This story is part of our Jobbatical Stories series.
After a call with Phonejoy, Rishi packed up his bags in Singapore to live in Hong Kong for six months. Though he moved to gain career experience, he ended up experiencing much more, spending everyday on the rooftop with people from all over the world, and gaining lifelong friendships.
How did you first hear about Jobbatical?
Well, I had just finished my final bachelor thesis and I had to wait a long time before the results. As such, it only made sense to find a job or internship to pass my time and to earn some cash. I came across Jobbatical on Google search and I simply browsed through it.
The interface was really attractive and easy to use. I applied for 3 jobs in Malaysia, Germany and Hong Kong. While I got rejected from Malaysia and Germany, I made it through for Hong Kong. I had a Skype conversation with my future employer, and he seemed impressed by my motivation and diligence. He told me that my application was successful and to pack my bags to go to Hong Kong. It has been an amazing experience since then.
What was your role at Phonejoy, and what did your typical day look like?
I was a business development intern at Phonejoy. Although my studies were in accounting, I knew business development was what I wanted as it allowed me to make a big difference in the company.
I worked directly under the director of product. This allowed me to wear many hats and affect the business in many ways. At first, I was only handling part of the accounting responsibilities of the firm. Eventually, I was given the task of handling the entire customer support part of the business as well. It was difficult but I learnt many new things.
What did you do during your first week in Hong Kong?
During my first week in Hong Kong, I was just in constant amazement about everyday life. Given my tight finances and ridiculous rent prices, I lived in the poorest part of Hong Kong at Sham Shui Po in a small room. Apart from the usual unpacking and adapting to the weather, I simply walked around my area every night where there were many markets, selling products at extremely cheap prices.
Was this your first time living abroad? What did you learn from the experience?
Going to Hong Kong was my first time away from home. Although many people said Singapore and Hong Kong are similar, I disagree. It could not be more different. Hong Kong people have a way of doing things that still stumps me to this day. I don’t know how to explain it. You must experience it to know it.
What was your favorite thing about living in Hong Kong, and the most difficult?
My two favorite things were my friends and hiking.
Firstly, I met some great people in Hong Kong. The place where I stayed, which was dormitories for many exchange students and interns, had a rooftop. Thus, every night, you could see about 30 people from all over the world such as Germany, Finland, Ukraine, Russia, America and many others. It was such a great experience learning about their cultures and partying with them.
Next, although many people see only the densely populated buildings in Hong Kong, they forget to notice the countless number of hikes available. I tried to do about 1–2 hikes over the weekend. Each hike would take me an average of 4–6 hours. It was an extremely fulfilling experience.
The most difficult thing about Hong Kong was the size of my room. It was extremely small. But, I knew I had to overcome this issue. Eventually, I began to see it as a challenge and well, I made it 6 months in a 3.5 sqm room.
What’s an important lesson you took away from Hong Kong?
I have learnt the value of friendship in Hong Kong. I have made many new friends, who I know I will keep in touch with for a long time.
A group of young people from all over the world mixing together every night on the roof is something people can only dream about.
I am one of the lucky few who have experienced it.
What advice would you give to someone considering a jobbatical?
Just do it. You should not even consider the idea, you must move out of your comfort zone and pursue something new. I lived in Hong Kong for 6 months in a 3.5 sqm room, with no idea how to speak Cantonese (the language of communication). If I can do it, I am sure anyone can.
Finally, now that you have completed a jobbatical, are you planning to do another one?
I will definitely do another jobbatical from June onwards. As of now, I am studying for my Master’s, for which the exam is in June. Once the exam is completed, I only have my Master’s thesis to write next semester which I can do alongside another Jobbatical.
I had so much fun and such a great experience in my first jobbatical that I am already searching for my next jobbatical, although it is only March.
THANK YOU JOBBATICAL!!!