My path from a regular Singapore student, going into the army, moving on to university and then a permanent job has pretty much been uninteresting but I liked my life then in some sense. I didn’t have to pay rent. I had a job that pays me way above what most fresh Arts graduates get and I could travel 4 times a year yet still save a good amount. I basically didn’t have to worry much about money as long as I kept my job which I enjoyed doing and which also gives me good material to talk about when I meet new people. How many people you know are in the private industry doing broadcast censorship for cable TV?
I’ve never thought about my being here today might have something to do with what many inspirational books call The Law of Attraction. But sometimes, the coincidence on how things developed astounds me.
I disrupted from military service when I was 22 to further my education at NUS to major in Japanese Studies just so I could qualify for the Japanese Monbukagakusho scholarship to do an exchange program in Japan for a year, but during my first semester at school, I decided to major in English linguistics instead. Following graduation, while serving the remaining of my military service, I was searching for sub-editor jobs when my friend introduced a freelance censorship editing job to me. That was how I got into this line. It was this freedom as a freelancer that allowed me to visit my best friend, who was working as a freelancer in sound design, in Taiwan then just because he wanted to be there. And it was this fateful visit that I met his friend during the trip and somehow found out that she had also been wanting to do the CELTA. So I dropped her a message and that very same year, less than 6 months after meeting each other, we decided to take a trip to Bangkok to do the course together. This move pushed me further into my plans of taking the trip to Japan because if I didn’t come, taking the CELTA course wouldn’t have made much sense.
I flew to Japan to do a language course with the aim of getting a job here. 3 months into the course, I was preparing my resume and what not when something in my life changed and made me decide to leave Japan at the end of 6 months. But towards the end of the course, I decided against leaving and I was suddenly slapped with the reality that I have a mere 2 weeks left in my course. I was flustered but I also had the thought that I’ll just do what I can but if it turns out that I have to go home, I guess that’ll be that. It was then that I met a teacher at the school who helped me get my resume done up in a day and after sending multiple applications with no luck, she recommended me to an ALT dispatch company, Z.
Z very nicely granted me an interview but told me that because it was during the middle of the school year, they couldn’t hire me then unless someone quits. So I continued searching for other jobs in the meantime feeling like I was gonna pee in my pants as time ticked away but lo and behold! Fate has it that someone did quit the job a couple of weeks later and the company decided to hire me. It was crazy coincidence. I couldn’t have gone for the interview at a better time, because if I had gone earlier, the company might’ve forgotten about me and hired whomever went after I did.
6 months later, the contract ended and Z lost the city’s contract to company Y. All the ALTs under Z assigned to teach at the city basically went out of jobs although Z did say we could all fight for the few positions they have in Nagoya or go search for other companies. I went for the latter. Backtracking a little, before joining Z, the very same teacher who got me this job also got me an informal meeting with the head of the Board of Education at a different city who told me that their policy is to hire someone with at least 1 year’s experience as an ALT, and who also lives in the same city. I fulfilled neither criteria, so she told me that she would recommend me to the company that won their city’s contract. But by then, I already had another offer at company X after having gone for their interview. To me, it didn’t make sense to turn down one dispatch company’s offer to try for another but I didn’t say anything then although I had already made up my mind to join X.
As the date approached the new school year, I suddenly got a call from my teacher saying that the head and the chief of the Board of Education wanted to interview me. I was surprised but wasn’t expecting much since I didn’t fulfill any of their criteria. I went for the interview and I was told that I would be fighting for the place with another ALT who was going to have the interview on the same day. I then realised that they were considering hiring me even though I didn’t fulfill their criteria. I was excited but unsettled since I was competing with one more person for one place. The chance was literally 50-50. At the end of the interview, the head came to us and handed us each a piece of paper. I looked at it in disbelief and was told that the chief decided to hire the both of us. I got the job on the spot. So I turned down the offer at X, for obvious reasons.
I had the most fun teaching students and playing with them for that 1 year and I loved my job but I knew then, that I wasn’t going to be there for long because career-wise, the experience probably wouldn’t look too impressive on a resume. I decided, 2 years, and I’ve got to move on. I’ve heard so many stories about how much time it takes from application to interview to employment that I’ve decided to get myself ready earlier. What more, with my previous experience of almost peeing in my pants before I joined Z. Getting off work at 4pm everyday and not having much social life, I searched the net for jobs on an almost daily basis and literally sent out over a hundred applications with barely 5 even bothering to send me a mail to tell me I’ve been rejected. But since I’ve still got at least 9 months to go, I wasn’t too flustered.
As the summer holidays approached, I suddenly got a reply from company W wanting to interview me. I thought, ah, good chance to practice my interview skills. I didn’t mind that it was in Tokyo although coming all the way here for just one day would cost me $300. Yes, I spent $300 for the interview. I had my interview and was told I was competing for the position with a few other interviewees. So I returned to Singapore after that for summer vacation and a week later, I got an email from W asking for my expected salary. I was thrilled but worried that if I stated too high an amount, they would reject me because they explicitly stated that in the mail. I discussed with my sister and decided on an amount and all that remained was to pray and wait. A week later, W sent me a confirmation mail that they were going to hire me. I was over the moon and at the same time troubled because I had to quit in the middle of the school year, plus my teacher tried hard to get me this job. It was a difficult position but I knew I had to take this chance to get into the translation industry.
It’s been almost 2 years since I came and I sometimes wonder how I managed to get here, but I know that I’ve always wanted to be in this industry. Even though after some time I stopped thinking about it, I realised everything built up and made this happen.
Perhaps there really is such a thing as the law of attraction.