Gen Y Speaks: I’ve wanted a racing career all my life, but Covid-19 has anchored my dream. It wasn’t easy to give it up
All the years of trying to earn my flying stripes haven’t prepared me for the brutal shock of the pandemic. It was a time of uncertainty and I had no other direction to take.
I felt bitter, like life had treated me unfairly.
But my family was always there to lift me up. My father, in particular, was by my side in my most fragile moments.
He told me not to give up on myself, that everything would always be fine and gave me the assurance that he would support me no matter what choice I made.
I was also aware that I was the eldest of three siblings and should be a role model for them. I knew I had to pick myself up and move on, either learning and developing new skills or pursuing a different career path.
So I started to become a freelance trainer in high schools, where I taught aviation-related subjects and ran STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workshops that gave students a taste of the aeronautical industry.
In the interim, I also took on a swab assistant role for a year from July 2020 with the Health Promotion Board, where I was deployed to migrant worker dormitories.
It turned out to be a surprisingly humbling experience. After interacting with migrant workers who had to leave their home countries to undertake manual labor in the sweltering heat, the experience gave me the perspective I needed – my situation wasn’t so bad afterwards everything.
I then heard about Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect center and decided to seek the help of a career coach to boost my confidence in my full-time job search.
Thanks to this, I had greater career clarity as I identified data analysis as my area of interest and also learned more about my transferable soft skills such as organization, attention to detail and strong math skills.
My career coach helped me narrow down the alternative career options that suited me, giving me advice on customizing my CV and going through series of mock interviews to better prepare me.
Eventually, I found an opportunity at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in July 2021 as an assistant systems engineer, where I am now, helping to improve and develop applications that manage the loyalty program of a major client of the airline company.
I’m grateful that they gave me a chance even though I didn’t have the necessary training. My investments in taking part-time courses in web development and the Python programming language over the past year have paid off.
In fact, TCS viewed my aviation background as an advantage. At my request, the company assigned me to work with their aerospace client, where I finally have something to offer the industry that I have come to love.
BE FLEXIBLE, OPEN-MINDED
For now, I put my dreams of flight on hold.
I am now taking classes on upcoming digital technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data. Having taken my first steps on the cutting edge of the IT industry, I believe there is more I can learn.
I’ve learned that an unexpected turn of events can disrupt our plans and take us out of our comfort zones, but every mistake or detour we may encounter are great life lessons.
When something doesn’t go to plan, we need to be flexible, keep an open mind, and adapt quickly to circumstances.
The constant support I received from my family and friends kept me going through the most difficult and darkest time of my life.
There are some things we can only learn in a storm. Some setbacks force us to take a path we would never have considered, but which may ultimately turn out to be better. I learned to be more grateful for what I have, instead of what I don’t have.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Theodon David Teo, 30, is an assistant systems engineer at Tata Consultancy Services