I made one of the biggest and most difficult decision recently- I quit my job, or rather, my journalist career, to go into education full time.
Since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to be a reporter. I was always eager to poke my nose into someone’s business and was ahead of everyone in the school grapevine. I also imagined myself to be Clark Kent, transforming into superman simply by taking off my glasses and gelling my hair all the way to the back.
My journey into journalism wasn’t smooth-sailing. I had to first work as a news assistant, and then eventually move to Taipei to become a reporter. When I was in the capital of Taiwan, my then-bureau chief quit two weeks after I joined and I was thrown into the deep end of the learning curve, having to learn to cover bonds, stocks, tech companies and macroeconomic news all at once, in traditional Chinese and with just two other colleagues. In a nutshell, life was gruelling.
Giving up what I had achieved in a decade wasn’t easy. Leaving my comfort zone was hard- I had very good bosses, great colleagues and the pay’s decent too. Quoting the most-played song by children under 12 in 2014, it was tough to “let it go.”
I made the plunge eventually.
Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis or a sudden realization that mortality is not that far away that makes one ponder about decisions. I’m turning 35- not that old, but not young either. Last year, two colleagues who were in their early 40s passed away from cancer and brain tumour and that led me to reflect on what I really wanted in life.
I made a complete change in my career.
From a financial journalist reporting on the valuation gap between A-shares and H-shares, I decided to start my own business in education, focusing on primary school children. I did it with my buddy part-time last year and it felt right. I wanted to earn some karma, and more importantly, I want to make a difference in someone’s life. In my former job, I could have fantastic stories analyzing trends of the world’s best-performing stocks, benefiting investors. Now, I could better the life of a child. That seemed more fulfilling.
Even better, I get to choose who I want to work with. I collaborated with my buddy Wallace whom I have known since my NS days. He’s reliable, so good in Science and Maths that he majors in engineering at Stanford and Imperial, so he totally complements my skills. Perfect fit. More importantly, he has the same passion for teaching. All our classes are filled with games so that students actually make an effort to pay attention and learn in class, which should be the key.
One of my first “projects” was this Primary 6 student who just wasn’t motivated to study. I brought him to a swanky restaurant with a sea view and told him why studying is crucial (not so much for PSLE, but to have a foundation so that you can communicate better with others and have better logic after one masters Maths and Science.) More importantly, I want him to know people care about him and he should work hard. When he responded by being more motivated, it seemed more satisfying than meeting a source for lunch.
While I am finding joy in my new career, I know I will definitely miss the adrenaline of reporting- chasing after central bank governors for the rate decisions, covering demonstrations around the world or breaking news about the latest iPhone. Those will be fond memories to look back on, and who knows, I may be back in reporting one day. For now, I feel the void in my life is slowly filled as I embark on this new journey post mid-life.