Back to the Books: A Step Closer to a Master’s Degree

by Kim Nebria | January 22, 2021

The Silver Lining

Most of us look forward to professional and personal growth, whether this is working towards a promotion, or furthering our education. This, of course, requires drive and courage to take on new things and to step out of our comfort zones. One such staff from our Talent Training and Performance Team, Mary Kim Noreene Nebria, saw the work from home setup as an opportunity to take up her Master’s degree! With more than two years with RareJob PH under her belt, Kim shares how she stepped out of her comfort zone to become a full-time staff, part-time student!

The workstation and study table

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Fresh out of high school, I never imagined myself taking up Psychology as my undergraduate degree. Actually, I was anxious since I only had little knowledge on that subject; from what I knew, psychology involved talking to a lot of people. Given my introverted nature, I was frightened and anxious that time because I was not good at socializing with people, and I was not used to it.  I had my hesitations, my what-ifs, all those thoughts pushing me to drop everything in a heartbeat.

However, I tried to collect myself by organizing my thoughts. I figured I won’t improve myself if I won’t take a risk. I won’t get anywhere if I stayed in my comfort zone.  Hence, upon careful deliberation, I took the risk and enrolled. It was a challenge for me but eventually, I became interested in studying human behavior. Psychology has a wide range of fields to explore but overall, I liked how I was able to interact with a lot of people. I figured I would like to help people grow and assist them in finding their purpose.

This led me to the HR industry wherein I was given the chance to do what I love to do most – helping people. Working in this field, I met countless people, interacted with them, and listened to them. It still amazes me how each encounter is a new opportunity to get to know them better. I’ve been in this industry for almost 4 years now and I could say that this has been my comfort zone. There are still a lot of things to learn, but I enjoy what I am doing right now.

Well-studied textbook, complete with highlights

Then, the pandemic happened. It felt as if everything had been put on pause. On normal days, I usually feel as if my day revolves around a commute-work-commute-sleep cycle which has been my everyday routine. Given the current work-from-home set-up, I felt incomplete. I don’t have to spend 2-3 hour commute every morning and evening. Before, everything felt fast-paced but currently, I felt my world stopped because I have to adapt to a new lifestyle. It gave me a lot of time to think.

How could I get out of my comfort zone? How can I become a better version of myself? What is my purpose in life? One night, while I was preparing for our New Employee Orientation, I came across this particular line from Stephen Covey. “Our basic nature is to act, and not be acted upon. As well as enabling us to choose our response to particular circumstances, this empowers us to create circumstances.”

Surmounting Challenges

That’s when it hit me. I can create opportunities for myself; all I have to do is take the risk. Applying habit 2 from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, I keep on thinking about my personal mission statement, my purpose. I realized that I will not go anywhere if I won’t take a step. So, I consulted my supervisor and the team, checked my workloads and the class schedule to ensure that no tasks will be affected, taking Habit 3 into account: Putting First Things First.

Everyone has been very supportive of my decision and it made me hit that submit button on the enrolment page. I believe I would be able to help people grow; mental health has always been my advocacy, that’s why for my Master’s degree, I chose to continue my studies in Psychology. I greatly appreciate that RareJob has allowed us to work from home, opening up this opportunity for self-growth.

I finished my first semester last December. I feel relieved because it has been a huge lifestyle change for me. I always remind myself: first things first. As Covey said, “the key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” I admit that this is an everyday challenge for me, given how unpredictable our situation has become. Looking back at the first semester, I could not believe I survived.

Relaxation through mobile gaming

I remembered that time around the last quarter of 2020, the months when the bulk of my tasks were concentrated in, together with a major company event happening in December. Those were highly-critical tasks with little to no room for errors. Apart from that, I had my midterm exams at the same time, while preparing the final requirements such as research proposals, case studies, and presentations. My mind was all over the place. Thankfully, I had the support of my team.

Communication is vital at times like those, so I informed my team regarding my situation. I divided my tasks into Covey’s 4 quadrants to be productive and focused on doing highly important and critical tasks while preparing those that require more time. I kept on reminding myself why and for whom I was doing these. Thankfully, Christmas break was fast approaching. Indeed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all.

Self Renewal

Entering the second semester, I can now say that I’ve adjusted pretty well. So far, I was able to keep track of my tasks by maintaining a to-do list every day. Like I said, learn to schedule your priorities.

Also, it’s not wrong to ask for help if things get overwhelming, and most importantly, take some breaks. We are not machines that could work hours on end in front of our devices. It’s okay to just lie down and take your mind out of your tasks for a while. Once in a while, we’ll encounter lots of stressful situations that may trigger our self-destruct buttons. We don’t want that; as much as possible, spend some time for yourself for renewal. As the seventh and final Habit teaches us: Sharpen the Saw.

For me, self-renewal is spending some alone-time doing some sketches, keeping my journal updated, and of course, playing online games with my friends. Currently, I am into an indie social game which I could say has been my huge stress reliever ever since the pandemic started. These are just some of the little things that I love to do to feel renewed.

2020 has been a wild ride and 2021 looks like it has a lot in store for us. With this, let us take this opportunity to pause and find our own purpose. Sometimes, all it takes is a leap of faith, and the will to create more opportunities for our own selves. But of course, you should take into account your own circumstances. Consider the risks and the possible consequences of every decision that you’ll make. Tell yourself: if you already have a clear vision of where you want to go, make the first step. It may be a challenge; but if you love what you’re doing, you’ll get there.