Shaping My Career

Life: I got engaged! And my college bestie got engaged a week later!
– I flew out to the east coast for one weekend and had a small engagement ceremony at my parent’s house. I flew right back to California to attend an onsite interview.
– My mom is hardcore planning my wedding already. I feel like there’s a lot of miscommunication between my parents and my boyfriend’s parents as compared to me and my boyfriend. It may also be that my mom has a lot of free time to overthink things, gets stressed incredibly easily, and has (sometimes unreasonably) high expectations of everyone around her.
– We haven’t made our relationship social media official yet. We have to at least wait until my boyfriend calls or messages all of his close friends and relatives with the news.

Health & wellness: I didn’t work out at all in June. And I don’t have health insurance now that it’s July.
– I took advantage of being out of work to catch up on appointments with my doctor and dentist. I got a 6-month dental checkup and annual physical in the last week of June while I still had coverage. I also got a tetanus shot and had blood work done. I’m grateful for my health and won’t need any appointments till December/January, when I’m due to visit the optometrist and dentist.
– I have until August to elect COBRA coverage and have it be retroactively applied to July. The health insurance I had under my employer would cost $645/month. This is too much coverage and too expensive for my non-existent needs, so I’ve been meaning to look into Obamacare. I’ll spend more time on this towards the end of July after I finish my job search.

Financial:
– I didn’t have any income in June and am surprised at how little I thought about money. I worried a little about cash flow after paying July rent before my roommates paid me back for their part of the rent, but things went smoothly overall. After my last paycheck of $4K gets deposited next week, I won’t need to think about money till mid-August.
– I’m still holding $6K cash in my brokerage account but don’t expect to need it until the end of August if I haven’t gotten my first paycheck by then.
– My portfolio could use rebalancing but it’s not urgent so I’ll wait till I finish my job search.
– Facebook announced a new currency called Libra which caused Bitcoin to jump in value. As a result I added my crypto wallet under “Other Assets”. It contains 2 ETH and I’ll keep it a static category going forward.

Career:
– I successfully navigated a dozen onsites so far and am fielding multiple job offers. I have more onsites next week and possibly the week after so I’m still practicing my interview skills this weekend.
– Now I’m starting to reflect on what I really want in a new role and whether I could picture actually working at various companies for multiple years. I’m also wondering how to shape my career. For example if I take a job doing a similar type of engineering as I have been doing, then will I become a specialist in a couple more years and have more generalist opportunities close as a result? (No.) Should I stick with public companies as I have been doing thus far in my career or am I ready to take the compensation risk to join late-stage startups? (I have enough net worth that I feel okay accepting a job at a startup I believe in.) Say the company I do want to join can’t match the highest offer I receive, then do I forget the money and join the company I like? How much do I hold out until a good company comes along that is willing to pay more than any other offer? (Depends on how much interview fatigue I have at the end of this month.)
– Another focus is to negotiate well and get a competitive offer that reflects the skills I’ve honed in the last 2 years. My best written offer so far is from a public company at $165K salary and $65K RSUs per year. While I primarily care about the team and type of work I’ll be doing in my new job, I still want to be paid well. If I can successfully convey this to recruiters then I could profit by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

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Thoughts on Job Searching

Life: I had a wonderful time spending Memorial Day with two college friends who flew in from Texas.
– I had told my parents that I was studying for interviews back in February, I told them I was looking for a job at the beginning of May, and today I told them that I quit my job because I was having trouble meeting deadlines at work after I made my mind up to find a new job. My mother is a big worrier and gets anxious if bad things happen that are out of her control. I’m grateful that my father works in tech and he helped reassure my mom that the job market is hot and I won’t have any trouble finding a new job. I feel justified in waiting a few weeks to tell her because having options like an offer in hand if I wanted to accept as well as multiple onsite interview request all helped reassure her. At first she was very hesitant and I could feel her apprehension and worry over the phone but 30 mins later I felt like she was smiling and my parents both wished me good luck in my job search. This was THE MOST NERVERACKING conversation I had in the past month but I’m glad that I could walk my parents through my thought process and that they trust I’ll be okay.
– My boyfriend booked flights for his family to fly out to meet my family around Fourth of July. Because I’m anonymous I can share this early, we’re getting engaged!

Health & wellness: As expected, I only worked out 6 times in May. Even though I’ve stopped exercising, I’m also eating less so I weigh the same.
– I have health, dental, and vision insurance till the end of June, I will have to explore COBRA or some alternatives for health insurance by then. I’m considering going without health insurance till I find a job if there is no tax penalty for going without insurance anymore.

Financial:
– I turbocharged my 401K in the last month I was employed and have thus contributed over $14K and got $7K in employer contributions for 2019.
– I currently have sufficient cash for my needs and am still holding $6K cash in my brokerage account
– My portfolio is only about 20% international stocks now. I’ve tried to maintain a 30/70 split between international/domestic for over a year so it’s time to rebalance.

Career:
– I’ve never felt in a position of power in my career so I often opted to please others in my job even if it happened at the detriment of completing my tasks. This is my main learning from my previous job, to be selfish and not care so much about helping others. I won’t make the same mistake in my next one.
– Job searching is emotionally draining in a different way than working full time. Working involves a lot of monotony and grinding while job searching is an emotional rollercoaster of social interactions, acceptances, and rejects on both mine and the company’s parts. Job searching plays to my strengths of people pleasing and test taking/being book smart so I’m not worried.
– The current difficulty in my job search is making sure I schedule onsites close enough together that I can get multiple offers and pit competing offers against each other.

Looking for a Job

Life: I took a weekend roadtrip with my bf a few weeks ago and flew to Texas last weekend. I’m also looking forward to two friends flying in from Texas over Memorial Day weekend! 😀
– I flew to Texas to celebrate my best friend graduating with a Masters this past weekend. A mutual friend from our college also attended and it was really nice catching up with them.
– My boyfriend’s parents are visiting for a couple months so I hardly get to see him once a week. Needless to say I really miss him and it’s highlighted the need for me to move and be geographically closer to him. The San Francisco Bay Area is a huge metropolitan region spanning 9 counties and maybe 100 miles north to south depending on how you’re measuring. My boyfriend and I live 45 miles and 2 counties away so it’s definitely a trek to see each other. It’s time to change this.
– I’m reaching out to a lot of friends, classmates and colleagues asking them to refer me to the companies where they work. It’s at this point that I’m thankful that I’m on good terms with so many people in my industry and area. I referred quite a few of them to my company when they were looking for a job and they are giving me lots of advice and resources going into my job search. The most valuable advice is coming from friends who attended interviewing bootcamps as these friends know how to structure and manage time and companies.

Health & wellness: I worked out 13 times in April, so actually stayed pretty even with March numbers. But definitely dropping drastically in May.

Financial:
– I got my state tax return, this definitely helps with my cash flow situation.
– I’m so glad for having cash on hand right now. I have $6K in my checking account on top of about $6K in cash I’m holding in my brokerage account. This amount is counted in “Stocks” but I’m currently thinking of it as an emergency fund I can transfer to checking if necessary. This will tide me through at least 3 months of unemployment, though I’m hoping for under 1 month without a salary. I’m also planning to sell recently vested RSUs as usual but I may keep the proceeds in cash until I find a new job rather than reinvesting them immediately.
– I cancelled my ESPP contribution and I’m doubling my 401K contribution for the remainder of my employment because I don’t think my new company will have such a generous matching policy as my current company.

Career:
– I am searching for a new job, both because I came to grips with reality in my current job as well as to move closer to my boyfriend. I feel like I’ve been walking a tightrope for the past 6 months. Either I do things with an eye for the long term and blow through deadlines or I hit deadlines and ignore any work that’s not absolutely essential to the task at hand. I prefer doing the former while my manager prefers me doing the latter. Both of us finally lost patience with the ensuing disappointment, and I officially resigned yesterday. My last day is around mid-June so I have time to line up what I’m doing next.
– I’m giving a lot of thought to where I want to be next. There’s many aspects of my work that I enjoy like my teammates and the technologies, but engineering here is very much run by committee which gets frustrating. I work at a tech behemoth so I’m looking to join a small or mid-sized company now. I also want to keep making a similar amount of money which is hard because I’m very much stuck here with golden handcuffs. I think this is something I’ll figure out as I interview at more places and talk to more people.
– I’m in a good spot in terms of interview prep. Prepping for software engineering roles involves a lot of studying data structures, algorithms, and system design. I started practicing data structures and algorithms on leetcode.com in February and have solved 80 questions so far including a few hard ones. My interview prep on the side may even have correlated with my unintentionally slacking at work over the past few months, I’m not sure. I took a break from interview prep in April in a last ditch effort to salvage my job and I’m glad I did so, but it didn’t work so now I made a plan to get the most well-rounded practice from my prep time. The take-away here being: Trust my gut and dive in immediately and whole-heartedly when it says I need a change.

Finally Focusing on Work

Life: Still local since the last entry. Still planning on visiting a friend in mid-May. Still haven’t booked flights yet.
– Highlight of my month: I went to Women Who Code’s Connect 2019 conference in SF. I volunteered for WWC so I got to attend for free. I really enjoyed getting to learn about all the amazing women working in my industry.
– I went to San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown last weekend. The weekend before I met a friend to walk in Golden Gate Park for an afternoon.
– I’m Konmarie’ing my boyfriend’s apartment to some extent by giving him closet and drawer organizers. I commute to and from his place so nowadays we spend most nights together. We also attended a friend’s engagement party together this past month and got invited to another friend’s wedding in July.

Health & wellness: I worked out 14 times in March. But I’m skipping the evening classes I usually attend at the company gym lately and working late instead. I won’t match this number in April.
– I got a DXA scan earlier this week and I’m composed of 36% body fat, which put’s me at 80th percentile for 20-somethings. I was at 36% one year ago, I plateaued. I need to start watching what I eat, especially sweets, in order to make progress getting a healthier body. -_-
– I tried out a few dance studios nearby and decided I like the fitness classes at my company’s gym the best.

Financial:
– I filed federal and state taxes. But I think I made a mistake entering the cost-basis of the stocks I bought through ESPP so I want to go back and check whether I need to file an amendment.
– Grove was really good in getting my boyfriend more comfortable thinking about and discussing questions around finances and goals as a couple. He learned the concept of having limited investment options in a 401K and is thinking about the pros and cons of rolling over his old 401K vs. keeping it as-is. I was surprised to learn that he knew what accredited investors were and had done some research about becoming one.
– My boyfriend and I also discussed goals we wanted to reach before and after meeting with the Grove financial advisor. It’s made the future seem a lot more concrete and close-at-hand.

Career:
– I got a warning from my manager that I -need- to show results at work so I’ve been really diligent in the office for the past month. I use Pomotodo every day to track when I work and what I work on. I also plan what to work on each day and Pomotodo makes me keep re-focusing on completing those tasks.
– My boyfriend cooks more and it’s done alot freeing up energy and willpower I expend for food. I used to pick up dinner from a restaurant for both of us on my way to his home. Lately I have dinner at work while he cooks himself chicken breasts or other frozen food. He packs tea in my water bottle in the morning for me to drink during my commute to work. And he keeps oatmeal or can make me eggs in the morning on the weekends. Spending the night with him makes me feel less guilty about going to work early and staying late because we still spend sufficient time together. So him leveling up in the kitchen is indirectly helping me focus on my career.

Making Space for Career

I’m trying out a new format. Let me know how you like it!

Life: I stayed local in February but I am considering making the trip to a friend’s graduation in May.
– Highlight of my month: Going to the Exploratorium on Valentine’s Day. It was open in the evening for adults-only, plus they had special chocolate-themed exhibits. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of their adults-only evenings.
– I went to a Cal Performances show in Berkeley with an old colleague. The show itself was overpriced; I’ll only go again if a show -really- intrigues me. But my friend and I chatted for hours afterwards over food and coffee. I super enjoyed catching up since I hadn’t seen her since last year!
– Finally, I made my boyfriend watch a couple episodes of Marie Kondo and he hated it. He couldn’t understand why she was so happy and squealed with joy whenever she entered the home. He understood why I felt vindicated by her philosophy of tidy tho. For years I’ve wanted him to assign a designated place for his household things. Haha!

Health & wellness: I worked out 12 times in February.
– I went to the optometrist and used up last and this years’ FSA funds for a year of contacts. I spent $70 on top of insurance and FSA: $10 in copay, $30 for a special test to check for blood flow, etc. which was healthy, $30 to express my Meibomian gland since the optometrist said it was clogged and causing the dryness in my right eye. Afterwards I watched videos about it and will use a warm towel on my eyes if I notice a clog going forward. Now that I’ve tried them, I won’t do the special test or gland expression again.
– I got a hair trim. Yay no more split ends!

Financial:
– I converted my Traditional IRA to Roth.
– I started taxes around President’s Day and plan to file by next week. I’ll need to pay a lot in federal taxes since I didn’t have enough withheld and I’ll get a state tax refund. I’m pooling together extra cash to pay the IRS next month.
– I scheduled an appointment with a Grove financial planner in mid-March for me and my boyfriend. It cost me the early bird price of $600 since I got on the wait list last year; their regular price is $900 annually. We connected all our accounts before scheduling the appointment and the planner asked me to fill out a spreadsheet with our cash flow, earnings, etc. before our appointment.

Career:
– I think I spend less time keeping up with media now. I worry less about coordinating my schedule with my boyfriend’s too. I’m spending that time doing Leetcode a few hours a week instead. I’ve solved 21 questions so far.
– At my boyfriend’s recommendation, I’m trying out Pomotodo to track my time at work. I like it so far but often forget to start tracking when I start working on something.

A lot of fanciness for a simple girl

I stuck around this month. I played badminton with a couple friends the first weekend, hung out with alumni from my graduate college the next weekend, spent MLK Day weekend with my boyfriend in SF, and was very much a homebody last weekend. My boyfriend has never been to a Women’s March and I considered taking him the Saturday before MLK Day, but did laundry and yoga instead. He made some digital art that Sunday and I did another hour of yoga. We cooked together for an Indian holiday on MLK day. We also went to a beach where my boyfriend took a perfect picture of the wind in my hair in the sunset, it’s currently tied as my 4th most-liked post on Instagram. Last but opposite of least, my boyfriend got me a super pretty watch for my birthday and planned a dinner at what I swear is the fanciest Indian restaurant in the city. They had a tasting menu for restaurant week so we had a full 3 course meal. It was inventive and filling and delicious, I can’t even… Two of the dishes I got were topped with gold foil!

Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is all the rage right now. I tidied the files and photos on my personal laptop, thumb drives, and microSD cards and took a backup of my personal files from my work laptop last weekend. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time; it felt good removing it from my todo list. The next steps are to backup my personal laptop and phone, and tidy my external hard drive. Also, I had a pile of old clothes that were too worn to donate. Did you know that H&M takes back such clothes for textile recycling and gives you a 15% off coupon for bring them in? I don’t know what they do with the clothes, but it eases my conscience knowing I didn’t just throw them away and I got a 15% off H&M coupon to boot.

I worked out 15 times this month, keeping to my thrice a week schedule. Moreover, I had gotten my mom to start a 30 day workout program over the holidays. She finished the foundation and has now moved on to a second 30 day program, I’m so proud of her for taking charge of her body! I scheduled an optometrist appointment as well as my yearly DEXA scan. I’m planning to use up FSA funds from last year to get contacts and may get prescription glasses or sunglasses using this year’s funds. Since I’ve let my hair grow out for the past 1.5 years, I have A TON of split-ends and badly need a haircut but oh well. Overall, I’m content on the health front.

Financially, there’s a lot going on. I made my backdoor Roth IRA contribution for 2019 and invested it all in ITOT. I have to fill out and mail in a form in order to convert my Traditional IRA monies into Roth, so I’m super jealous of my boyfriend who can convert his online. I also introduced my boyfriend to the helpful graphics on Personal Capital from which you can get a handle on your asset allocation and sector breakdown. I find those and the Investment Checkup page the 3 most helpful pages on Personal Capital. My manager brought up compensation during one of our weekly 1-1 meetings. I was happy with my compensation but that meeting made me research what the market rate is like, just to check. The conclusion: I’m still happy with my compensation.

In terms of work, I’m totally failing my 2019 goal to become more engaged with my industry. But I have become a slightly more productive worker in the past 6 months, my manager said so. I still don’t have a plan for achieving this goal, but I realize I have to let some other things go in order spend more time on my career. I’m not sure what to let go yet so I’ll cool my expectations for now while I focus on making time and space for this.

2018 Financial Review

Every January I review how the past year went, compare it to previous year’s prediction, and give an estimate for the upcoming year. My last paycheck for the year says I got 296K W-2 gross income in 2018. From what I can tell of my brokerage accounts, I had at least 4K investment income. That puts me over 300K pre-tax income for the year, which is just astounding to me as I never imagined making so much growing up! But my boyfriend likes to quote Professor Scott Galloway saying “It’s not how much you earn, but how much you burn.” so I’d also like to calculate my annual expenses and savings rate for the year. Let’s see how this year compared to my 2017 Financial Review predictions…

Category Predicted Actual Notes
Cash No change -6K I just made a 6K backdoor IRA contribution for 2019.
Stocks (Brokerages + ESPP proceeds) +141K +148K I had predicted 119K RSU contributions using pre-tax numbers, the actual uses post-tax proceeds. From my paycheck, I actually got 130K of RSU’s pre-tax. Between ESPP and RSUs I got 112K post-tax, sold 98K of it (all RSUs and some ESPP), and am currently holding 18K. I believe in my company and can wait till ESPP stock becomes a long position.
Retirement (401K + IRAs) +27K +34K I contributed 28K to my 401K and am counting a 6K 2019 backdoor IRA contribution with this annual review.
Other (Rollover IRA) No change -.3K I rolled my rollover IRA into my 401K. I hadn’t planned to do this last January.
Car Loan Paid Off Paid Off My car turned 5. I paid off the loan and own it outright.
Everything Else No change No change I have a lower credit card balance and have misplaced some Treasury bonds.

My net worth increased by 139K to 353K in 2018 between December 2017 and December 2018 entries, broken down as follows:

  • Cash: 11K original amount, -6K change from 2019 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
  • Stocks: 85K original amount, +121K change
    • +36K personal savings
    • +29K ESPP contributions for five quarters
    • +83K proceeds selling RSUs
    • -28K losses remaining. I realized 5K gains, 3.5K losses, and have 15K unrealized losses in IXUS.
  • Retirement: 122K original amount, +21K change
    • +18.5K my contributions
    • +9.25K company contributions
    • +6K 2019 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
    • +.3K IRA rolled in
    • -13K losses remaining
  • Other: Rolled .3K into 401K
  • Car Loan: Paid off remaining 2K
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

2019 Estimates

  • Cash: +6K for 2020 backdoor Roth IRA contribution
  • Stocks: +24K ESPP contributions for four quarters, +50K proceeds selling RSUs
  • Retirement: +19K my contributions, +9.5K company contributions
  • Bonds: Currently this is a placeholder for some misplaced Treasury bonds. I want to either find them or write them off as lost forever.
  • Everything else: Stay the same, within $3K of current levels

Annual Expenses & Savings Rate

300K pre-tax and 201K after-tax is probably a good estimate of how much income I made in 2018. I saved 182K this year and my expenses are ~28K so I have an 86-90% after-tax savings rate.

  • Taxes: 99K total (withheld so far)
    • 58K federal
    • 27.5K state
    • 13K SS & Medicare
  • Stock Contributions: 148K
  • Retirement Contributions: 34K
  • Rent: 12K, I share a 3 bd apt with roommates
  • Credit Cards: 16K, I pay off my balances in full each month