Who Am I And Why Am I Writing This?
My name is Jessica. I am rather new to the workforce, having only worked for slightly over a year. The purpose of this article is to share with you my career journey thus far and to encourage and motivate you, regardless of whether you are just starting your first job as a fresh graduate or looking at a mid-career switch. I will also provide some insights for employers on how to make the workspace accessible for all.
That Nerve-Wrecking First Day
I remember that day clearly. I had just been offered a Finance Executive role with a Government Agency, located in Central Singapore. It was just a thirty-minute train ride, followed by a short walk to the office. I arrived at the office thirty minutes early. A kind and well-dressed young man met me at the reception area and took me up the lift to the Human Resource and Finance Department on the second level. The layout was great, with gantries for the handicapped as well as lift access to all levels of the building. I was brought to the Finance Department and introduced to all the staff on the team. Everyone was very friendly, and I felt welcomed. The interior of the office was great too, with carpeted floors, providing a safe and barrier-free environment for everyone.
Stepping Into The World Of Finance
I was tasked with helping the team with the processing of payments. I had to check the accuracy of the Approval of Requirement, Purchase Order, and Invoices before updating it accurately into the SAP system. The role was a four-month contract from December 2018 to March 2019, and I am thankful for a fruitful experience there.
Going For A Change Of Environment
After the fruitful experience of my previous job, I was feeling adventurous and decided to try something else. I was introduced to a retail role in a shopping mall. This was my first time trying retail and I was excited for what was to come.
I joined in October 2019. My job scope included opening and closing the outlet, maintaining cleanliness, attracting customers, promoting the products, recording sales, and handling cash as well as the Point-of-Sale system.
It was a rather long train ride to and from work, about one and a half hours, but looking on the bright side, I used the time to catch up on sleep. The environment was great at the start, with products arranged neatly and with ample walkways.
I was then promoted to Operational Supervisor in January 2020. My job scope remained largely unchanged – covering duty, preparing monthly payroll as well as preparing daily and monthly sales reports for audit purposes – with the addition of training new staff, and helping them to sign in and out daily for work. The expanded job scope was challenging at first as I had no experience training people. However, I was grateful for the opportunity to work on my interpersonal skills and self-confidence. This opportunity also helped improve my problem-solving skills as I had to customise my training methods as everyone learns differently.
As the demand for our products grew, products quickly filled the outlet, and the size of the walkway shrunk. I had to tread cautiously, exercising caution not to knock into and damage the products. With the increase in the number of products, my frustrations grew too as it was difficult to always be cautious when moving around.
There was an incident when I was stocking up on the pharmaceutical products as stock levels were running low. I carried too many boxes of face masks at one go, and a few boxes of face masks slipped from my grip and were damaged. I had to pay for the damaged goods, and after this incident, I learned that I have to stock up products slowly, so I do not damage the goods.
The other challenge was the crowd. The crowd was manageable during weekdays at the start. However, when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit Singapore in early 2020, the crowd at the outlet became a nightmare as we were selling pharmaceutical products such as masks, hand sanitisers and thermometers at attractive prices and this was attracting a huge number of customers.
It was also tough during mealtimes as the various food establishments were always crowded during lunch and dinner. To work around this issue, I would prepare lunch boxes for work. I would also have healthy snacks to munch on to stave off hunger. Other times, I would either have an early or late lunch. As for dinner, I would usually make a cup of hot Milo to keep me going until I got home for dinner.
Overall, the role was manageable, and I enjoyed good relationships with my bosses and colleagues. However, I decided to resign as I felt the role had become repetitive and was no longer able to fuel my hunger for continuous learning. It also contributed to a rapid deterioration of my medical condition, so I had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave and take a break while looking out for other job opportunities.
Landing That Much-Awaited Dream Job
I underwent a few interviews and was finally offered the role of Accounts/Marketing Executive with a music school that provides music lessons to children aged eighteen months to six years old. The school sends its teachers to different preschools to teach the children there.
The job is ideal for me because I am allowed to work from home or anywhere conducive. All I need is a working laptop, a strong internet connection, zero distractions, and a good cup of coffee and I am good to go.
The only times I have to be there in person are the weekly training sessions and the monthly team bonding sessions. As both events are held at locations near the train stations, this makes it very convenient for me.
In conclusion, I feel that when we are looking for a job, we must be aware of the layout of the working space and the job scope as to whether it is suitable for us. For prospective employers, we would appreciate it if we are allowed to share ideas on how to help us to do our roles well, be it redesigning our job scope or making the office space barrier-free.
Thank you for reading this article. By the way, I am physically disabled and visually impaired, and I hope my insights will help those in the same situation as me.
Special thanks to Jessica Teo from Make The Change for this article.