Hindsight is 2020 (#HI2020) is a ground up initiative founded and led by SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business Class of 2020 graduate Jessica Lee Yi Ling. In this series, she uncovers personal stories of resilience, courage and love amidst the crazy year that was 2020. Through the reflections and learnings shared in #HI2020, she hopes to empower internship and job seekers to improve their status quos and encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteers to pursue their passions in 2021.
By Jessica Lee, Alumna, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business
Chan Huang Suan is an avid gamer who happens to work in a gaming company. Sounds like a dream? But life was not always peaches and cream for him. Graduating into a pandemic seemed like the worst time to find a job, and it took Huang Suan several attempts before he found a job that aligns with his life goal. Read on to learn how the SMU School of Computing and Information Systems alumnus is chartering his own path as a publishing assistant at video game company Wargaming.
Here are three key takeaways from Huang Suan:
- You learn how to do good work by being honest with yourself.
- Do your research, it’s better to know than to assume.
- The decisions you make today will affect you tomorrow.
For starters, could you tell us about your job search experience?
I did not have a job planned after my internship, hence there was certainly a sense of urgency and desperation that pushed me to find a job. Newspaper headlines highlighted how unemployment rates have risen to its highest in a decade, how businesses were cutting costs and how the government were rolling out programmes to help businesses stay in operations. To keep up-to-date with the latest news and jobs availability, I monitored LinkedIn and MyCareersFuture (a government initiative to help locals find jobs) closely and applied for job opportunities as I worked towards my graduation in May.
What were your considerations when looking for your first job?
I looked for job opportunities at companies that I knew of and had some understanding on their business and industry. I wanted to be in an industry that I am personally interested and invested in. It was also important that the job requirements matched the skills that I possess.
At interviews, I talked to employers to match their expectations against the published job descriptions to ensure that our interests are aligned.
What was your first job experience like?
The company’s office was shut when I was hired. It was a new experience to work from home, and I had to take up the responsibility of seeking out colleagues to find out more about the company and its operations.
The lack of physical interaction meant that I had limited communication with my colleagues. To collaborate on work, I used instant messengers frequently to ping people whom I worked with. I felt that I missed opportunities to get to know my colleagues on a more personal level due to the absence of face-to-face interactions and meetings.
Working from home, I also found myself working far longer than the regular office hours. I would occasionally have lunch or dinner in my room, while working throughout the day as emails and meeting calls could happen any time. I realised that it was important to strike a balance and take breaks as productivity decreased towards the end of the day. I also started incorporating static workouts in my daily routine to ensure that I get a break from sedentary.
How did you come to the realisation that this job and/or company wasn’t for you?
As time passed, I realised that the job did not fit what I was looking for. I questioned the value of my work and decided to move on because I felt that the poor fit of the job’s requirements and my skillset was neither benefiting the team, nor was it helping me grow as a professional.
What did your family and friends say when you told them you were leaving your first job after graduation?
It was certainly a turbulent time for me, but my family and friends were very understanding of my decision. Many were concerned about my well-being and tried to understand my decision to leave the first job that I had gotten after graduation. They spent time talking to me and provided me with suggestions and advice on what I should do.
Some friends also provided links to other job opportunities.
Were you concerned about being called a job-hopper? Did you have other worries about being jobless when some of your peers have settled into their first jobs well?
To be honest, I was not so concerned about being branded a job-hopper. My interest was to find a job where I can learn and eventually excel at. It is only to my disadvantage if I am concerned with how people view me, and not be truthful to myself on pursuing what I want to achieve.
I had expected to worry about being jobless for the subsequent months after I left my job. I was also worried about lagging behind my peers, and that I would become financially dependent on my family.
I am thankful to have the support of my family and friends—my parents were extremely understanding of the career decision that I had made for myself.
Overall I am happy that I was able to confront my uncertainties about the job and made a decision despite the unfavourable conditions around it.
Congratulations on landing a new role at Wargaming soon after. Why do you think your new manager hired you?
I think my manager values me for my authenticity, and what I can contribute to the team. I was honest and forthright with my past working experiences and skills that I have obtained through my education.
It also helped that I could share my personal experiences on the company’s product, and the team was able to provide me with a clear explanation on how my position was important in delivering results for the team.
Are you enjoying your new job and company?
I’m having a great time with my current job and company. I feel that my work is appreciated, and the team members are constantly providing me valuable feedback on how I can enhance my work quality. I am learning a lot from the job, and have been given the opportunity to participate in a huge project for the company.
What is your goal in life? Would you say you have managed to get a step closer to achieving your goal by making this career switch?
My goal in my life is to remain curious and try to learn as much as I can, so that I can teach others what I have learnt. My ultimate happiness is to be able to share my experiences and make an impact on someone else’s life.
This job opportunity has definitely given me a platform to demonstrate my capabilities. In addition, it has also provided an environment where I can learn from people who possess a growth mindset and are continuously upgrading to improve themselves too!
Before we say goodbye, what is your advice for people in the midst of making important career decisions?
To fellow young adults who are facing similar circumstances, I suggest that you evaluate your options and consider the consequences. Always stay up-to-date on what’s available in the market and do your own research. Avoid making uninformed decisions that would be detrimental not only to you, but also to others around you.
Lastly, do not let others’ opinions rein over your life, because at the end of the day, you decide your own path and you are responsible for your own future.
This article has been adapted from LinkedIn for republishing on The SMU Blog with permission. Learn more about Hindsight is 2020 here.
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