I was invited to give a talk to a group of Masters students yesterday, to talk about my career, my practice, how I started out, and how I ended up here. I talked about how I always dreamed of leaving Malaysia for something bigger and better – and how I used to hustle for freelance jobs, whilst working and studying my Masters full-time.
Then I talked about moving to Vietnam and living there for 8 years, teaching and studying full-time (on a self-funded PhD), and finally moving to Melbourne, finishing my PhD this year.
At the end of the presentation, someone commented: “You’re very passionate in what you do for the past 18 years. Which part of your career do you think impacted you the most?”
I thought about it, and said “Vietnam. Not the location – but the fact that I made an uncomfortable decision to grab an opportunity that was presented to me.”
When I handed in my resignation letter in Malaysia, the person receiving my letter told me I was making a huge career mistake – that there is nothing in Vietnam and there will be nothing for me in Malaysia when I return.
The fact that I ignored that comment and made a decision to take the risk (I’ve never visited Vietnam before, let alone lived in a foreign country) was the pivotal moment that defined the rest of my career.
I didn’t return to Malaysia and BECAUSE I worked in Vietnam – I ended up in Australia.
In the end I summed up the talk with – no matter what your circumstances – educational background, financial background, nationality etc. Don’t ever feel that whatever you want to achieve is impossible. You just gotta’ hustle, plan and figure out a way.
Speaking from personal experience – there is always a way. Be it the long way or the short way. THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY.