With plenty of me-time in-between jobs this time round, I reflected quite a bit:
I could never get used to this feeling of being a sojourner of sorts. Once I am finally comfortable with the people and the daily routine at work, my contract ends, leaving me with a bittersweet feeling. This time round, all is not lost. My next project is cross-organizational; I will be working with my ex-colleagues very closely. I am very grateful for this opportunity.
One recurring thought which I had while employed in my previous workplace was my willingness to accept a permanent position at said workplace if they ever offered me one. Though my bosses and my bosses' boss did brought up such a topic, they did note that I was unqualified because I lacked a Masters Degree, Without taking into account the admin staff, all employees had at least a Masters Degree and 40% of my colleagues/superiors had a PhD.
Competition for those permanent positions is rife though. PhD applicants have been applying for Masters-level positions. This is not a good sign.....
Side Interests/Personal Development
I enjoyed this short-term break from work. Besides reading up on books (see here and here), I have also completed the Health Insurance Module offered by the Singapore College of Insurance (see here).
Another of my medium-term goals is to complete the CFA. As I am a slow learner, I have not signed up for the level 1 examinations yet. Instead, I purchased the abbreviated Wiley Level 1 CFA books so that I can read to my heart's content before even attempting the examinations. The material on financial statement analysis has been an illuminating read. I am not sure whether is it because I got the abbreviated textbook, but there is not much material on REITs.
There goes yet another potential source of information regarding REITs investing. Other REIT-education alternatives which I am considering are as follows: (a) taking up the CMFAS Module 10, (b) read up on property books available from your major bookstores, (c) complete all the necessary exams to be a real estate agent, and (d) familiarize myself with JTC + other government websites. In times like this, I'm banging my head against the metaphorical wall out of frustration. I want to improve in my investing acumen but the information I need to improve with is either beyond my level or floating around piecemeal in cyberspace.
It is also during this period of time where I started this Unintelligent Nerd blog.
Personal finance-wise, I am doing alright. As planned, my emergency fund kicked in when my contract ended. The only drawback was that my warchest is a bit on the low side. After purchasing a counter on my watch list recently, I'm almost out of ammunition.
This is a tricky bit. On one hand, I would love to delay taking my Masters so that I can invest more in this uncertain financial climate. On the other hand, I can't be delaying too long to get a permanent job!
A PhD is out of the question. While some have advised me to hide in a PhD programme to weather the recession, I do not find this a good idea. First, I am a slow learner. I would very much prefer to build at least the most shallow of foundations for my PhD topic first before even applying for a PhD programme; I have not done so. In investing, this is called margin of safety. :D Next, my dividend income from my portfolio is meager. This is exacerbated by the proportion of REITs in my portfolio. Cash calls during PhD with only a stipend income? GG (good game)! Third, I am still straddling between my social science research career and another field. So, which field do I go into? If I choose the latter, I could be committing academic suicide because of my poor foundations.
Masters then. Yet another problem. A Coursework Masters or a Research Masters? In my original field or jump to another field? I would love to do a Research Masters (more esteemed by research-centric employers) in that other field. But I have to play it cautious.
A Research Masters in Social Science? I've thought of a highly niche subfield where there are only 2 Singaporean researchers in it. Wait a minute, there are now 4 researchers in this area. Guess blue oceans do not remain blue for long.
In the interim, my strategy is to take up 1-year academic programmes sequentially. I have just completed and graduated from one such programme earlier this year. I will be starting on another of such programme in a few weeks' time.
Just one year back, I have been