While I was backuping data, I found documents that I written between after my college graduation and before I continued study abroad. So I might as well post them and write an article about them. Basically, I was stressed because I was pushed without rest to find a job, then I had no choice but to take a stressing job, and finally resigned because I got accepted in studying abroad.
Insanely Applied to Valve
I was a gamer back then especially when my friends were also gamers. The games that we played back then are mostly from Steam. On their website, the job menu was always there and back then was emphasized. Their book about their job was also open electronically. The most interesting thing that I remembered that their company's structure was dynamic. Everyone can come up with a project and the structure will be made after the approval of the project and once the project finishes, the structure changes based on the next project. As I was desperate back then, I did not think twice to apply, and what is the disadvantage of just applying. Here is my cover letter when I was applying:
I would like to apply for the position in network/system engineer. In the past I have dealt with simple local area network until complex network in certain agencies. I started when I was an undergraduate student in a computer lab learning ip address confguration, twisted pair cables and simple switches. Then I got to be part of a project in installing fiber optic cable for whole central government regency of Badung. I was a staff supervisor under CV Bali Info data which my job description was reporting every detail of the project's development to the heads of the project. With three of my friends we witness the whole work from June to August 2012 everyday, starting from planting the cable underground, splicing, to network configuration. My friends wrote an analysis about the cabling, such as the splicing and the OTDR test result, while I took interest and specialize in network configuration. I wrote a report and made a simulation of how the networks were configured. The simulation I made in Cisco Packet Tracer because all the network equipments are Cisco Devices. I didn't take part in the network configuration because I was a staff supervisor, not the engineer. But I examined thouroughly how the network engineer back then configured the network and afterwards I decided to learn networking on my own. A year after the project was finished a new project came up that was to install wireless access point throughout the regency. I was very lucky that they chose me to configure the network which was to synchronize the wireless access point to the current network. I was given full access and ultimately I master all the network configuration back then. Around that year I was constantly called whenever there was trouble in the network. It's thanks to this experience I can start my career as a network engineer.
After that I got interested in Linux and Open Source software. At first I was interested in penetration testing (pentest) using Backtrack and Kali Linux, but since I was quite busy with my final project on my last semester I have to stop in intensive in pentest. Back then most of my time was spent on C programming and Linux Embedded on Imote2 wireless sensor network for my final project. So up till now I'm interested in using Linux as primary operating system, as you now in Indonesia most people rely on cracked softwares. I used to be one them until I learned of open source software, so I tried to removed my reliance to cracked software. In the process I also stumbled on servers using Linux. Right after I finished my final project one of my friends asked for my help in his final project about dynamic adaptive streaming over http (DASH). I was asked to install a web server using Ubuntu, convert mp4 video to mpd file format, and prepare the live dash client on the web server to play the mpd file online. Today I voluntarily help the IT staff at Udayana University to configure a Mikrotik device to function as a bandwidth manager and firewall for the network while waiting to further my career.
I see Valve Corporation as a potential place where I could further my career. To be honest I knew Valve because I was a gamer, I played counter strike in the past and today I enjoyed playing DOTA 2 with my friends. The truth is as a network engineer I could always apply in other IT corporations or providers but since I have a background as a gamer I would like to know and experience working in a game corporation such as Valve, also as a way I would like to support gaming industry. I have a deep interest in the corporation. Here I apply as a network engineer where I could do best in but also I was hoping to get the chance to witness and be involve in making games. I was hoping I could work as a network engineer while learning how games were produced. In conclusion other than I think I'm suited for this position, I have high motivation to be working with Valve Corporation.
Ofcourse I was mad to even apply. Who would want a fresh graduate residing in another country who does not have any special talent? The expenses would far outnumbered the benefit of them hiring me. Yes, without any details, they just rejected me. At the same time I applied to Blizzard as well and the same result. In this period, I also applied to Smartfren Telecommunication Service Provider because there were news about its open recruitment in the newspaper but also does not sit well for me since they were looking for experts in telecommunication network while I only have experience in computer networks.
Well Known Scholarships Back Then
I enjoyed my college studies and felt more fun doing learning and researching and therefore even before I graduate, I already planned to continue to graduate school and get the highest degree while enjoying studying. My other agenda is to travel abroad and be in an international environment. If you read my post about deals going to school, you have probably read of how much I despise student loans because unless you are able steer the wheels, you will probably end up a slave struggling to repay your debts. On that post I also wrote that the best way to continue studying is to get a scholarship. In this period, I was applying to many scholarships and the globally popular ones back then are:
- Fullbright (United States)
- Chevening (United Kingdoms)
- Erasmus Mundus (Europe)
- Australian Awards formerly AUSAID (Australia)
- Monbukagakusho (Japan)
Yes there are more scholarships but back then they are not generally know, at least in my ears. You can searching for scholarships in each country for example try the search terms "scholarship in China", "scholarship in Russia", "scholarship in Germany", "scholarship in Netherland", etc. Generally, the requirements are:
- Identity, degree, transcript, and other essential documents.
- English certificates such as TOEFL and IELTS.
- Letter of recommendation.
- Curiculum Vitae (CV) and other certificates.
- Research Proposal.
For graduate school in my experience is that other requirments are enough with just the bare minimum. What is most important is the research proposal because in reflects out plan for the whole study, what will we do there, and what will we contribute for them. Graduate school is different from the spoon feeding of primary and high school, it is different from college where we are to observe and learn where those who did well in exams are prefered as these people can be taught much more easily. In graduate school, they are not interested in teaching us but they look forward to our contribution to their research and if possible for us to lead.
The following cover letter is the one that I submitted to Erasmus Mundus:
I have just graduated from Undergraduate School of Electrical Engineering Udayana University and I plan to continue my study for master dagree overseas. There are few reasons why I would like to study abroad, the main reason is because I wanted to see more parts of the world, another reason is I missed the days when I was in elementary school in Australia where there was a large diversity of people. In other words the school consists of people from different parts of the world. Back then I found it fun and interesting in getting to know different kinds of people. Therefore I decided that I would like to experience the sensation again after I obtain my Bachelor dagree. When I heard of ERASMUS MUNDUS Pervasive Computing and Communications for Sustainable Development (PERCCOM) I didn’t need to think twice to apply for it. Not only it fits my background, the program itself I find it very interersting, especially the part where we get to study in different parts of Europe which are University of Lorraine (France), Lappeenranta University of Technology (Finland), Lulea University of Technology (Sweden), St Petersburg University of Mechanics and Optics (Russia), maybe there are other places as well (from the information I read from PERCCOM website). If I were to join this program I could get to know variety of cultures and people, and most importantly I will have the opportunity to befriend with people from all over the world.
Eventhough my background is in electrical, I concentrated in the field of telecommunication, and also I’m very familiar with networking and programming because they were one of my hobbies. I was taught the basics of electrical and telecommunication but I ran deep into networking and programming, in the end my final project relied heavily on programming with a bit electrical and communication analysis thus it can be catagorized to energy efficiency in ICT. For two and a half year as I spent as a lab assistant in both Computer Lab and Communication System Lab, I was entrusted as the network engineer of those two labs. So I thought I could continue my study from my undergraduate studies in green ICT through this program. I read from many articles and papers that most of the worlds energy resources are being consumed by ICT. By continuing studying in ICT I may be able to take part in solving this problem. In the future not only I want to improve the capabilities of ICT but also I would like to make it cleaner, green, and more efficient.
I was rejected for Erasmus Mundus scholarship. With my experience now, looking back at the cover letter that I wrote it contained my motivation to study and my agenda of being in an international environment. You don't study information communication technology (ICT) in graduate school. You study that in undergraduate school or anyone else can study by themselves. While recruiting students from abroad does fulfill the purpose of making a more international environment but is never the primary purpose. The primary purpose of graduate school is to find students who can contribute where in this case I lack proposal in my cover letter.
The following I submitted to Fullbright and Australian Awards:
I have graduated and received my bachelor in electrical engineering concentrated in telecommunication just a few months ago. I'm interested in research related to information communication technology (ICT) especially in green energy, networking, online system, programming, and security. I've grown interested in networking since 2012 where on that period and onward I was given a chance to directly manage networking devices such as switches, routers, and servers whether they are Allied Telesis, Cisco, Mikrotik, or other devices. At the same time I was looking for an operating system (OS) suited for networking, most people here said Linux had an upper edge. I started with Ubuntu to get familiar then a senior also a friend of mine introduced me to Backtrack 5, now I'm using its latest Kali Linux. There I also learned the word pentest which is an abbreviation to penetration testing and learn of so called open source software. Around the end of my undergraduate studies I was found that I was using Linux, and thankfully given a chance to work on a research of Linux embbeded system on wireless sensor network (WSN). There I went deep into the Linux itself and C programming which I must write a code to transmit images between Imote2 Linux WSN and apply image compression for efficiency.
I made that research as my bachelor thesis and graduated and now I would like to continue my study to master degree around the related field. I would like to apply to Graduate School ... on the program ... which I aim to further researching. I would like to continue studying related to ICT. I wanted know the latest online system, for example where we can follow a distant course through e-learning, not to exclude the large scale network involved. Other than that I would like to enhance my knowledge in hacking which both network security and web security are fundamental. Also I would like to learn of free opensource software in which I believe will be leading and auxilary in the future since for everyone is free to use and develop.
A slight improvement adding my experiences and more details about my abilities which is one of the information that we must show when applying for a job. However again, there was no proposal here of what I could contribute to and just showing what I could do. Then, I got rejected by Australian Awards and did not pass the interview for Fullbright. My time was running out and my surroundings are impatiend of my unemployed status, thus I was forced take a job no matter what it is.
My First Stressing Employment
Why do I dare to write "stressing" in the heading? Because the higher ups said so that stress and overtime is the norm there and employees running away breaching the contract are many and if I want to escape as well go ahead. They pride themselves in a metaphore of school that if we last until the end of the contract, we will be proud graduates no matter how bad we performed. After that, employees move on or rare cases of continue working there.
This period was the first time in my life where I hated Sunday night very much and liked Friday noon very much. Why? because the haunting that Sunday night will last and have to wake up at 5 tomorrow to prepare going to work and the best days of back then was Friday night where I kept myself sane with movie cinema entertainment plus tasty foods and tasty drinks where usually day and night I eat at the cafeteria and the thought that I can sleep as much as I want and no need to worry about tomorrow Saturday where I do not have to worry about work. While it is true that I did not like Mondays and liked Saturdays in my primary and high school times but not as far as hating them like in these working days.
Wearing uniforms and working days from 08:00 - 20:30 is still something bearable as I was used to work hard volunteerily. However, those things became a great nightmare when my job is something not only I had zero experienced in but also zero knowledge in. In the interview, I explained clearly that I was a computer and network engineer but do you know what they put me into? Manufacture Engineer. It had been since high school that I was humiliated as someone stupid. It never happened in my college life because I pride myself as a strategist, planner, and often daydreamed of grand schemes so I am good a calculating my abilities. I was great, not because I was really great but I only took jobs that could do and I could even forsee how long I would take. When someone asked me fpr a complicated job for example, I would say that I needed 2 to 3 weeks for example, and if they do not want take the risk, I even dared to say that it is better to ask someone else. In this employment case was because I forced to since I was doubting the future result of my scholarship applications and was unclear with my plans. Thus, pushed me to this employment in an unfamiliar area where it should not even be like this that my original intention was only an intership where I would even pay so they would have understand my intention was only to study and gain experience and not have a high expectation. However, why an intership, just get employed with contract directly they said. They do not understand that an employment meant that I have to do well in the job and contribute much to the company where in my case would potentially lead to a disappointment. Wait, couldn't I just explained my background whenever I cannot do something? Would you care if you see a stupid employee? I may care but most people would not care and just scorn that employee for being stupid. Even if I initiatively explained my background, people probably are too lazy to listen. The reply most of the time, "if you know that, why did you even accept this job?". That's right, why did even accept that job? Because I was wavering, full of doubts, and unclear about my plans where that employment was my escape from the humiliation of unemployment. Ironically, it was an escape from one prison to another prison.
Despite my complains from the public perspective, I was blessed. Other than the rich knowledge and experience, I was given high salary compared to other fresh graduates, group housing provided with all the bills paid, transportation to my work place, free lunch, and free dinner if I stayed over time. Plus, my salary can be doubled if I worked overtime everyday where overtime was the norm so my salary was doubled in default. The everyday scolding and yelling are for the lazy and the fearful. Hard work are appreciated. Employees called it a hell hole because they fear their bosses. I don't, I have no hesitation when facing them, I tell whatever the situation truthfully, and if they don't like it, I don't care, and if they push the button, I'm not afraid to bite back, but what can I do in a work I have no knowledge in except for just listening to their anger? On the other hand if you are competent or good at what you do, you will dominate and lead instead. I saw the bosses relying on peers who have background, who were very good at manufacture engineering, and had passion in them. Me? I was an easy target for the first three months, and after that I knew at least the basic stuffs which is enough to not let them push me around as I covered my lack of brilliance with hard work. My seniors often afraid confronting my bosses, I did not understand the meaning of fear which is enough for to dominate after the 3 months.
Compared to my collegues on the same year as me, they are still under mentorship of their seniors while my mentor on taught me for about 2 weeks and released me to wild by myself since he was to busy to teach me. That suits me well, I went here and there, met people here and there, asked the appropriate people for the appropriate problems, and I volunteered to take the general manager's extra lessons and projects during every overtime after 17:00 - 20:30 if I did not have any main jobs at the time. Still, I did not want to stay there long as back then was not inline with my study which was computer network, server, and security at the time. In my workplace from 07:30 - 20:30 and 30 minutes each on the road, I only had 21:00 - 22:00 and Saturdays and Sundays for my own agenda. I was richer than most fresh graduates in my country, but what is the use of money if I do not spend them and there was no way I had time to start learning business and investing.
Light at The End of The Tunnel
After three months I already accept my fate that I had to endure for 2 years, however a surprising news arrived at the fifth month. I read again and again, and read again and again that I could not believe I was accepted for MEXT scholarship in Japan! This was the month I worked the hardest because I was to happy that the light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Other than the previous cover letters, the followings are addition that added when I submitted to MEXT scholarship:
If I may propose a research I would like to propose about how much important security in e-learning system. I've learned of e-learning in my undergraduate studies, used it to follow some courses, and tried it myself in giving a course through e-learning. What I haven't heard about is its security, news if it had ever been hacked and how its impact to e-learning. So there's a question whether security is highly important to e-learning or not. I find this topic quite urgent since the development of opensource software, which unlike before there are lots of free pentest tools available. Since it's opensource the development is quite rapid because many people are involved, there's even OS specifically for pentest. Even if it's called pentest it's still a powerful hacking tools. More shocking fact is that these tools' simplicity are incredible, which means everyone can use with just a few studying.
I believe technology as one of the main aspect for a civilization to be advance, for a country to develop and that's why I pursue my career in technology. In the future I would like to be professional in technology, specialist in ICT. By continuing my study, I can contribute in the development of technology, and finally I want to participate in the world's summit.
Unlike before, I wrote what I planned to do and additionally I boasted big that I want to be on the world's summit one day. While I did wrote some sort of plan but the me now evaluated the writing was due to some sort of luck. The proposal lacks details like what kind of securities, why securities are important where I should have wrote a background story and if there was none, I should have wrote a future possibility or potential problem, and lastly the methods I are missing in my proposal. If not a method, at least an idea that can somewhat complete the story of my proposal. Maybe I am right that what I written above was not enough but there was an email interview and here is an important part that I wrote:
As of my career plans ofcourse I would like to be a professional in technology. If I could would like to continue for PhD/Dr degree which is still far since I'm still trying for Master degree.
What I wanted to do is to continuously participate in international events, specifically to contribute to the world in the development of technology, whether it be participating in international conference, collaborate research, or dive into society to help for the better.
In the future I would like to make one of my dreams come true, which is a unified world. Those are fantastic words but what I'm aiming for is to make each parts of the world seems closer where we could travel or adventure here and there, and easily get to know each part of the world. For example the distance between here Indonesia and Japan is 4,819 km physically far away, what I wanted is to make these two places seems likes it's just next door.
Physically transportation plays the most part, but what I could do is to make it seems close. With the existence of The Internet we can interact between countries as if we're neighbors. There's conventional email, today there are forums, social media, distant learning, even online games. I'll await in the future for virtual reality. So in my field of ICT I can make those physically far away seems close that could interact with each other as if face to face.
When I said even before I graduated I wanted to continue to graduated, I already wanted as far as to do PhD and I mentioned that in my written interview. While at that time it was just a mention and a desire, when I made to Japan, that mention was actually one of the determining factors as I reached the lab that I was already given more research to do because they knew that I wanted to continue to PhD they said while other Master's student are having it more leisure. I also mentioned that after I finish everything that I wanted to participate more in international events. I felt bad that my priorities changed today but it is still excuseable since we are still in COVID-19 Pandemic. At that time, I already gave up and leave everything to fate, so I might as well go with a bang in my final letter. I wrote in the future that I wanted to unify the world where we can go anywhere at anytime. The idea is actually a courtesy from a cinematic video game developed by Kojima Production Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of The Patriot led by Hideo Kojima. The original story is that a man almost succesfully unified the world from the shadows where there are no longer any borders where we are just creatures walking on this world with no races and no nationality, we are a singularity but also a society as a whole. Now that I think about, maybe that statement was also a determining factor.
Anyway, as I was accepted, I worked the best that I could before I resigned. Though I hated the working system, I was grateful to the friends I made. Like in many places, they are pleasant people who helped me and took me out to have fun. I made to Japan and continue study in graduate school. I find it funny for some peers of mine are stressed from the study. For me, this is heaven compared to the 08:00 - 20:30 in uniforms and I forgot to mention that employees below managers are not allowed to bring their own computer devices and also not allowed to use the Internet. Even further, we cannot plugged our USB to transfer data, I even have to hack the Trend USB software. Well, I heard that some of my peers here are used to leisure work like playing games and watching Korean Drama movie many times because there are less work and most of them missed their family. While for me, I enjoyed the class, I enjoyed the research, I enjoyed the free electricity and very fast Internet connection, especially very thankful for the scholarship, and finally the first time in my life, I lived freely and independent. Aside from the classes and every monday to present my progress report, I was free to wake and sleep whenever I wanted, to go weherever I wanted, to eat whatever I wanted, and to meet whomever I wanted. Basically, I was free to make my own schedule where at the point when I did not have any classes anymore, I research and got indulged in entertainment depending on my mood until 5 in the morning, and then sleep until 2 in the afternoon and my schedule was constantly changing however I wanted and they did not complain because I deliver my progress report on time and frequently exceeded their expectation. Other than that, I have money to invest! Those were the start of my happiest time in my lifetime.