All i’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks is talk to you, wait for you to talk to me, talk about you, think about you, and think about you thinking of me. I hate it. This dependency, this irrational handicap that can never fully be put into effect, this obscure serendipitous coincidence is simply that and it can never be anything more and I hate myself for it. What makes it worse is that I know all of this and despite it all, here I am.
Over winter break Allison and I made our own sushi for the first time!! :) It turned out great! Definitely need some practice though…
It’s hard to believe everything is happening so quickly. Just last week I was worrying about whether or not I will have plans this summer, whether or not I will ever hear back from the 15+ places I applied to, and whether or not I would ever get hired. But let me tell you exactly how this happened..
Wednesday February 27th: I heard about the spring career fair that was happening on this Tuesday-Thursday from the resume critique session that Jessica had informed me of the week before where you get your resume critiqued by professionals in the field. Desperately applying to every job the crossed my path, I figured I should probably pay a visit to the career fair. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, I waited in line to check in my bag and get a name tag. It was my first ever career fair, and I was so overwhelmed. The amount of people there was ridiculous, and everybody was competing with everybody else for these exact same jobs. Attempting to get the feel of the career fair, I walked around the Colony Ballroom in Stamp a few times, scoping out the potential bioengineering recruiters. And if you were wondering, there were none. Devastated but hopeful, I talked to a few recruiters to warm up, and then decided to talk to the few semi-relevant companies there: Unilever, Johnson and Johnson, and Cannon Life Sciences (yes, in that order). Initially I passed by Johnson and Johnson, but all four or five recruiters were occupied, plus there was a huge line already in formation, so I decided to pass. I talked to Unilever, who was looking for supply chain management majors. It was the first time I had ever heard of such a job, and I was a bit disappointed to hear not even they were looking for bioengineers. I ran into Luke Robertson (?) at this table, and I was sure in for a treat. He is one of those nice, helpful, go-getter types of people. He was giving me some tips and told me that the only place really hiring bioengineers was Cannon because even J&J was hiring for supply chain management. After parting our separate ways, I talked to Unilever, which did not go very well. A little discouraged, on my way to Cannon I saw that there was no line at Johnson and Johnson, and that there was actually one recruiter available. After introducing myself, we talked for quite a while, about 10 minutes or so, before another line started to form. She seemed to really have taken a liking to me: she told me about the supply chain management field, the different categories, how they were not just looking for business majors, and even that she lived in Franklin Park, NJ! As we wrapped up because she had to start talking to some more people, she told me that if I was still interested that she would email me that night sending me the link to the online application that I had to apply to, to be considered. She encouraged me to interview with them as I departed from the table and made my way over to Cannon. Initially my meeting with one of the recruiters went fairly smoothly, but then he began to ask me some specific technical questions, and that’s where it went wrong. We parted and with a bit of relief and slight disappointment, I walked out of the career fair. On my way to obtain my items, I ran into Luke again. He told me that he actually received a job offer from Cannon on the spot. Even more discouraged and disappointed in myself, Luke began to give me some tips about the bioe department. As we said goodbye for the last time,
Thursday, February 28th I received a call from an unknown number around 11:20 during my physics lab. Unable to answer, I ignored the call and decided to call the number back after class. It turned out that Emily, the recruiter I spoke to the day before, wanted to schedule an interview. Excited and a bit surprised, I called her back. We ended up being unable to reach each other until around 5:40 that day, during my Gems 102 class where different projects were talking about their proposed ideas. I left during the class to answer the phone, and scheduled an interview for the next day, Friday at 4:30. She told me the only other available slot was around 2, and that they would make an exception and be able to stay little later for me if necessary, which they did.
Friday February 29th. After researching the company a bit and asking my parents for tips about interviewing and etc. I went to my classes and then eventually went to the interview. When I arrived there I was a bit early, and extremely nervous. There was one other person waiting in the lobby so I decided to sit next to him and talk to him to calm my nerves. His name was David Lee and he is a supply chain management and biology major. It turns out that he had just finished interviewing with J&J and he thought that he went pretty well. After he left, the recruiter Emily came over and talked to me a bit before my interview. She told me that I would be interviewing with two people, Mike and Jess, and that I should just do my best. During the interview they asked some standard questions like who inspires me, if I had any experience with excel, why I chose Maryland, why J&J, etc. After that came the “S.T.A.R.” questions where I had to describe a situation, say my thought process, my actions to it and the result. The questions were pretty much along the lines of “describe a time when you volunteered to do a daunting task” or “describe a time when you demonstrated leadership abilities and how” or “describe a time when you had a lot of work to do and how you managed your time”. My hour was a little short of an hour long, and afterwards I filled out the questionnaire asking about location preferences and such. I walked out feeling pretty good. A little nervous, and of course I could have behaved a little better (playing with my hairband, nervous sounding), or just answered the questions a little better, but overall I felt pretty confident since it was my first interview.
Now let’s fast-forward to last Wednesday the 6th. We were forecasted to have 5-10 inches of snow, so we got the day off of school..of course on my lightest day. For the past week I had been anxiously checking my email every five minutes, but this day I was fairly unproductive because I was tired and just wanted to sit around and do nothing; it was one of those kinds of days. Then, I received an email from Johnson and Johnson. It said “congratulations on your offer!” and I was so excited. At the time I was sitting on my bed but I ran down and read the letter with Rachel. I freaked out a little because at that point I had no idea what to do. Supply Chain Management was not what I had expressed interest in: it wasn’t my major, and it surely was surely unlike anything I had ever had experience in before. It meant that I would have to take the fall semester off and stay in NJ, plus it also meant that I would have to drop Gemstone (Honors Program). After contemplating this for a few days, and driving me and everyone around me a little crazy, I finally began talking to some people about it. On thursday I discussed it with my advisor (the first time I talked to him ever), and he wasn’t very helpful but he told me that he would do it and on friday I visited resident life and talked to them about the housing situation. All this talk about the future and big decisions started to get to me. I was anxious, confused, and at the point probably a little bit crazy. I walked to bubble tea right after talking to reslife because I thought it would calm my nerves, but I didn’t. It made me sugar high. So I texted Scott, wanting to discuss it with him, and I ended up running to him, Charlie, Rachel, and Geena in the diner when I had planned to eat with just Geena and Rachel. I was freaking out a little bit but I told Charlie and Scott about it and they were both suggesting that it was worth dropping Gemstone and they don’t really see why I wouldn’t take it because it is such a great opportunity, even if it isn’t in my major. Later that night Scott helped me work out a 4 year plan to verify that I would be able to get my honors citation and major done in a reasonable time, and it worked it perfectly. So it was then that I decided that I should do it. It’s a great experience and something that I would definitely not be able to get anywhere else. It gives me a different perspective of the bioengineering industry: the business aspect. A very vital part of it that not many engineers would probably get to experience. Plus, I’ve always been a little interested in business so now would be a good time to test it out, even if it is for 6 months. The only problem was, it seemed as if I was unable to find the appropriate documents that I was supposed to sign in order to accept the offer.
Saturday night I met up with David, his (ex?) girlfriend was persistant in adding me on fb and trying to talk to me seeing as how she got the ico-op as well. We talked over some snack because we both weren’t too hungry for dinner, and he was the one who informed me about how to access the forms..it turns out that you were supposed to download it and they forms were formatted as little application files on the word document. Under the impression that we would only be getting paid $4000, and that we would all be living there, it was both extremely exciting yet disappointing at the same time when I found out I would be getting paid $20 an hour, but I would also have to live at home. At that point all of this information was just reaffirming my decision to pursue it, so I began filling out the necessary paperwork with my parents over Skype.
Today, Monday March 11th, I decided I was going to fax over the necessary materials seeing as how they are due tomorrow. My first class of the day was 9 a.m. ENES102, mechanics and statics. I arrived to class a couple of minutes late, but I was so exhausted from going to sleep at 2 this morning (since I was talking to mostly Charlie and a bit with Nathaniel) that I ended up dozing off in class..head on table and everything. My professor called me out on it: he was like “Well I see some of you are falling asleep but you should probably listen to this part because it is important”. Awkward. So after class ended I went to the bathroom to blow my nose (allergies), but as I was walking out of the building, I saw someone I knew walk out with graded papers, so I asked her if they were handing back papers and she confirmed it. I had nothing too important to do at the moment, so I walked back into the classroom to pick up my paperwork and after shuffling through some papers, finding mine, and then asking about my grade to the TA, I began to leave. I was turning back around before I reached the door to put my paper in my backpack when my TA comes quickly walking out of the classroom, looking for me. He asked if I had any plans for the summer and if I would be interested in doing a paid internship in his lab under Johnson for the bioe department. Of course, this would happen the day I would have to make a decision. I told him that I was interested in it but I already had plans, and I’d be interested in maybe doing it in the spring of 2014. After walking to stamp, I talked to my dad about it. I then spoke to Emily about housing, my vacation plans that it seems I am going to miss out on, and etc. because my actual recruiter could not return my phone calls. She suggested that I visit the engineering career center to fax my papers, which was a great idea. They faxed all of my papers for me and even told me about the co-op program that they have. I met with Veronica, she told me briefly about what I would have to do and I signed off on some paperwork and it was done.
So I am officially set for this spring and fall. I still have to contact some people on campus to ensure that everything is set for the next spring, but this is so crazy. A year ago, or even a week ago, I never could have imagined all of this happening. It all came so quickly. It’s a great opportunity, but it’s going to be so weird. Just a year ago around this time I was making the big decision of which college to go to, and I thought that would be one of my last big decisions for a while. After spending a year in Maryland, it’s funny to be going back up to NJ again and spending a long period of time there after getting adjusted to friends and college life. This is actually going to be like a real job; 40 hour work weeks, commuting from home. I cannot believe all of this is happening so quickly. I feel like I’m being thrusted into the real world and the work force; having my summer and winter vacations evoked, without any idea of how to do anything. I’ve been waiting for this for so long. An opportunity. Good luck. Actually being part of a real-world experience. But now that it’s here, I’m nervous. I’m excited because this is what I’ve been preparing for my whole life, but am I actually prepared? Maybe I’m not ready to grow up yet, maybe I am not ready for all of this to happen…Life is just full of surprises.
2012 was so good to me!
As yet another year comes to a close, it forces the lot of us to reflect on past year. For me, 2012 was full of milestones, and great memories. Earlier this year I was a high schooler who had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I was a bit lost; the last year or two of my high school career I lost a conscious sense of who I was. I never questioned my morals or beliefs, but I was definitely struggling for a definitive sense of who exactly Erica Choi was. And let me just note that college applications definitely did not help with that—it actually threw me more off track for quite some time after that. However, after struggling with physics, but mainly myself, I finally decided on a college (the day of the decision…May 1st). My dream school out of my choices was by far UCSD, without a question. Of course, with no scholarship and it being quite a trip, it was out of the question. Waitlisted at johns hopkins and accepted into rutgers pharmacy, my mom was quite excited. But what it really boiled down to was RPI, with a large scholarship and a bill that matched UMD with a small scholarship, and Rutgers Pharm, prestigious and affordable. I made up my mind that if I were to go into engineering it would not be at rutgers; I wasn’t in the honors college and there were much more prestigious engineering colleges like RPI and UMD. Of course, come may 1st we all know my decision. What made me make it? I can’t really say. I loved both colleges. The diversity of majors and of people in a great atmosphere is really what lured me to UMD, and I can now say I am glad that it did. More milestones are as follows: I got my first job late april working at hollister; it was awful pay and awful work but there was just something about it that appealed to me-probably that it was my first job. I went to prom; FHS prom with justice as my date. It was not exactly fun per say, but it was definitely an experience. I had numerous sleepovers, which was a first in a while other than Chrissy’s house. I had fun with the girls; pool parties, hangouts, talking about everything and nothing, sharing a love for one direction, going to NYC to see them, countless diners and lunches, and so much more; it was the first time I had a group of girls as friends. I graduated from RVCC on may 19th, the day after prom. I went to my first real concert; one direction (may 26th or something of the sort)!! The concert exceeded my expectations; it was so much fun and I am so glad I went with Kim H, her sister, and Garielle. It was a great adventure for sure. I went on my first cruise with my senior class! It was great. We went on the Norwegian Cruise Line, Star, to Bermuda..it was also my first time going to Bermuda and going on a trip without my parents! I also graduated from my high school: The Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. It was a moment I had been waiting for since I started high school; being tortured at that high school really did teach me quite a few lessons though, and I think that I am finally settling on the thought that going there was the right choice after all. Aarti and I made a yearbook, by ourselves. It was the first time that I had ever done a big project like that with someone else, and it really brought me and Aarti a lot closer. I had another person I could trust and relate to, I had another person who would and could work as hard as I would and could, it was great. I graduated on June 14th I believe? I will have to double check that. Anyways, I worked through the summer and hung out with friends quite a bit. It was also the first summer that we didn’t go on a family vacation. However, it was the first time that a couple of my friends (Suma, Garielle, Aarti, Kim H) came over and we cooked dinner together at my house! Avocado Mac and Cheese, Indo-Chinese Paneer, pesto and goatcheese palmiers, vegan homemade mango icecream in chocolate cups, fresh mixed salad, and much more; it was quite a success. And of course, one of the biggest milestones, I started college. I went to gems camp first for my honors college, gemstone, so I was able to move in a few days earlier than everyone else. Gems Camp was not exactly fun, but it was definitely an experience: Millions of awkward-touching icebreakers, disgusting cabins with even worse bathrooms and odd smelling water, almost too-hot-to-sit-near bonfires with new friends who would later become more than just acquaintances, and no air conditioning. I am definitely glad that I went. Although me and Rachel didn’t quite hit it off from the start, we soon became good friends. After classes started I still didn’t really know where anything was, but I learned quickly. Even after the first few weeks, I still was not quite feeling the actual stress of classes just yet, but that quickly faded. After the first round of exams, everything just went downhill from there. I was so consumed by the workload that I was literally studying or doing homework every day at least till, or mostly past, midnight. I squeezed in time for my friends, and on the few days I was free we would try and make a trip to DC. It was such a great experience. For the first time this year, I lived on my own, I was dropped into a pool of people of which I knew none of them, I improved my communication skills, I built a working hovercraft and worked on a team of 9 other members..all of which were guys, I did my own laundry..REGULARLY!, I was able to keep in contact with my friends and family fairly successfully, and for the first time in my life I have finally seen things a bit more clearly, and because of it, I have become closer to my family. I talk to my parents more and they know more about my life. I actually let them in on my academic experiences (how classes are, my professors, and how I’m doing in the class). For the first time, I did not have the subconscious comforting feeling that I would be able to pull off the grades with no big deal..even though somehow, I was able to (I made the dean’s list-3.66-and survived my first semester! that’s what counts :) ). Although I tried my best to keep that mindset, it was a bit difficult for me to adjust to the facts that were laying in front of me. For the first time, I was not secure of my intellect. The people around me challenge me and I am both thankful and regretful of that fact. For the first time I talked to my professors and my TA’s and really attempted to form a relationship with them and better my understanding by asking them; asking questions did not mean that I was not smart, it helped make me smarter. For the first time I broke into places, I wandered around in the middle of the night, go to a frat party and try some alcohol, and I was able to let loose some more and have fun. I walked more than 1000 miles (maybe…no one can be sure :P), I walked every where and no where, I went to midnight runs to the convenience store, I walked to Rita’s with people I’ve never met before, I swam in the fountain, I went to the gym…twice…, I swam for the first time in forever, I became a troll, I had more ice cream scoops than I could ever imagine, I made friends. So many people walked in and out of my life already, even within the first semester. Geena, Rachel, Jessica, Tim, his friends, Ramkesh, Frank, Nathaniel, Charlie, Bohr…and so many more people that I have simply met in passing or at an event, but I am glad that I met them. Even those who I no longer talk to. They helped make my semester, although it did not meet my ideal, great. 2012 definitely did not disappoint. :)
Went to dc last weekend and discovered a hole-in-the wall Korean place that is so amazingg! I love discovering great restaurants. This one is called adam’s express and it’s run by an adorable elderly couple that really make the place perfect. Their reviews and just being there with them was so heartwarming..and their food was even better!