Monday, 5 August 2013

A Painful $500 Lesson

Last friday was the last day of my employment at the prop trading firm. I have learnt many things during the 3 months I am there, but the biggest lesson came on the last day. I always thought that I was doing well but I guess you never really know...

To start off, my most painful lesson will be to READ ALL CONTRACTS WITH EXTREME CAUTION from now on. Apparently, there is a clause in my contract that states that if I do not serve notice, I will be liable to pay the company. I take full blame for this carelessness and has only myself to fault. The fact is, I do not have time to serve notice as my university is starting but the company is adamant about this and demands payment. Moreover, a colleague also informed me that she was not paid even when she served notice. This is actually a violation of civil law, since we are under contract for service, and not of service, and my ex-colleague actually has legal recourse. For me, I have none and might just have to pay my way out. If I knew about this earlier, I would have given notice in July and serve my notice period, after which take legal actions against the company as THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SERVING NOTICE AND NOT GETTING PAID, as what many of my ex colleagues were said to have been through even if it is in the contract, since it might fall under UCTA. Well, I always believed in loyalty between company and their staff, but now I know nothing is real, and I will only consider my own personal interests from now on.

The second most painful lesson is that I was told I had bad performance while there? To be honest,  I am puzzled. I always thought my performance was average to good, but the operations executive completely shattered my ego and confidence. These are some of the things she brought up:
  1. I am careless
  2. I am doing rogue trading on mock trading
  3. I do not think before I speak
  4. I give bad attitude to one of the director there
  5. I am just average
I did not know how to respond to all these allegations to be honest. After cooling down (after our meeting), I went back home to think through seriously about what I could have done better. Being objective, I admit that:
  • I was late for 5 to 6 days out of the 3 months I was there
  • Took 2 days leave to attend to some personal matters
  • Discussed investing tips, current affairs and some entertainment news during office hours
  • Acting smart?
  • Forgot to clear some of my waste from the pantry
  • Researched on current affairs on the laptop and occasionally checking personal mail
Well, looking at what I have done, maybe that is why I was not offered a chance to continue with them on a flexible work scheme, something she said would have been possible had my performance been better. But well, its just her words against mine and there is nothing much I can do this time round. I lost, this time I really lost. I even lost control of myself and argued with her (something which on hindsight, I felt was extremely stupid), and was not able to display my usual wit when conversing with her, as I really did not see this whole exchange coming.

However, as with all things in life, with each mistake, comes chances for improvements. I am still convinced that the company is not too nice, but maybe its just business. I was too naive, too young, too inexperienced. Next time, I will be better, and the tables might have turned. This is my biggest takeaway:
  1. Always be early rather than late (I have a problem with lateness since my early school days and it has to stop)
  2. Keep my cool and maintain my wit
  3. Be extremely careful and doubly socially aware
  4. Stick to the tasks at hand, though I seriously doubt that looking at the computer screen and just watching market price moves up and down will do much in terms of re-evaluating risk and potential
  5. Put in 110% effort in whatever I do (my passion for the company started to wane after 1 month as I realised the learning curve becomes horizontal)
I will end off this post with 2 quotes, 1 from Godfathers and the other from Bill Rancic:
"Its nothing personal, its just business"
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"

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