Have you ever thought about developing your career in Hong Kong? I was in your shoes not too long ago, looking and applying to many different placements in Canada and the US. My parents, who are from Hong Kong, suggested, “why not try Hong Kong?” You know what? That was a great suggestion! The best part of doing a co-op is that you have the luxury to “test” out a job for 4 months and walk away if you really hate it, take this same mentality to try out a totally different working environment and working style. Based on my co-op placement so far, which was recently extended to 1 year, I have a couple of suggestions about working in Hong Kong that might help prepare you if you are considering this option for your co-op.
At first, I had trouble adapting to the culture mainly because I didn’t know Cantonese very well. I thought I would embarrass myself if I asked simple questions, but it turns out that it wasn’t a barrier, rather it is a good way to break the ice. I started asking people where the best restaurants were, what are the best places to see, and I found that as long as you are respectful the people of Hong Kong are more than happy to guide you. I’m lucky to have met some amazing colleagues who share similar interests while working. Even after nine hours of working together, we still manage to not be sick of each other to go to events, dinner parties, and hang out together on weekends. I recommend treating your colleagues not just as a coworker, rather, take the first step and ask them to go for a drink, and believe me, you will learn a lot more than just things they will tell you at work.
It has always been a known fact that Hong Kong is very fast-paced in terms of working. To put this into perspective, expect to be assigned a task while you are already working 30, and it is expected that the task is completed by the next morning before your boss arrives. This might sound brutal, but once you get immersed in a project, you feel so attached to the project that you will be living and breathing it. I found that I was so passionate about what I was doing that not only does time fly, but you will learn to take ownership of your work(a very important soft skill to learn). I highly recommend experiencing this for yourself because the work you deliver will be much better than just doing it for the sake of getting it done. My suggestion is to not limit yourself to only find a job in one place, but rather to experience different cultures and working environments. Learn not only to do your job well but also to learn soft skills such as communication and leadership. Being in a totally new environment can push you to newer and higher limits, you will be surprised by how much more you can learn!