If there is one thing more terrifying than the fact I am leaving in Hong Kong in three weeks, it would have to be the word ‘career’. I’m not on my own either. Millennials are famously angsty when it comes to the world of work and, believe me, one way to prolong the inevitable final-year-of-university-soul-searching is to hop on a plane to Hong Kong and see what happens. Having said that, no matter how many beaches I find myself on, reality is due to hit soon. And so with that and my fellow CNETs in mind, I joined the team organising this year’s Careers Evenings.
The first event of the year was held back in November at the Chatteris office. Chatteris has been running since 1990 and since Hong Kong isn’t an easy place to let go of there are plenty of alumni still living and working in Hong Kong. We were very lucky that six of them were eager to come and talk to this year’s recruits and pass on some of their tips.
Two of our alumna had worked as Native English Teachers in the Hong Kong education system after leaving Chatteris and both now run their own companies; a Play Therapy service for children and an events and entertainment business operating some of Hong Kong’s notorious junk boats. The boys meanwhile came to represent shipping, finance and advertising and we were also joined by a recruitment expert who had plenty of advice on how to get noticed by employers. It was a great way to hear about the range of careers out there and get really tangible advice on how to get hired by using your Chatteris experience.
Setting our sights higher for the second round, we started organising a networking event to give CNETs aiming to stay in Hong Kong a leg up on the competition. Realising what a passionate bunch us Chatteris lot are, we wanted to focus in on how to transition the earnestness of our youth into a meaningful career. So we settled on our theme: turning your passion into a career. Maybe it was the painfully cool venue or the promise of mozzarella sticks but however we did it, we were very grateful to have five amazing guests to share their experiences of how to not just get hired, but to make a career out of what you love.
For CNETs interested in education, of which there are many, we heard how Karen Arkell has followed her passion for social justice - to Teach First and now as Director of Development of Teach For China. We also heard from Pol Fabrega, owner of social enterprise, Rooftop Republic, and Matt Rumple who has turned his passion for entertainment into a company with some of the best performers in Hong Kong. Those interested in StartUps, FinTech or Venture Capital (yup, that went over my head too) had plenty to learn from Brian Chan, who leads research at Oddup, a StartUp about StartUps, apparently. And, last but certainly not least, you can catch one of our favourite speakers and ‘the funniest balloon man in the world’, Andrew Smith, in his Ted Talk for yourself here.
There was plenty to think on as we munched those mozzarella sticks and listened to live jazz after the event. Hong Kong is a place that attracts entrepreneurs and people willing to work for their dreams. Its melting pot culture and status as Asia’s world city means people from all walks of life are part of your daily interactions here. Hearing different perspectives and expanding your horizons is a key part of the Chatteris experience and it was exciting for this to be translated into the professional realm for us. This year has given me not just my first full time job but a range of professional training (blog writing, event planning?!) that will stay with me long after Hong Kong. But more than that, it has given me a network of seventy friends, all equally riddled with debt and apparently unrealistic expectations, that will be there along the way.