“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards,” philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said. The quote rings especially true as I look back on my university days and how it has paved the way for my career. At times, things might seem to happen randomly but at the end of the day, all the dots somehow connected. After much reflection, I’ve identified a couple of key moments which have shaped my career journey till today:
From journalism to advertising to partnerships
Having loved television and magazine from a young age, I entered Melbourne University thinking I would pursue a career in journalism. In fact, my first internship was with a major daily newspaper in Indonesia. I thoroughly enjoyed my one-month stint there, meeting individuals from all walks of life (including celebrities!), telling impactful stories and best of all, seeing my byline in print.
However, as I started my second year of university, I was itching to explore the world beyond journalism. I was curious what a career in advertising, public relations or marketing communication would entail. Fortunately for me, the Melbourne Model, a new curriculum emphasizing generalist undergraduate degrees, required its students to take breadth subjects – classes from faculties different from one’s. I decided to pursue a couple of marketing classes, which piqued my interest in advertising and helped me land my first work experience in the industry. Subsequently, it enabled me to secure a digital advertising job at my current company and as life would have it, my current role – a job which has taught me so much over the past one year and still keeps me excited every single morning.
What I’ve learnt here is that it’s perfectly fine to realize that your life’s work is not what you signed up for at university. Indeed, for the majority of us, a process of elimination is necessary to discover our true passion and interests.
Extracurricular activities: a crash course on tech industry in Hong Kong
I continued my master’s degree at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), at a time when “technology” and “startups” are amongst the top buzzwords on campus. There were many initiatives set up to encourage student technopreneurship, including competitions and evening workshop series. Despite a heavily-packed master’s degree, I was determined to make time to attend several of those evening classes, which introduced me to a whole new world – the rapidly changing tech industry. It was simply inspiring to see a plethora of idealistic undergraduate students working together to build and create things, hoping to make the world a better place.
My six-month journey in HKUST then inspired me to pursue a career in tech, which has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over and over again, I felt fortunate to have gone the extra mile to explore extracurricular activities beyond my core curriculum, and I always encourage my juniors to do the same too.
What I’ve learnt a few years after graduation
Don’t be afraid to explore new things at university! University is the best time to learn new things, pick up new skills, and meet interesting people.
Don’t get stuck in the ordinariness of everyday life. Instead, be curious, keep learning and strive to discover your life’s work.
Good luck and all the best!
Edited by Hadrian Pranjoto
All stock images are used under the CC0 license
A humanities graduate, Steven completed a business degree in Greater China before moving to Singapore to work as Account Strategist at Google. When he is not helping Indonesian advertisers to grow through innovative digital advertising solutions, he tries to learn programming, psychology and business Mandarin. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from Melbourne University and Master of Management from HKUST.
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