Transition: Life working in BDRC Asia after sabbatical leave

By Seok Ching Wong

Focusing on life in NZ versus life back in SG

Sometimes when you are stretched and need a change, don’t you feel like taking a break?  Last year, I took a sabbatical leave from my market research role in Singapore to go on a very different adventure. I chose to step out of my comfort zone and signed up for a working holiday to New Zealand, a trip that is becoming more popular among young Asians. Not many companies will allow their employees to go on a sabbatical break, so I cannot express how fortunate and blessed I felt when my director supported and understood my decision to go abroad.

The Working Holiday Visa allowed me to reside in New Zealand for a maximum of 6 months where I could work and travel during my stay. Although I was having a “holiday” in New Zealand, life was much busier compared to Singapore. As time in New Zealand is limited, I tried to make every single day and hour worthwhile.

During my 5 months in New Zealand, I tried a variety of jobs which include working as a kiwi packer, a kitchen hand in a salmon farm, apple thinning and lastly a cherry sorter. This aligns with the findings from Media GPS Study 2017 where the top motivations for APAC travellers are looking for local experience and exploring something new. However, the excitement tends to fade when you have explored all the “new” things.  Even though I got to experience working in many different jobs which I would never have the chance to do back home, working in the horticulture sector gets extremely boring after some time because of its repetitive job scope.

From the same study, Millennials in APAC use their travel time as ‘thinking time’. In fact, 25% of the millennials in APAC indicated that they reflect on their careers while on vacation, 34% of them make use of this time to make plans for the future and 32% imagine living or working in another country. Interestingly, I reflected about my life, my career as well as my purpose in coming to New Zealand.

It took me a while on my return to readjust to the faster pace of life in Singapore. Although it is more hectic, life working in BDRC Asia allows me continuously to get exposed to several types of research and across different industries. The wide exposure allows me to gain knowledge and makes my working life more interesting. The break made me appreciate my job even more than I already did and I have developed a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment with what I am doing.  So, do you know what you want to do with your life?