Yat’s Hong Kong Adventure: Experiences to Embrace Working Internationally - Challenge Yourself


Yat’s Hong Kong Adventure: Experiences to Embrace Working Internationally - Challenge Yourself

By: yatli
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In 2010, Yat travelled half way around the world to work for the Peninsula Hong Kong for five months. In this 3-part series, Yat reflects on his co-op experience adapting to a new culture and work environment and shares his advice on overcoming cultural differences for a successful international work placement.

To make the most out of your work experiences, always think of ways to challenge yourself.

A work-term without challenge is a work-term that you could have done without. You will never live up to the potential or rise to the occasion with being comfortable and safe. The resistance that is within you to juggle multiple deadlines will never see light if you stay within your comfort zone.

That was what I did for the good first half of my internship in Hong Kong. I thought that by staying safe and not taking risks, I would be in great shape comes the end of the internship. Was I ever wrong! By staying static, I didn't grow. Like I mentioned in my previous articles about adapting to different cultures, local norms and environment, I didn't open up myself to accepting the culture nor did I expose myself to new opportunities. The end result was careless mistakes on simple tasks.

I didn't start to challenge myself at work until I was consumed by the cultural and work differences. There was a time when I couldn't see myself overcoming the mistakes I made and that my departure would actually be more beneficial to the department. Again, I was wrong! My colleagues reminded me that nothing comes easy and trials will follow you wherever you go. My supervisor put it blunt but ever so impactful, "Sh!t happens. Move forward and don't make the same mistakes."

Experiences to Embrace Working Internationally

My supervisors' blunt words of advice and collegial support gave me a clean slate. I would no longer be working and thinking of the vast cultural differences and allowing these differences to hinder my potential. I began to look for new challenges and started to worry less about the unfamiliar territory that I was in. I accepted the fact that my adventure would only be worthwhile if I challenge myself. So I did. I started to prioritize my work and managed tasks more efficiently. I started to engage conversation with cross-departments to understand more about the structure of the hotel. I immersed myself in new projects and tasks. I was even given the opportunity to work on a hotel campaign that was promoted to over 800 staff within the hotel. It was encouraging to see the work I put in was being appreciated and enjoyed by the staff.

There were days where I had to deal with multiple tasks and ongoing projects. At times, I was running around doing errands more than what I felt was being productive. It wasn't easy, but it was because of these experiences I learned new skills, and it gave me an opportunity to engage with the work that I otherwise would not have had if I stayed static and comfortable.

Everyone has their own threshold of how much pressure they can handle. Some thrive in high-pressure situations while some may be unnerved by them. Either way, it does not matter if the progress is slow as long as you reach your goal. So my friends, go out and explore the world and take risks. Push yourself to the limit and have fun doing it!

Yat worked in Hong Kong from July 2010 - January 2011 (2 co-op semesters).  Yat also worked with SFU Career Services as a Co-op Multimedia Assistant and wrote a series of blog postings on career development: Just Like Bunko.  He convocated from SFU with a Communication Co-op Degree in October of 2011.  Yat can be found on twitter at @yatli

Posted on April 26, 2012