Stenciled Memories: Celebrating RareJob’s 15th Anniversary

by Kiara Cutamora-Tackett | November 21, 2023

Employee Journals

I joined RareJob in February 2008 as a part-time tutor. I still remember thinking to myself that this gig will only last for a few months, and like my friends, I will probably be moving to medical or graduate school. After 15 colorful years, I’m still here! At present, I am the appointed Director for Human Resources, Tutor Management, and Legal divisions of RareJob Philippines, Inc.


I was 20 years old when I started and looking back, it is amazing how much I have grown personally and professionally. I experienced career highs and lows, acquired new perspectives, met a lot of interesting people, and made lasting friendships.


I heard about RareJob from one of my housemates and decided to join as one of their tutors in 2008. That was also around the same time when Kato-san was creating a team of full-time staff. After attending my first Tutor Gathering, and meeting Kato-san, Gaku-san, and Ate Shem, I was invited to join as a full-time staff.


For us to be officially part of the team, we had to go through a 5-day Problem Solving Training in Krus na Ligas (the legendary KNL). On our second day of the training, I was ready to quit, not because the training was exceptionally hard, but because I honestly thought it was not the right job for me. The training was not particularly appealing or enticing – it was held in a very tiny and dingy studio apartment in KNL! During the day we used the space for training, and at night, it transformed into a Tutor Support den. After 12 midnight, we would put all electronics on one side, and the space became our bedroom.

5-Day Problem Solving Skill Training with Kato-san for New Staff in KNL Office (2008)

When I look back on how I started my career, I am nothing but grateful that I got to experience all of that. We did not have a proper office yet, so we literally had to build one. There were no automated processes – everything was done manually. During tutor fee season, we would go by pairs to different banks with hundreds of thousands of pesos in our bags and deposit each tutor’s wages manually.


We were starting something up, in the truest sense of the word.


During my first few years as a staff, I did not have any specific goals with respect to roles and positions. I was just going with the flow, trying to see where this job would take me. As I’ve said, I did not really think that I would stay in RareJob for long. In fact, I would consider myself as one of the low performers during my early years. My outputs were so-so, I was habitually late, and I did not really fit in because my colleagues and I had different interests.


I did not hit my professional stride until late 2011, when Kato-san and Gaku-san asked me work on improving Sound Quality, Video Usage, and Tutoring Notes metrics. At that time, my main task was QA – I had to screen Business English Tutors and manage their schedules. From time to time, I would do evaluation tasks as well. So I do not know why they assigned a data-heavy task to me because I have never directly handled any data analytics-related tasks previously. I did not have any experience working with heavy data, although I did pass my Math subjects in college without any issues but that’s about it. I was not exceptionally good at numbers – but working with them and witnessing firsthand what they can do with data, it changed my perspective completely.


That was the pivotal moment when I realized that this job is something I can enjoy doing and be proud of at the same time, because I can generate ideas out of data and I can test those ideas in real life. I was solving real problems and it felt good! More importantly, I was working directly with two of the smartest people I know and that gave me the boost and the desire to contribute to the company.


After that, I decided to be more open to assuming roles and handling projects that I virtually had zero experience in. Growing up I thought I was more of the passive-follower type, but then after working in RareJob for a few years, my biggest realization was that, apparently, I am happier as a competitive and assertive team player. That gave me the confidence to take on leadership roles and to work with  Japanese counterparts.


RareJob provided me with the right environment where I can really come out of my shell and unlock skills which I thought I could never do and I am forever grateful for that. I’ve been part of the different business arms of RJPH and I learned skills and gained knowledge that I would treasure for the rest of my life. Even in the roles and projects where I have failed, I took them as learning experiences and chances for me to do even better.

Trip to Japan with CEO, Nishijo Yasushi-san (2019)

Reflecting on my 15-year journey, I can confidently say that I’ve picked up a lot of life lessons along the way – some lessons came with victory, but the most important ones are those that came with defeat.


I leave you with these points that I constantly remind myself:

Take things seriously, but don’t take everything personally – Be serious with the work you do, but when you get feedback and criticism from your superiors and peers, take them constructively and build upon them next time. Don’t hold grudges against the people who have an opinion about your work.


Learn to compartmentalize your work and personal life – One thing I love about RareJob is that I am able to wear different hats outside work because my free time is respected. The work has to start with you, though. Not everything is about work so make sure you allow yourself to do meaningful things outside of it.


Listen to understand, not to respond – If you have read or are reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people, Habit 5 sums this up quite well. When dealing with peers, we instinctively respond from an autobiographical standpoint. We have to actively make an effort to understand where the other person is coming from before saying our piece.


Surround yourself with like-minded people – You don’t have to agree on everything, and you may even butt heads at times, but you must share the same drive and the same values towards work.

Ilocos Trip with RJPH Colleagues (2011)

Be nice, but don’t be a pushover – Be nice to everyone, whether they are your superiors or your subordinates. I know you might think that the opposite is the way to go, that being tough gives you the protection and leverage to take on big roles, but I find that it’s really not. As long as you set healthy boundaries for yourself, it will help build lasting work relationships.


Practice healthy positivity – As I’ve shared during our Anniversary event, staying positive amidst tough situations helps you stay levelheaded and keeps your mind clear so you can make better decisions on how to improve you situation.


Motivation comes and goes, so don’t lose sight of your goals – We experience periods in our lives when we feel unmotivated and it is normal to feel that way. I find that constantly reminding yourself about your goals is the key to keep going!


Years from now, plans and paths may change, but one thing I am sure of is that I will always be rooting for RareJob. I’m immensely proud of what RareJob has become today and I’m honored to be part of its story. It truly has enriched the lives of many Filipino tutors by providing equal chances, wherever they may be.

RareJob PH's Management with CEO, Yasu-san, at the RJPH Office (2023)

Thank you for reading my story!