By the time you read this letter, I could already be in my 40s (gasp!). But better to be in my 40s than not around (hopefully!), I guess.

Well, apart from an extra love handle here and there, wrinkly skin plus saggy eyes and all, I think I should still be pretty much the same.

10 years is a long time. You must have evolved from the cutest darlings I’ve known to exist, to the broody teens that I would come to be disengaged with, to the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed babes that can make heads turn.

Remember how we used to idle at home, spoofing American Idol? Yes, we did have lots of fun pretending to be demented contestants from dimwits and weirdos to wannabes and cry babies - whose out-of-whack personalities always left us ROFLMAO (rolling on floor laughing my (our) ass(es) off). We would also take turns playing Randy “Dawg” Jackson, Paula “Ditsy” Abdul and Simon “Meanie” Cowell, with the last being the most popular as I dished out countless stinging jibes that could make the man himself weep with shame. (“That was the best part - when you stopped singing.” “For you, I wish I were deaf, a thousand times over” “Clearly, you’ve lost your way - the abattoir is next door.”)

Well, little did you know that behind all the merry-making, I was subtly preparing you for your future - your working life, to be exact. That’s right. You’d no sooner uncover a precarious, dog-eat-dog world out there one that comes with extreme tests, with larger-than-life wackos and loonies auditioning alongside you. And you most certainly would not find your boss’s words to be half as amusing as mine/Simon’s.

But I say, have no fear, my dears! In spite of my running high risks of being retrenched (given that I would be competing with cheap but savvy fresh graduates like you), I shall share with you tips on how to survive your first interview and job.

Yes, I’ve always been a kind aunt. Kind of.

* Be prepared. Research should start at the job interview stage. Make a mental note of how the interviewer and those working there behave, what they wear and the kind of atmosphere the company has.

* Tap your network. Ask friends, and friends of friends in the same business or company that you will be joining what it is like to work there.

* Learn as much as you can. Read all manuals relating to the company's policies and procedures, and old and current files related to your job to understand how things are done.

* Be friendly. In the "real working world", few people have time for heart-to-heart chats with a newcomer. Be patient and take the initiative to break the ice. Do not be too friendly as you may be seen as aggressive or trying to curry favour. Keep your comments and criticisms to yourself until you know what is really going on in the office.

* Keep an open mind. Be receptive to new ideas, suggestions and criticisms. Do not take it personally if your harried boss or colleague is sometimes curt with you.

Be alert. Observe the office situation to understand how to fit in. Watch how your colleagues and bosses behave and how they interact and learn who to trust, who to avoid and who not to offend.

* Ask when in doubt. Never be shy to ask questions as it is necessary to know what and how to do your job. But think through the questions first, formulate them and then find the right time to ask. It will irritate your boss if you constantly ask mindless questions.

* Handling conflicts. Do not act impulsively if you are caught in a difficult situation, such as doing a job you do not like. No one likes a complainer, especially if you are new.

* Check tactfully with your colleagues, or your supervisor, as to how things were done before and seek their advice.

So, my dolls, take this as my gift a qualifying ticket to Hollywood, or Raffles Place rather - to you. May you successfully slay all the demons that come your way, just as you did in MapleStory. But should you encounter someone you can’t deal with, feel free to let me know. I will not hesitate to make him ROFLMAO (roll on (the) floor like a misshapen, accursed orge). For you, a thousand times over.

Love always,

Your kind aunt (kind of)