What do I really think about going abroad and my life & career decisions and goals?

Recently, an undergrad student reached out to me with the following email (paraphrased for the purposes of this blog post), and I wanted to share my answers to their questions in case it could help any other students and early-in-careers who are wondering about the same things ☺️

Any recommendations you have for students who are about to graduate from their undergraduate degree?

So many… that I had to create this blog to share them all! It really depends what kind of recommendations you’re looking for, but I will emphasize these 3 things in general:

  1. Your net worth is your network. Take this time as an early-in-career to connect with as many people as you can in and outside of your fields of interest. Gain exposure and perspective and ask good questions because it makes you stand out as someone worth getting to know. As intimidating as it can be to network, you’d be surprised how willing other people (even senior executives) are to meet with you if you’re respectful and genuine with your outreach!
  2. Rejection is redirection. It’s easy to get demotivated in this crazy, competitive job market. Remember not to let rejection or ghosting deter you from finding your next opportunity. I still remember how devasted I was when I got rejected from a summer internship at ATB Financial… on the same day that I had an interview with Husky Energy, which eventually led me to gaining 3 years of work experience before I graduated university. Everything really does happen for a reason; you just need to stay strong and curious for long enough to get over the hump!
  3. The best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Spend your time, energy and money on your personal and professional growth and development. Be hungry and seek opportunities that challenge you to develop new skills and experiences outside of your comfort zone. Try anything and everything with a growth mindset and recognize that “failing” is totally OK because you’re still young and agile. Sometimes, it will feel like you’re falling behind other people in life or career… Remember that everyone has their own path and pace — focus more on yourself and on pursuing what feels true and right to you, even if the people around you question or doubt you!

What’s your perspective on whether going abroad could hinder career development (which is my worry)?

I had a similar concern about going abroad for my last semester and how it could hinder my career because I would be cutting my contract short with a company that I enjoyed working at. I also had great managers and leaders who were invested in me.

However, when I consulted with many senior leaders and mentors, they all told me that international experience would serve me in the long run… and they were right! Going abroad was one of the best experiences of my life and career and it was one of the things that made me stand out when I had my Microsoft interview. Please also read Is it wise to move to a different country for your career? 😊

Do you know people who were able to succeed despite not having extensive experience after graduating university?

TBH, you shouldn’t be expected to have a lot of experience upon graduation… you’re a new grad after all! No matter what level of experience you have, there are always opportunities to gain relevant experience through volunteering, extracurriculars, etc.

I truly believe that anyone can “succeed” without experience if they are willing to put in the work and embrace a growth mindset. For example, I became a Communications Manager at Microsoft despite not having any formal PR or Communications background or experience. I do believe that luck played a part in this, but I also put in a lot of time and effort in gaining exposure, preparing for the interview, building a career walking deck, and showing my hiring manager how hungry I was for the opportunity to join his team!

Are you satisfied with your choice in pursuing a career at Microsoft instead of staying in Singapore like you had originally intended? Do you still think about moving to Singapore?

Although it was a tough personal decision between staying in Singapore and joining Microsoft Canada, I don’t have any regrets so far! A lot of people told me that having Microsoft experience on my resume would be valuable and that’s been true so far… I also “kept the door open” in my conversations with the hiring managers in Singapore — they told me to reach out if I ever want to go back!

Yes, I still think about going back to Singapore… However, it’s tough since I have come to really value quality time with my family and I still miss them even when I’m only 1.5hr away in Seattle!

How do you feel about your role as a Communications Manager at Microsoft? Why did you decide to switch out of your Sales Operations Program Manager position?

So far, I am enjoying my role as a Comms Manager at Microsoft because I have a great team and manager who are very invested in my growth and development as an early-in-career. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest communicators out there. You can also read 1 Year Later: What do I even do as a Communications Manager?

Check out Microsoft invested in me before I even joined the company. This is my crazy story about fate and opportunity. to read about my crazy journey to Microsoft! You can also read Job Hunting During the Pandemic Part 1 and Part 2 to hear about my process a bit more. In a nutshell, I decided to switch out of my role as a SOPM because I wanted to follow my passion and energy around storytelling — this was advice I got from having over 100 coffee chats in my first year as a new grad at Microsoft!

What are your current career and life goals?

My current career and life goals are grounded around my personal philosophy of growing 1% everyday through finding inspiration to share with the world… I highly recommend taking the time to develop a personal philosophy to help guide you through some of the biggest decisions you will make in your life and career in the years to come.

Career wise, I’m excited to continue learning and growing towards becoming a senior leader at one of the coolest companies in the world one day. I’m always looking out for that next unique opportunity to stretch my skills and experiences.

Life wise, I’m actually challenging myself to take a step back from chasing the next big milestone, pause, and enjoy the little moments for a change. This means strengthening my mental health and preventing burnout so that I can fulfill my passions with my career blog/platform in a sustainable way.

Thanks for reading!

Please feel free to share this blog if you think it will help someone in your life! You’re welcome to submit your own job hunting and career questions here so that I can answer them in future blog/LinkedIn posts or TikToks.