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Career opportunities (the ones that knock you out)

Pushing the envelope on national industrialization with Philippines 2000 gone kaput when Erap assumed office, there is an influx of job opportunities where so-called export processing zones exist, usually south of Manila, or even south of Luzon. I have been working in the south for as long as I remember, juggling between Laguna and Cavite, making friends and decapitating managers along the way.

If you dream of offices with a view, and if you qualify tall cogon grass and Amorsolo-esque countryside as the view, then this is it, your dream job and your chosen career ladder is here. Not to mention that stepping on cow manure is part of the office shit that you'll be facing. For those who have graduated from an arts-and-sciences school or from a branch of AMA in your own province, good for you, there is an EPZ nearby that can hire you and you can even get out for lunch and catch some zzz's as home is just a tricycle-ride away.

But for those citybred rats from the so-called Ivy League of the Philippines (I'm washing my hands, I'm not dissing the guys from AMA or some obscure university. Equal opportunities for all, please.), getting a job in an EPZ is not an excursion to Matabungkay Beach. As if you would dress up in long sleeves and necktie for a job interview in Cavite which would take you a train, plus two bus rides, a jeepney and a kilometer on foot. Things to keep in mind if you want to be an expatriate in another province:

1. Ask if they have a Manila-based liaison office and if it is possible if you can be interviewed there. Or if you can be interviewed instead on phone, or via webcam. Most of these companies are high-tech anyway and it would be possible to take advantage of their facilities.

2. If you have a car, can borrow one, or hitch with a fellow applicant, do. Or let your boyfriend drive for you. These EPZ's are like residential subdivisions in the process of development in some unknown barangay but with lofty names such as Sulfur Breeze Industrial Estate or Mountain Smog Science Park. As been said, it might take you hell or high water to get there, and it's just the beginning. A car also comes in handy when going out, as public transportation inside is usually synchronized with shifts. You may need to hitchhike on hot concrete at worst.

3. Dress light. You wouldn't want to trek the dusty roads of Batangas in those stilettos or ride an ordinary bus in your Armani tie. Be appropriate when going to the provinces for an interview. Either people will suspect you to be a salesman, an attendee of some prayer rally, or you mistook prom night in August. Companies based in the province tend to be considerate, and some can be asked if you can come in jeans. As smog is practically nonexistent here, the afternoon sun of Cavite might activate the anghit in the chiffon-bloused you.

4. Travel light, and be discreet. Never carry a knapsack. Keep it as small as possible. An applicant who proudly says he is an applicant is a dead applicant. Some barangays are known to have a one-is-to-one ratio with respect to firearms. If you can, fold your resumes in little envelopes, or have them faxed. Promise to bring your requirements on the first day of office. Don't bring packed lunch or sandwiches as they may be subject to scrutiny by paranoid security guards. Candies will do as pangtawid-gutom. If you are desperate, slaughter the nearest pig from a kubo in the vicinity.

5. Be tolerant, be very tolerant of your fellow applicants (and sometimes, the parents who tag along). You and some from rival schools may be cooped in one cubicle while waiting for your turn. If either of you breaks the ice, be prepared to hear mindless chatters of how many companies have called them, or how this one company promises to train him overseas in Ryukyu Islands for a year.

6. Be prepared to wait for an eternity. If the HR staff says you come over at 10AM, you will be interviewed at 2PM. Ergo, cancel all your appointments for the day. Sometimes you will be asked to go back some other time because the hiring manager needs to take a leave. As a corollary, be kind to the HR staff at this point, and in your first days of office. Time your vengeance during performance appraisal by e-mailing the HR manager the horrors you experienced at the hands of her staff.

7. Say "yes" to the following questions: Are you willing to render overtime? Work on weekends? Be on call 24x7? Relocate nearby? They don't take note of them, and applicants always say yes anyway. The interviewers are the ones who wouldn't want to extend hours anyway.

8. If you can hitch a ride on the company shuttle, assuming you don't have a car and you got interviewed in the last hour of the shift, do. It's your passport out of terra incognita.

On top of these tips, do not forget that it's a job interview that you are going to. Not a prom, not a prayer rally. I assumed you did some company research, and brushed up on interview tips that you downloaded in Jobstreet. Don't belittle the interviewer if he slips on his grammar or demonstrates the pee-fee defect as not all promdi's are that way and not all are promdi's in the first place. You might meet him on your trip to the neighborhood grocery so be careful.

“Career opportunities (the ones that knock you out)”