Why I deserve a shot at a job I'm probably unqualified for
The passing of time or more accurately the quantifiable measure of time- a minute equates to 60 seconds is something that theoretically is a definite for all. Which is why up till today, 11th December 2019, close to a month since I’ve unofficially graduated from SMU, it still baffles me how fast the past 4.5 years have gone past me. A bit of a cliche.. ok not quite a bit but it does feel like yesterday that I was just a freshmen, filled with bouts of idealism, full of ambition and being excited to take on the world but first, an extremely embarrassing dance in front of my batch in the spirit of orientation of course.
Back then, I remembered that even before starting university, a good proportion of my peers from junior college seemed to have already knew what they were destined to do. Prospective doctors and lawyers emerged from this groups and I knew they were serious because this was when I found out about types of doctors or lawyers whose specializations I have never heard of before that day. Naturally, this lead me to the defining question of my entire university life.
If I’m being honest, this question has put me through a lot in this 4.5 years. It started off with the few sleepless nights from thinking about the answer to this question and the problem was that no matter how much or what I thought, it never felt like I was getting any nearer to an answer. To me, it felt necessary to get this answer as I believed that having this answer is the key to becoming great at whatever you choose to do and I do want to be great at something in my life. Only by knowing what you want can there be a concrete goal and when there is a concrete goal, efficient and productive steps can then be taken. I remembered feeling so frustrated for being stuck. It reached a point where I started getting pissed off for spending this much time on thinking and yet still going nowhere and that was when this realization hit me- so much time has been spent on thinking on something so abstract, existential and just pointless when the time could have been spent on doing. I realized that doing anything was a much better solution to this because even if I was doing something that I would eventually realize I disliked, at least I know now that I disliked that and can look towards other aspects. Moreover, even if you dislike it, doing does entail unforeseen benefits ( fun fact that no one asked for: this was how I motivated myself despite have a strong and genuine distaste towards studying in the library). It sounded like a good deal so I started doing.
Just Do It
Fortunately, at that point of time, a good friend of mine who bore the brunt of most of my pointless existential dwellings had started a corporate team bonding business. He knew of my realized stance on doing and was kind enough to offer me a content marketing opportunity even though content marketing was not a priority at the time. It felt scary knowing that I knew absolutely nothing about marketing at the time and it was a friend’s business but I guess it is a good thing that I was always more inclined towards what was possible instead of what could go wrong. So I accepted the opportunity, went to Carousell, bought an entry level camera, watched a lot of YouTube tutorials and started covering events for him. To this day, I still cringe a 100% when I watch those videos (Sorry Ian).
This learning experience made it clear which parts of the content were horrendous, what could be drastically improved upon with simple changes, how do you better tell this story. Improvements were slow at the start if I’m being honest, but gradually it started adding up and I started feeling increasingly proud of the improvement, video after video.
If someone were to ask me what was your turning point or defining point in your entire university life, this next part would be that.
All these prior content making experiences culminated into the ability to conceptualize and create that one minute video entry for the Red Bull “ Can You Make It 2018” competition. Winners of the local leg of this competition would be sent to a random European country and teams have to make it to Amsterdam within a week without phones or wallets. In retrospect, I have no concrete answer as to why I decided to join this competition. It sounded so absurd and ridiculous and once again, anything can happen. I remembered thinking, “ since anything can happen, there could be mad, exciting adventures and it technically has been achieved in previous runs… so.. why not”. That’s why my team joined and won the local leg of this competition and represented Singapore for this. Although we did not win the overall competition, I am still insanely proud that we were the second team to reach Amsterdam in 5 days. I chose this experience to be my defining point because it was this competition that allowed me to land an internship at Amazon Web Services.
2 days after I returned from Amsterdam, I found myself in a conference room of the AWS office talking to my soon to be boss of 6 months. After going through the routine “get to know you” interview questions, she asked me branding and marketing-related questions about the Red Bull competition. As I’m writing this, I realized that I’ve never really thanked my ex-boss for this but I was extremely grateful for those questions as it allowed me to express my genuine opinions about how I felt about the competition from a marketing and branding perspective and enabled her to gauge my capability. Without that framing, I might not have been able to accurately portray my capabilities at the time if I’m being honest. 2 weeks later, I submitted a 6 month leave of absence application form to SMU and began my internship with Amazon Web Services- an experience that was crucial in my development and one that is filled with fond memories and milestones.
That brings me to the present moment, 2 academic semesters later from that internship, freshly graduated, deep in the job hunting process, I’m actually sitting in a co-working space typing this out as an employment test.
"Write it out on LinkedIn. Post it. You have 2 hours. Go."
Those were the instructions and this is my response. I chose to share about my journey through SMU as I believe that the decisions that I’ve made throughout my journey genuinely reveal the kind of character I am and hence, the type of person you ( my prospective employer) will be grooming. At this exact point, I can be truthfully tell you that I still don’t have the answer to that question “ What do you want to do with your life” but for a long time now, I’ve stopped seeing it as a problem and instead have embraced it as a journey. A journey that I know must be filled with unknowns and variety because these have been the qualities present in my university journey that I know have made me grow into the person I am today.