The newest Fairey in town

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It’s been a long time coming…

They announced the acquisition of my employer back in April. This created a fair bit of uncertainty and tension at work. I wasn’t worried because good paraplanners are in great demand in London. However, just in case, I started to browse job ads – you know… I gotta take care of myself.

I was really looking for an improvement to my current situation (more money and career progression) and didn’t want to simply change employers whilst staying in the exact same line of work. Recruiters really struggled with this concept as they kept pestering me with paraplanner opportunities.

I had an interview at an accounting firm, which had a financial planning arm. They needed an all-things-financial specialist. The interview went really well. At least, so I thought. They promised to get back to me within a week’s time. However, not a single peep. After three weeks, I sent an email to the recruiter who I was in touch with and said that I do not want anything to do with him or that accounting business and explained how disappointing their communication was. It’s a very poor sign if your employer starts breaking promises from the very beginning.

After that email, they immediately got back to me to get me into another meeting to chat with the wider team and managers etc. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t desperate… and that put me into a much better bargaining position. Maybe I’m an idealist but I would like to work for a company which treats its employees well. My “no” decision was not up for debate.

Moving on, somehow my old boss found out I was looking for jobs. He later told me that one of the guys from a recruitment agency told him he had received my resume. So much for confidentiality… I will never trust recruiters again. It’s sad that such immoral people exist. However, that’s the world we live in. Welcome to London!

My old boss (from the company in Chelmsford) called me and said in his cheeky cheerful voice something along the lines of “a little bird told me you’re on the market again”. This was followed by a big hearty explosion of laughter. I agreed to meet up at his newly opened London office. We had a catch up and he made me an offer to join the dark side.

experiment-quote

I did a bit of soul searching in Spain (zouk festival near Barcelona) and on my return I decided that I’ll jump ship. So I handed in my notice and my three month clock started.

It’s quite a long time to wait three months to start a new venture. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass passed and now I’m the newest Fairey in town. This new chapter is called IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), which is exactly what I set out to do since my first job interview at this very company about 2.5 years ago.

I’ve been wearing my new adviser hat for a few weeks now and in all fairness I have a long way to go. However, I’m hugely optimistic. If Leo can get an Oscar, UK vote for Brexit, and Donald Trump can become president, I can surely become one of UKs top financial advisers.

Big boss man thinks that the best way for me to learn is to make me as uncomfortable as possible. At times, it’s certainly challenging, with a hint of occasional embarrassment and a dash of feelings of worthlessness. The deep end of the pool looked a lot scarier a few weeks ago. I’ve made some progress.

So.

If you guys need some financial advice, hit me up. I’m sure my financial planning magic will leave you in a state of eternal happiness, joy and serenity.

Oh and I don’t have to wear a tie at work. Life is good again!

Ivar

Fancy people

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It was a late Sunday evening about a month ago. I couldn’t sleep and out of boredom went on reed.co.uk to check out what else is there. I guess I was having a crappy day as well.
So I thought I send my resume off to 3 job ads. I quickly updated my resume with my qualifications and job info and a few minutes later it was done.
Somehow I fell asleep.
First thing in the morning I applied to another 4 jobs… mostly because the previous day I thought I wasn’t good enough but in the morning I was happy to apply. Or maybe it’s the case that the morning isn’t as wise as the evening. It’ll remain a mystery.
The first phone call from a recruiter happened at 7:50 AM. I had a quick chat with the guy and then started towards work. It was a 40-50 minute walk to work. During that stroll I received another 4 phone calls from recruiters. Once I got to work I had to put my phone on silent because I was being sneaky and didn’t tell anybody about my plans to jump ship.
Throughout that day I received another 20+ calls, a bunch of texts and emails from recruiters. It felt good to be in demand, very good.
The ones I called back told me that their interest was high mostly because of my quick progression with industry exams. I was glad all that studying was starting to pay off.
My inbox was full of job opportunities. If I was interested I replied “interested”, otherwise “not interested”. Oneliners seemed like douchy replies but I had so many emails to go through.
I had three job interviews that week. I didn’t like the first one – the managing director pretty much insulted me right to my face. He said that I would never be able to advise British clients because I’m Estonian and therefore can only have Estonian clients and there’s not many of them around… I think he didn’t realize what he did so he just continued talking. Anywho, I wasn’t interested in working for that asshole.
The second company seemed nice at first but as the interview progressed I gradually realized how dodgy of a firm they were. For example one of their advisers wasn’t even level 4 (the minimum requirement to legally give financial advice in the UK). Another thing: the list of responsibilities kept getting longer and longer as the interview progressed. Red flags everywhere. No deal.
The third company was a “good” firm. There are a couple of them in London. This Chartered Financial Advisor had a very good reputation in the industry. However, the interview was the shortest in my life. I shared my opinions on financial markets, cashflow forecasting etc and got into a bit of a debate with the director who interviewed me. And then he said “I’m going to stop the interview now.” He said that he doesn’t want people in his office thinking like me. That came as a surprise. A minute later I found myself on the other side of the building’s front door.
I had an exam on the following Monday. This was the R06 (Financial Planning Practice) exam which I failed back in January this year. I had my fourth job interview 2 hours after the exam.
fancy
Now this company was fancy as hell. The interview was on the top floor of the building with a fantastic view over London. Its location was nice and central. It was beautiful.
I had a one hour “structural” interview followed by a 50 question multiple-choice knowledge test. I didn’t even know they were going to test me, so I had no prior preparation. I knew my test wasn’t my best and felt a bit crappy about it when I handed it over. I thought, “oh well, I tried”.
After that interview I had a second interview at the dodgy company. Another guy from the firm wanted to have a chat and I was in the area, so I figured I might as well meet him. The red flags remained. I got a better understanding of how their team worked. It was a small company and I guess you need to cut a few corners when you’re small and growing. Otherwise the interview went really well.
Next day I went to work as usual. I had a crapload of work to do because things just pile up when you’re off work “studying for exams”. I ignored my phone and email throughout the day.
I had a few missed calls but didn’t call back because Tuesday was salsa and bachata day. I was too busy to care and needed a bit of time off from everything.
Wednesday was very similar to Tuesday at work. However on the train onroute to London (Wednesday is zouk day) I got a phone call from the recruiter who got me the interview at the fancy company with the nice view over London. He said that they were very pleased with me and that my test went very well. He wanted to let me know that the fancy people wanted to get me onboard. I accepted. The offer was too good to say no.
Now I’m one of the fancy people and just finished my first week there. I’m required to wear a suit and a tie. Except on Fridays. Fridays are barefoot Fridays 🙂
Here’s a pic of me just being nervous me on my first day (I didn’t know I needed a tie):
First day
My new manager told me that my test score was the highest she’s seen anyone get. Looks like I know a thing or two about financial planning.
Speaking of tests, I passed the R06 exam as well. Now I’m only one exam away from the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. However I won’t get the title “chartered” until I get 5 years of industry experience. I think it’s still worth getting the exams out of the way.

Now I’m living and working in London. The first week’s been very busy but good. I’m enjoying it.

The Miracle of Life

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Isn’t it amazing how a new life is created from a single egg and sperm? Once the egg is fertilized all kinds of magical stuff starts happening. We’ve all been there – every single one of us. And now we’re all collections of billions of cells and large organs and limbs etc. The coolest stuff happens when we’re still in the womb, after birth the magic fades. We grow up, go to school, work, retire and die.

Miracle of Life

The miracle of life is amazing in its own right but there’s more to it. You see, I’ve been looking for work for about a month. In my previous post I mentioned two job interviews which I had a good feeling about. The first one was at a supermarket chain for a temporary IT support/analyst position for 2 months; the second one at a financial planning and advice company.

I applied for the IT support job via an employment agency. It seems like most advertised jobs in the UK are with employment agencies. I applied for ads for a while until I thought I needed to add another tool to my job-seeking arsenal. I wrote a cover letter and started forwarding it with my resume to companies directly.

I liked my second method more because it was a bit more proactive. I remembered reading that most jobs aren’t advertised anyway… so this was worth a shot. I did this for a week until I landed the interview at the financial planning place.

I’ve been interested in the financial world for ages and the owner said they’re happy to train me to become a financial adviser. Mentioning my naked skydive was a good idea – it got their attention.

It wasn’t much of an interview. The boss put a paper in front of me and outlined the process of becoming a financial adviser – a series of exams which I needed to pass. Since one of their administrators was going on maternity leave in a few months they decided to start me off as an administrator. As I pass my exams my job will gradually progress towards a paraplanner and then a financial adviser position. The miracle of life works its magic beyond the womb. 😀

happy flower

Man was I happy after the interview. I couldn’t wipe that smile off my face. Finally I got a break. My one- crappy-job-after-another curse has ended.

I had a second interview at the same company and later that day they made me a job offer which I accepted.

Two days later I was also offered the IT support job but I declined because I was already happily employed.

Next week I will move closer to work. Travelling 65 km one way is too much. It’s expensive and takes too much time. This week I woke up at 5:30AM and got back home around 8PM. It was exhausting – I can’t wait to move again.

I’m still trying to get my money back from Turkey. The guy keeps dodging my messages and doesn’t show any interest in paying me back. So, today I told him I’ll file a scam/fraud complaint on Monday. He promised some crap about paying on Thursday – at least it scared him to reply me. I also signed up his email for some gay porn newsletters. 😀 If he doesn’t pay on Thursday I’ll put his mobile number on Craigslist under the man-seeking-man section. While I’m at it I might as well sign his home address up for some magazines and advertising spam materials. That’ll teach him not to mess with me!

Ivar the Avenger

Hugs and kisses

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I’ve been in London since Feb 2nd – almost for a month. Most of my time I spent looking for a home and looking for work.

I got half of my money back from the shady Turk but to this day haven’t received the rest. The life lesson is simple: never trust Turks. You might say that I shouldn’t put them all into one pot, but I’m not that nice. The other lesson is that you shouldn’t pay for anything in advance when dealing with cash. Trust is a beautiful thing but it’s also very fragile.

On a happier note… I’ve found a new home. I’m being cheap and sharing a room with a Spanish man. I believe about 8 people live in the house but they all keep themselves to themselves. So I don’t see them that often. Pretty much everyone here is older than me – except one toddler, who’s probably 2 years old. Most of the people here are native Spanish speakers, there’s a woman from Greece and another one from Bulgaria.

My room is quite large, nice and clean. The place isn’t too far from the city center and it’s very close to supermarkets and the tube. I’m pretty happy with it at the moment.

Work. I’ve been actively looking for work and have had 4 interviews. I’ve got a good feeling I will land a job soon. My last 2 interviews went very well. Fingers crossed.

hugs_and_kisses

Today I met with Caroline – a friend from Australia. I was really looking forward to meeting her. So I took the tube to her place, she opened the door with her huge smile and went for a kiss on the cheek. I don’t do that so that didn’t happen… just a quick awkward hug.

She’s French and it’s how they greet. I’m Estonian and for us anything from a nod or handshake is too much. It’s too close and quite uncomfortable for me.

I took my shoes off and 3 holes in my socks greeted Caroline. Hello! Hi! Bonjour! 😀 If you’re reading this, please send me socks.

We discussed the weather to honor the British surroundings. We talked some more. One thing led to another and somehow we got back to the kiss on the cheek greeting and cultural differences. We’re such intellectuals!!!

From what I remember she said a hug is more intimate than a kiss on the cheek. I completely disagree. To me a hug is the world’s most innocent thing imaginable (next to a nod from a far far away distance of course).

I also blush. Sometimes I get all red and awkward… the worst thing is I have absolutely no control over it. And I did. Today. That’s probably the biggest reason why I’m not OK with the kiss on the cheek thing.

So, here’s the problem – France prefers kisses to hugs, Estonia prefers hugs to kisses. The result is awkwardness.

I take great pride in the fact that I have successfully created a pseudo issue, although it was good to see you Caroline.

XOXO

Ivar the Anthropologist

Pretty in Pink

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Flashing. I know it’s been almost two months since my last post. I didn’t write because quite frankly not much was happening in my life. I was unemployed for most of that time. Having no money closes many doors.

My financial situation didn’t allow me to continue taking Latin dancing lessons. So I took a break until a friend of mine mentioned a really cool thing to me. H said there was going to be a flash mob in Brisbane and it’s only $40 to participate. I signed up immediately – I’ve been wanting to do a flash mob for a long time.

We practiced our choreography at least once a week and I did extra practice sessions with my awesome dancing partner Bunny. It was a very entertaining process.

Here’s a video of all the people worldwide practicing the same choreography:

I think it’s so cool that over 160 cities worldwide took part in the flash mob. To my knowledge the biggest group of flashers was right here in Brisbane – about 100 people.

FYI Bunny is a bit weird… you know like all women. She suggested that I should wear pink on the big day. I wasn’t very excited about her idea but decided to go through with it just because. I ended up wearing more pink than she did.

Here’s the video of us flashing in Brisbane. The clumsy tall guy wearing pink in the front row is me. 😀 Enjoy!

It was a thrill and I loved the experience. Just 30 minutes after our first performance we did the flash mob again at TEDxBrisbane during their lunch break. We spent the rest of the day having a picnic/BBQ in a park with some dancing. Thank you James (our instructor) for making this happen. You were fantastic!

Volunteering. This is another thing I wanted to do and several weeks ago I ticked this item off my bucket list. I went to a spring festival and volunteered in the ticket booth. It was super easy work but not very fulfilling. It wasn’t meaningful. Maybe if I had volunteered in a soup kitchen or something I would’ve felt better about myself… I might try that one day.

 

Work. About two weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to become a delivery driver. After all I had a car and I should use my resources in the most efficient way… said the homo economicus voice inside of me. “Luckily” I found a job. The interview was a very short one and they were happy to have me even though I’m driving a small hatchback Ford Festiva. They said that in the upcoming months before Christmas the number of small parcels will increase and they’re a bit bad for vans but perfect for small cars.

Anyway a day later I started my deliveries and discovered very quickly how stressful this job really was. For starters constant traffic noise, getting lost and dealing with upset customers were just some of my hurdles. Parking was a nightmare in the CBD and rush hour was never pleasant especially under time pressure – I had to deliver things before the shop/business closes. I wasn’t very happy about the pay either… to make decent money I’d need a van/ute. Deliveries with a van would double my income compared to the hatchback.

I did the courier driver gig for 6 days until I found a new job. This time I got a call from a plywood manufacturing company. I had applied for a job back there months ago and I didn’t even remember what the role was. I met the manager, had a quick talk and now I’m a process worker in that factory.

I’ve been there one week. It’s not a fancy job, but it pays the bills. I’m doing a bit of everything at the moment – working on the lathe, drier, gluer and press – all the production steps of plywood.

Until next time,

The Flasher in Pink

First quarter

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I know you’re all curious about my speed dating results. Well, I made 4 matches out of 20 but it’s not as good as it sounds because they were all “friendship” matches. Clearly I’m not what you’d call dating material.

This is not what I expected. I was hoping for a 20/20 score and hot girls calling me in the middle of the night and yelling “Take me now!” or “Can you be here in 10?” accompanied by an endless stream of sexts on my mobile phone. Man, my fantasy crashed and burned!

So I thought about the only thing I could do in this situation. I decided to take the advice of a self-made self-help guru who’s transformed the lives of millions of people. Ladies and gentlemen this is Jon Lajoie:

I like that quality of life increases in a straight line as you give less of a fuck. 😀 What a great concept!

Funny story about the video, I once sent this link to a French girl and the very next day she was fired. 😀 I couldn’t stop laughing once I heard about it. 😀 I’m pure evil! 😈

Change of topic. Last week I ran four personal best times (5K, 6.5K, 8K and 10K runs). I liked that. I kept telling myself “run like you mean it”, “run with purpose” and “I can, I can, I can”. The last one is from Bear Grylls’ autobiography. All that mantra really helped.

Sadly this week things are a bit different. Since I’m running a half marathon this Sunday I need to take it easy and save all my energy to kick ass during the race. Doing that is a bit harder than I thought… running slower than I could is a bit depressing. Weird! I’m hoping for a good time in my race (<100 minutes) and I know I can do it. Wish me luck!

Today is also my 25th birthday. I baked a cake (it’s a chocolate sponge, a true culinary masterpiece) and made a wish as I blew out the candles. I also received a letter (an actual snail mail letter in an envelope with a stamp and all) from the company where I had a job interview about a week ago. I wasn’t surprised when I read that a different candidate was selected for the position. Happy birthday indeed! I needed to watch the above video after I cried myself a river. I’m all good now.

Stay tuned till next time. I’ll write about my half marathon.

Another day, another interview

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Peter sat in his red chair. In fact we were all sitting in red chairs at a round table. Charlie, an older man, sat opposite of Peter. Charlie reminded me of David Harding… I liked him and his white hair. He seemed to be very „down to earth“. Peter was much younger. If I cut my hair short it would look exactly like his.

Deja vu, my friends, deja vu. About 3 years ago I applied for a trading trainee position at a prop trading business. Same setting: an older man (the owner) and a younger guy, the interview was in English in a fancy building. That interview was a disaster. I remember they told me what the salary for that role was going to be. It was much bigger than I expected plus a quarterly bonus from my profits. I was all smiles and asked them „When could I start?“. 😀 Idiot… Face palm… Stupid!

15 minutes, that was the shortest interview in my life. But I got the job! Back then. Funny how things turned out?

Today the interview went much better. Charlie said that it’d take only 20 minutes. They kept that promise. This was my second shortest job interview.

The associate equities analyst position I applied for was at a small boutique investment research company which employs only three people. They gave me a quick overview of what this role was about and some background about the company. I was asked several questions. They mostly wanted to know how interested I was in financial markets. I think I did quite well until another dreadful deja vu moment surfaced. Is it me or are all deja vu moments bad?

They asked me about my visa. I said I have a working holiday visa and I’m looking for a way to make a career in Australia and stay here permanently. I was a bit pissed because my resume has that visa information in it and they should have known about it. I had a similar job interview in January when everything went downhill once the visa question was asked. Same story. I guess employers don’t read resumes. The other explanation is that I’m a masochist – I enjoy pain and suffering. So I subconciously deleted the visa section from my resume and applied for those positions. Maybe that’s the case.

Anyway, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to gain some interview experience. Things went relatively well and my visa issue is actually something which is largely out of my control, so I shouldn’t beat myself up because of it. It is what it is.

Tech startup job interview

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I had a job interview today. It was for a tech startup which specializes in energy efficiency and minimizing water wastage. The position was in an IT role (similar to a job I previously had).

I think the interview went really well. Adrian gave me a very good overview of his company and about the role. I enjoyed talking to him and think that I’d be a great fit for the role. BUT my visa situation ruined the party. Adrian already employs a German guy with a working holiday visa who has to leave in a month. They are looking to replace him. I have the same visa as the German and can’t stay in Australia permanently. Therefore I probably won’t get the job.

Oh well. It was good practice and I got some experience points. Better luck next time!

Graduate Assessment Day at Aristocrat

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I put on some nice clothes for the interview, packed all my stuff from Caroline’s place and went for my interview. The journey was about 30 km and I started 1.5 hours before the start of the activities at Aristocrat.
I remember my GPS telling me to take a right turn. After that turn I discovered that I was supposed to take the next right turn but since there were cars everywhere and rush-hour was being a bitch I had no choice but to go into a tunnel. The speed in the tunnel was 20 km/h tops and at the end of the tunnel was Bondi Beach or Bondi Junction (sorry, this was my second visit to Sydney). Great, 30 minutes of driving and I’m back at square one.
I made several other minor mistakes along the way but 10 minutes before 9AM I saw the Aristocrat building. All I needed to do was park my car. Since I was in a rush I parked my car half-illegally near the Aristocrat building and was glad to pay $4 per hour for parking (several weeks ago I had an interview in Brisbane CBD where I paid $50 for an hour for parking).
I rushed into the building and was able to make it on time. So the day didn’t start perfectly, I was a bit frustrated, nervous and anxious – not a great way to start a job interview.

The receptionist pointed me to the other candidates and shortly after that we were all listening to a presentation about the company and its products.
After that we had “group activity”. There were 12 candidates and we were divided into 3 groups. Each group had to build a basket or protective cage around an egg such that if the egg was dropped from 2 meters it would not brake. Our construction materials included plastic straws, plastic plates, cups, paper plates, pencils, cotton pads etc. Each material had a price and our budget was $1000. This group exercise was a lot of fun. It acted as a great icebreaker and to some extent helped to assess our teamwork abilities and also creativity.
Everybody’s egg basket design was successful and no eggs were harmed during this exercise. Now the networking session started. Well technically it lasted until the very end of the assessment day.
All the candidates were guided into a mini-casino where we could play the pokies and ask designers and software developers about the job and about working at Aristocrat. At the same time each candidate had to go back into the room to give a presentation about themselves and why he/she was a good fit for the company. We had to make the presentation at home before the interview.
I think that my presentation went really well. My strategy was to focus on games and coming across as really enthusiastic about games. So I talked about the video and computer games I’ve played and why I liked them. It was funny and I got the jury to laugh several times. Mission accomplished!
I’ve never really put this much effort into a job interview. It took me about 6 hours to make the slides, I practiced my speech 20-30 times, also used a mirror to fine tune my body language. Since the role required strong numerical skills I spent my time solving math and probability problems. I also practiced my answers to interview questions.
After my presentation the networking session continued and the interviews started. Three people were asking questions and I was answering them. For example I was asked:

  • What kind of pokie game would I make where the theme was eggs just like in the group activity? What about a pokie game with financial markets as the theme?
  • Why do I want to transition from a financial markets background into games design?
  • What games do I play? Do I have a playstation?
  • Why do I want to work at Aristocrat?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 years?
  • Which kind of visa do I have and when will it expire? I think this was one of the last questions asked. It seemed that they didn’t like that I was in Australia on a Working Holiday visa although I’m quite sure that they could’ve organized an Employee Nominated Sponsorship for this role.

The interview lasted for about 15-20 minutes. In total I spent more than 5 hours at Aristocrat. At the end of the day my head was a big mess about games, design and regulations. I learned a lot about the industry and the company. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed my time at Aristocrat.