My Add/Drop period in the UK
Updated: Mar 4
I did update my new website for a while after setting it up. Because I experienced an Add/ Drop Period in the UK like a freshman in the university. Different from being a university student, it is not as short as two weeks, and I am not limited by fulfilling requirement of my major subjects. I worked various jobs according to my interests that occupied my schedule, once I was settled down with accommodation.
There are a lot of sharing on social media regarding working experience in the UK. Many Hongkongers who are willing to live in the UK are concerning job seeking an employment situations. It is difficult to borrow others' experiences because everybody has different backgrounds, education level and career paths. Technically, all adult visa applicants shall have at least six month of savings, not so many people would find they have enough money, especially when we are facing inflation. It would be more secure for people to have income, while it seems difficult to minimise expenses.
It is said that new immigrants are doomed to have blue collar work in the host country. However, we do not need to limit ourselves from any possibilities because of this saying. Fortunately, I do not need to take care of family members, and have more freedom in terms of time management. In addition, I worked various types of job in hong Kong, and I do not have much psychological burden from my education background, not really care about the matter of 'over qualification'. Since I seldom enjoy stability from work, it is usual for me to repeat the process of job-seeking: spotting job vacancy, preparing for CV, interview, waiting for interview result.
The main difference of job-seeking in the UK from Hong Kong is 'referees'. No matter you are applying for a voluntary post or paid-role, you need to fill-in information of referees. Since I always change my job, I do not have a high level of worries on 'bothering others'. I also have a certain extent of concern of my image of 'too jumpy' every time I need to ask one to be my referee. However, I am also glad that I have all these working experiences from different positions, it equipped me to be capable for a multi-tasking post especially in the industry of social services, it also proved I have learning ability. My ex-colleague in Hong Kong is right, 'it's the time to make good use of relationship'. I also realise my referees' trust on me. In the mainstream, I am said to be 'too jumpy', even though my referees do not know details of my work, they trust in my decision, I know what I prefer from each job too.
My first job in the UK is an exam invigilator in the university. Luckily, I had similar experiences in Hong Kong under the pandemic, I believe it helps me to get this job. Many of my colleagues are at their retired age, but they work like they have plenty of experiences. They are very unhappy with the IT-system in administration procedures, complained about it thorough the exam period. No matter which exam venue I go, it is a popular topic. It is very difficult to categorise working attitudes based on age group and heritage, because all of my colleague have their unique ways. In the very beginning, I mainly work in the venue for students with special education needs. The university offers a lot of adjustment, I also have the chance to see students' enjoyment in examination in one of the globally top ranked universities. I still remember their smiling face, and I wonder what would their school days be if they were born in Hong Kong.
One of the reason for me to come to Birmingham is the Commonwealth Games. Originally, I was planning to apply to be a volunteer, but I was too late. It is a good try to apply as a temporary staff as a part of the Games too. Therefore, I had chance to work as a steward and a catering assistant in this Summer. I could not complete the training as a steward because jobs are too far away and difficult to arrange for transportation for those on-job training opportunities. Furthermore, I coughed for one month that made it difficult to work outside. Although it was nice to interact with athletes and audiences, and happy to feel the atmosphere in large-scale sports events. Most importantly, this kind of role is on voluntary basis in Hong Kong, but it is a paid role in the UK.
I could not take advantage to watch any games as a steward, and ended up working inside the workforce canteen continuously for three weeks. I mainly arrange for meal deal and clean-up at the canteen, be the steward of free meals. I wanted to be a barista in Hong Kong, and thought this working experience might be helpful for me to find a related job, but it seems so helpful. Interestingly, there are a lot of insights and humorous conversations at the workplace with a colonial background, which could be content of a stand-up comedy show in the future. At the moment, all I could tell is, I did not have the chance to meet any of the Royal families members.
After the Games, coincidently, face-to-face appointments in hospitals resume gradually, that created a few Cantonese interpreter freelance job opportunities. When I worked in Hong Kong social service sector, I had experiences in working with ethnic minorities interpreters. While we became ethnic minorities in the UK, I have the privilege to swap my position into an interpreter in social service setting. This working opportunity offers me a chance to understand more about NHS systems and procedures, and accompany Chinese, Hongkongers to see doctors or even receive body check. I am not fully confident for it, because I could not understand each sentence completely, what I could do is to have more preparation, and ask for repeat or explanation in layman language, especially when there is medical terms.
I have also done various temporary jobs during this period. I also had the chance to work in an administrator role as a full-time temporary staff for two months. Some of the jobs are completely irrelevant from my career, some of the jobs are a bit related or I had learnt a bit about it before, and that is why I would like to give it a try. On the recruitment day of Commonwealth Games, I also considered to apply for cleaning and housekeeping job, but did not do so because of my physical health. Recently, I met a young lady who is also from Hong Kong. She worked for venue cleaning at the Commonwealth Games. When I saw her sharing her experiences and what local work cultures she learnt from the job, she was relaxed, carefree from the stigma of blue collar job and her 'overqualified' for the ob, I sincerely respect her. According to her experiences, she also met other Hongkongers with high education level worked as her colleague. She agreed to share it anonymously in this article.
Since I arrived the UK, I do not mind sharing job opportunities and related resources with Hongkongers I firstly met here. I did not have the idea of too many applicants for a casual work means a decrease in working opportunity of myself. I was reminded by Hongkongers here in the UK, and realises this concern would affect relationships between Hongkongers in the UK. However, I insist the value of mutual support, to share my experiences in job-seeking and work opportunities, when it is not out of my capability. What I learnt from playing baseball is, when I am at the batting zone, if I never swing the bat, I could never hit for a score. If I want to score, I need to do something first. It is my honour to live my belief and bring influence to others. I do not care about how it might affect my own income. My hopes in influencing others through proactive actions at job seeking is also one of the meaning of my Add/ Drop period and working for various jobs in the UK.
Lives are full of uncertainties when we are living abroad. We might get lost when facing uncertainties. In this situation, please do not forget what we have, apart from savings, the most practical one, we also have our reasons behind. It might be for the future of next generations, or our core values, and various unique belief, hopes and dreams. These are what we could rely on, and gain our strengthen back, when we are in difficulties. We shall over come.