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Dear students and friends,

On behalf of the career center, I am glad to pronounce the


success of our annual forum for the year 2006. This year, the
theme of our forum was ‘break and burn’. Break and burn
what? We aimed to break down the traditional conception of a
fixed relationship between your first degree and your future
career and the importance of first degree, and burn away your
worries by providing valuable reference on work in an area
unrelated to their first degree.

In the past, students often thought that their first degree was
very important, in that it determined their future career. In the
21st Century, however, more and more fresh graduate are
working in areas unrelated to their first degree, save for some
professions such as lawyers, doctors and accountants which
require professional qualification.

Surveys show that nearly 90% of fresh graduates have applied or


planned to apply for jobs that are unrelated to your degree
although the majority of students still believe that their first
degree is important or relevant to their future career.

As to whether students think that it is difficult to find a job that


is unrelated to their first degree, the result is that around 50% of
the students think that it is not difficult to find such a job and
have confidence in finding one, while the remaining 50% of the
students are neutral or of the view that it is not easy to find one
and are not that confident in finding one.

Similarly, approximately 50% of the students think that


employers are willing to employ a fresh graduate who did not
study the discipline related to the job while the remaining 50%
are neutral or of the contrary view.
In face of increasing competition and ever-changing market
condition, what do you think are the main concerns for fresh
graduates who may or may not embark on a career unrelated to
their first degree? Four common obstacles have been identified
as follows:

1. Bread or “Life”?
2. Social norms: Peer & family pressure
3. Passion Vs. Career
4. Lack of knowledge or expertise in the field

In this year forum, we invited past graduates and experienced


consultant to share with us their experience and to advise on
how to tackle these obstacles in their pursuit of success.
I am indebted to all our guest speakers- Breadianna, Fammy,
Shun and Miss Mo- and I also thank you all for supporting and
contributing to the great success of this year forum.

Irene Chan
Careers Centre Consultant

DETALIED SURVEY REPORT:

1. Did you apply or plan to apply for jobs that are unrelated to your
degree?
 Nearly 90% of fresh graduates have applied or planned to apply for
jobs that are unrelated to your degree
- Yes: 46%
- May be: 40%
- No: 14%

2. Do you think it’s very difficult to find a job that’s unrelated to


your degree?
 Around 50% of the students think that it is not difficult to find a job
unrelated to their first degree while the remaining 50% of the
students are neutral or of the view that it is not easy to find a job
that is unrelated to their first degree
- No: 50%
- Neutral: 25%
- Yes: 25%
3. Do you think employers are willing to employ a fresh graduate
who did not study the discipline related to the job?
 Approximately 50% of the students think that employers are
willing to employ a fresh graduate who did not study the discipline
related to the job while the remaining 50% are neutral or of the
contrary view
- No: 27.5%
- Neutral: 26.25%
- Yes: 46.25%

4. Do you think the first degree is important / relevant to one’s


future career?
 The majority of students still believe that their first degree is
important or relevant to their future career
- No: 29.1%
- Neutral: 35:45%
- Yes: 35.45%

5. Are you confident that you can find a job unrelated to your
degree?
 Around 50% of students have confidence in finding a job unrelated
to their first degree while the remaining 50% are not that
confidence or of a neutral view
- No: 23.75%
- Neutral: 27.5%
- Yes: 48.75%

6. What do you think are the main concerns for fresh graduates who
may or may not embark on a career unrelated to their first degree?

Top four obstacles:


1. Bread or “Life”?
2. Social norms: social status, peer and family pressure
3. Passion Vs. Career
4. Lack of knowledge or expertise in the field
“Bread” or “Life”?

Ms. Breadianna, also known as Breadie Queen, was our first


distinguished guest speaker. She graduated from our
university in 1995 and it only took her 10 years to become the
CEO of Dreamy Breadie. Before sharing with us her
wonderful insights about career and life, we even got to taste
some of her cakes. They were so delicious!

Our Breadie Queen started off by asking us the following


question: Should we choose a well-paid job that we have no
interest in or should we do something that we really enjoy?
This is certainly not an easy decision to make. She then
carried on with her talk about “Bread or Life”.

First, she introduced us about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy


of needs. Earnestly, she asked us not to be that
money-minded. We should not let money and all those
lower-order needs block our way. As a human being, we
need to satisfy some of the higher-order needs, e.g.
self-actualization and true happiness, in order to live a life.
She was very enthusiastic throughout her speech. Upon her
request, the attentive audiences shouted out loudly with her,
“I am born to live but not to eat”, so as to reinforce the central
theme of her speech that day.
Another question probed us, “Do you know what you want to
do?” She told us that every one of us should have known what
we wanted. Very often, we lack confidence in ourselves and
deny our wants. We should have faith in our abilities.

Lastly, she encouraged us to take a good grasp of our youth and


start dreaming. “Think Big!” she exclaimed. In order to be a
true dreamer, just by dreaming alone is not enough. We have to
act it out. Her example about Dr. Lee Lok Sze, Rebecca struck us.
Dr. Lee had been engaging in different types of occupations before
being a polar scientist. “As long as our goals are meaningful and
we have the guts to try out, we have already accomplished
something,” Breadianna ended her speech by asking us not to be
too mindful about what we could get in the end, “When you
follow your own course, there are struggles and sacrifices, but you
will not have to wait until you succeed to be happy. You are
happy for you have lived!” The audiences were very thankful to
Breadianna for giving us such a good reflection on our lives.

You are
born to LIVE,

not just to
EAT!
Family Pressure!

Our second guest speaker of the day was Fammy,


the current Chairlady of the Hong Kong Award for
Young People, a non-governmental organization.
She called herself Fammy because she loved her
family. We are not sure if that is just a joke, but it
was clear from her presentation that her family did
have a big influence on her.

To start off, she recalled the days when she was a


fresh graduate and her mom would scold her by
not meeting the family expectations. Those
expectations include mainly:

- The prestige that comes with a high income level


- The need to continue family business
- The expectation to carry on the family tradition
- Other expectations that stem from the Chinese culture

To show that this is a common phenomenon,


Fammy cited another example – Natalie, who
again, is a victim of family pressure. Although
her student card labelled her as a 2006 law
graduate, Natalie actually preferred to become a
jewelry designer where her interest and talent lie.
But instead of choosing for herself, her family has
made up her mind for her. She simply had no
choice.
To ease her worries, Fammy told Natalie a story about a
young man who wanted to become a musician, but was
pressured by his family to become an accountant. Who
was he? Elton John. Yes, the Elton John. There was an
uproar from the audience when Fammy said his name! It
seems that many people were surprised or filled with
disbelief by the fact that Elton John almost became an
accountant!

Further, to help Natalie gain family support, Fammy gave


her 5 big tips to follow, which are also useful advice for
fresh graduates who intend to pursue a career unrelated to
their first degree. They are:

1) To have a track record of making sound decisions for


yourself
(a) If you are a short-term enthusiast, erase this
impression from your parents.
(b) Build your resume by joining student
organizations, volunteer and part-time work.
(c) Take part in competitions to show off your talents.)
2) To have a clear plan
(a) Do research in the area of your interest.
(b) Carefully prepared list of courses and sound
financial projections.
(c) Purpose is to minimize doubts of parents and to
show that you have thought through problems.
3) To be determined
(a) Have faith & confidence.
(b) Stand firm when you are doubted.
(c) Always a key to success in job hunting.
4) To be flexible
(a) Be prepared to change course.
(b) Look out for reality concerns.
(c) Take a minor degree if possible
5) To try to be self-sufficient
(a) Remove impression as a “child”.
(b) Have more freedom and strength of your own.
(c) Accomplish more.
Even if you think that it’s too late to remedy your
track record or to make a clear plan, Fammy
advised the audience that we should all be ready to
step into society alone and be responsible for what
we choose. She also emphasized that there is no
need to worry about doing without family support,
because one could always look to the community
for help and encouragement.

In concluding her talk, Fammy clearly summarizes


the 3 essences for breaking through family
pressure:

• self-confidence
• a good plan
• realistic goals
Passion VS Career

The third guest speaker was Ah Shun, who


shared with us finding passion in our career.
She wore a red t-shirt on that day and all
audience could feel how passionate she was.

Ah Shun was a drama instructor teaching at


the Academy for Performing Arts (APA). She
was being a director, actor, and playwright at
the same time. We could say that ‘her life is
full of drama’. Even her friends questioned her
whether she would feel bored with drama.

Surprisingly, Ah Shun admitted that drama is her


life and she could not live without of drama. The
audience could not expect Ah Shun had once
studied dentistry and quitted it to study
performing arts at the APA. The audience could
feel that her life was dedicated to drama. Ah
shun then further shared the story of her friend,
Cheung Bo Wah, with us. The audience was
influenced by Ah Shun and convinced that passion
and career could co-exist.
Ah Shun pointed out that employers were looking
for passionate candidates. She quoted an example
of a college graduate, Rick Kryzinski,
demonstrating a person lacked passion might not
be able to sustain a job. Ah Shun held her fists
very tight and stared at all audience to emphasize
the importance of passion.

Finally, Ah Shun advised the audience to find a job


that meets their interests and to go for their
dreams. Ah Shun then asked the audience to
promise her not to give themselves any excuses. I
could feel that the audience was moved by Ah
Shun’s passion and inspired by her wonderful
sharing.
Lack of knowledge / expertise in the field

The last guest speaker invited by Ms. Irene Chan


was Miss Mo. She was the graduate of HKU in
Chemistry in 1997. Training manager of
McDonald’s was her job since graduation instead of
any jobs related to Chemistry. She was called
Expert Mo as she knows everything about the
Catering Industry.

Today the speech on how to find a job unrelated to


your first degree was delivered by her. Miss Mo
was invited as the guest speaker as she was a good
example who had a lack of knowledge in catering
at the time she graduated.

Just when Ms. Chan introduced Miss Mo, Miss Mo


was asked why she was still employed as a
management trainee in McDonald’s after
graduation despite having no knowledge in
catering. The tension in the Career Forum was
eased by Expert Mo’s sense-of-humor. She
answered by asking the audiences did they think
that she was recruited as a MT because of her
beauty. This made all audiences laughed and
then the truth was told by Expert Mo with her
professional tone that she was employed just
because she had all the qualities desired by
McDonald’s.
This generated another question that made all the
attendants of the Career Forum to think deeply.
Impatience for Expert Mo’s answer on the desirable
qualities that university graduates should have was
shown by all participants after a brief discussion
with their peers. Then all the common qualities
desired by employers in Hong Kong today was
listed especially transferable skills such as
communication skills, leadership skills, problem
solving skills, etc and personalities that suit the
company culture such as values teamwork, being
open, innovative and adaptive to changing
environment, etc.

After quoting the advices from two successful


people in Hong Kong, the participants of the
Career Forum was told by Expert Mo that two of
her colleagues were invited to give advices to
them. Then the audiences were once again
amused by the hilarious Miss Mo as they were told
by Miss Mo that although her two colleagues also
had an irrelevant degree to catering, their career
were not as successful as Expert Mo’s. The
suggestions and advices given by Miss Mo’s
colleagues were practical and useful such as join
graduates sharing session for more updated
information of the company and industry, do
detailed research before applying the job and
interview, participate in ECAs and find summer
internships to equip you with knowledge and
transferable skills, etc.
The speech delivered by Expert Mo was ended
with a memorable quote:

“Don’t let your voice of


self-diminishment haunts you! Don’t fear
about not being good enough! Express
yourself!”

The audiences, mostly final year students were


deeply impressed by Miss Mo’s speech and notes
were jotted by the participants during the delivery
of speech. Finally, a big round of applause was
given by the students as an appreciation to Miss
Mo’s lively performance.
Summary by Ms Irene Chan, CEPC Consultant

Due to the overwhelming response, Ms. Irene Chan agreed to


take some time to answer questions from the forum. The
first question was:

Is first degree important for one’s future career?

Irene’s answer to this is that it is important that you have a


degree, but the kind of degree is not so important. Be proud
of the degree you have received and believe it has prepared
you for successful work in any field. She told students not
to worry about whether or not your degree exactly matches
the description of the job that interests you, because you learn
about your job by being a part of things. For instance, Irene
learned everything she knows about business in CEPC, not in
school. “Either you learn or you’re gone.”

Further, she fully agreed with Breadianna that, coming out of


university, you are still fairly young, and that’s the best time
to try new things. Don’t limit yourself and don’t let people
limit you. Look at your skills, no matter what they are, and
try to see how they could apply to different types of jobs. If
your first few jobs are not your ideals, treat them as the
opportunities for you to get real experience, to build up your
profile and to explore what you really want. Even if you do
not get the best at the start of your career, you at least get
something out of it and that is better than an empty page in
your life.
Moving on to the second question:

What does university education give us?

Irene briefly reminded the audience of the valuable tips given


by Ms Mo on what employers are looking for from fresh
graduates. So if employers are not looking for what degree
you have, what, one may ask, does university education give
us? Are we producing qualities in our graduates that will
enable them to take on responsibility and solve problems that
we cannot foresee; or, are we just training knowledgeable
people who will become good technicians and analysts who
lack the capacity to lead or address broader concerns?

In Irene’s view, the whole object of education is, or should be,


to develop the mind. At university, you are learning how to
learn. University education is not going to give you a job.
All it does is to give you a set of attitudes and a set of ideas
about work, about how information is used. A degree is not
what makes you marketable. Employers won’t care what
degree you have if you can do the job. The bottom line is –
can you get the job done?
Lastly, Irene advised the students about the ‘Three Don’t’:

1. Don’t’ settle job for security:


Go for a situation that takes real advantage of your talents,
not just one that happens to be readily available. This
means you must enter the land of risk, look at different
options, perhaps wait a bit longer, and suffer some anxiety.
It’s worth the trouble.

2. Don’t take a job that under nourishes your spirit:


Look for a job where you feel the work is important, and
makes a difference to someone- the kind of job you can talk
about with pride when asked what you do. Long after you
have established yourself in the job market, it is your
spiritual bank account that will matter the most.

3. Don’t take a job for status alone:


Signing with a household name corporation or entering a
“respectable” profession may be nice to talk about to your
friends and family, but it doesn’t last if you chose that
career largely for reason of identity. Look a little bit closer.
Does the job fit who you are as a person? Are you
challenged, maybe even inspired, by what goes on there, or
is it just a place to hang your hat?

And that ends the 2006 Annual Careers Forum.

Please note: The above is a highlight of the 2006 Annual Careers


Forum and is not meant to cover every detail mentioned during the
talk. For a full coverage, students are encouraged to refer to the
powerpoint file which is stored on the CD-rom in this package.
The personal sharings below
are made by volunteers of
the Careers Center who
aided in the preparation of
the 2006 Annual Careers
Forum.

Vienne Luk
The career forum was successfully held on 10th May 2006.
Honestly, we did not expect the forum could be that successful.
Hard work really pays off. At first, it was really hard to
“thematize” the talk. We had interviewed various people about
their views on careers but it was difficult to link their stories
together. Luckily, after further brainstorming, we ended up with
our theme, to break and burn all those misconceptions about
careers.

The survey results are quite positive. Students nowadays are


prepared to take on new challenges. They are ready to engage in
jobs that are unrelated to their first degrees. In a way, it is the
trend these days. University education is not providing us with
any vocational training. We are just learning how to learn. It is
more important for us to try out new challenges and learn from
our own experience. Looking back in my three-year university
life, I have no regrets. I am now fully prepared for any obstacles
ahead.

By doing research on the 4 obstacles, I took the chance to reflect


on my own life. Making career choices is not easy, very often we
will be carried away by many different circumstances in life, e.g.
money, family pressure, and anything you name it. After
preparing for the career forum, I have learnt how to be more
focused on myself, to know what I really want. Things will not
always turn out the way we want it to, we should strike a
balance between our wants and the reality.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of my fellow group mates. I
enjoy working with them, especially the “painful”
brainstorming experience. We exchanged our own ideas,
rebutted others and built our own on top of the ideas other had.
It is a wonderful learning experience for me. Luckily, we did not
argue. Also, I really appreciate the help Career Centre offered
us. If you would like to seek career advice, go and have an
appointment with Ms. Irene Chan. She is very laid-back and it is
very comfortable talking to her. Another big thank you to
Professor Yeung as well, thanks for suggesting the topic. We do
not learn anything substantial, e.g. any particular career or any
potential business, however, we have got a chance to stop and
think about our lives. University is a place for us to get to know
more about ourselves. After stepping out of the university, we
will not have time to think. Finally, I get to talk to myself!

LAI Hiu Yeung, Ryanne


Introduction
As part of the team at this year’s Annual Careers Forum, my
tasks included making the powerpoint presentations, throwing
out “crazy” ideas, as well as contacting and interviewing guests.
I must thank my team members for bearing with me, and for
being fun and productive at the same time!
The Major Challenges
The biggest problem we faced during preparation was to decide
on how to present our materials. We wanted students to enjoy
the talk. After very many meeting sessions, and after crossing
out a dozen plans, we have came up with our current
presentation method which is interactive while not sacrificing
the “meat” of the talk.

The Most Memorable Moments


However, the fruitfulness of this talk does not lie in what the
audience sees – instead, it is what happens behind the scenes
that us, as volunteers, got the most out of. Let me recount the
two most memorable instances:

Interview with the CEO of the HK Award for Young People

Mr. Lai Pui Wing is the Chief Executive Officer of AYP Hong
Kong division. He amazed me by his passion of serving in this
NGO by constantly defining higher goals for himself. Among
his spare time, he would dream about how to break world
records, such as organizing the first ever canoeing competition
which starts in HK and ends in Cheung Shar, Mainland. It
became a reality in August 2000 upon the organization’s 40th
anniversary. Moreover, he shared valuable experiences with us
on what he looks for in a fresh graduate. He gave us an
example which I cannot forget – during a job interview, a fresh
grad suddenly fleshed out some posters made by herself about
HKAYP. Although her art degree has nothing to do with the
job, Mr. Lai was moved by her passion and gladly accepted her
as an employee.

Interview with Irene Chan

Secondly, the interview with Ms. Irene Chan from the Careers
Centre was especially unforgettable. At a point, she mentioned
how she wanted to help the poor children in rural China. I also
told her how I felt exactly the same when I went to Gansu in
north-west China three years ago, and about my plan of giving
up my career as a lawyer to pursue this ultimate goal of helping
poor children in China in the future. It was a rare occasion
where I really felt emotionally “connected” with someone on
this topic. The tears that filled her eyes also filled up mine.
On the other hand, when we asked for Irene’s views on
pursuing a career unrelated to one’s first degree, she did not
reply but asked us in return: “What do you think a university
should give its students?” After much discussion, we came to
an agreement: “A university is only successful if its students
know what they want to do in their lives after graduation.”
This statement reminds me of what 粱文道 once said (sorry it is
in Chinese):

放縱也是一種博雅教育

「古希臘晚期和羅馬帝國的時候就有 Liberal Education


的觀念。這種「原型博雅教育」在斯多葛派的影響下,
注意的不是學生「必須」獲取什麼,而是怎樣「解放」
學生。這裏所謂的「解放」,指的是把學生從凡俗的定
見之中解放出來,從一時一地的習尚之中解放出來,
從束縛著自己的常識之中解放出來。」
讓我更清
「我的出身,我在大學裏的生活方式,應該讓我更清
楚自己欠這個社會什麼。而這種反省的起點就是我離
楚自己欠這個社會什麼
開大學校門的那一刻,畢竟博雅教育的目的是培養有
一個自省能力的人。不是嗎?」

Indeed, this is what we lack in HK universities. Perhaps this is


why many fresh graduates are unable to identify their goals in
life. Perhaps those so-called university traditions or hall
cultures are not helpful (or even damaging) to a student’s
character-building.

The 17th anniversary of the June-Fourth Tiananmen Massacre is


around the corner. I wonder how many university students
still care about it?

Conclusion
I am in debt to my wonderful colleagues and the many people
whom I have interviewed for giving me this unforgettable
experience. I would especially want to thank Natalie for letting
me display her lovely jewelry designs on our powerpoint.
More importantly, I would need to thank my great buddie –
Bonnie Wong, who is a great team player and took up her duties
responsibly (she’s always the fastest worker with a lot to
contribute), despite the fact that she just had an operation in
hospital and had not fully recovered yet! Thank you.
Jacqueline Fong

I have gained a lot through organizing and participating in the


forum. My group mates and I encountered many obstacles
during our preparation work. At first, we spent a lot of time on
formulating the forum title. We had changed the forum title for
a few times. Our objective was to hold a forum that could relate
to matters that students were most concerned with. The most
direct method to know their worries was to talk to them. After
collecting their feedbacks, we set Break and Burn as our forum
title. Then, we started to find the things we need to break and
the ways to burn them.

Questionnaires were made to ask the respondents to rank their


top obstacles to their future career. Most of my group mates
were from the Faculty of Law. It was difficult to distribute the
questionnaires to students from the non-professional faculties in
the beginning. We then solved this problem by giving out the
questionnaires to students taking the course, Career Skills
Training. The respondent base is broadened and we could make
a better analysis. Besides friends, students taking the same
courses as us can be one of our respondents.

The second step was to discover the ways to solve the obstacles
students encountered in making their career choice. We have
done a lot of literature review, including Chinese and English
publications. The cases happened in foreign countries were
applicable to Hong Kong cases as well. They gave us a lot of
valuable and helpful information. We should value the findings
made by foreign countries in doing our research later.
Interview is another means to get the solutions to the obstacles.
It provides a chance for us to ask follow-up questions and to get
an answer that is directly related to our question. The CEPC
consultant, Irene Chan, was very helpful in answering our
queries. We got a lot of useful solutions and inspirations from
her. I know there are many students who have a misconception
that CEPC is just a place to provide job information. They do not
know there are consultants stationed in the CEPC. Through
organizing this forum, I can get to know more about the
valuable resources of the CEPC and share them with my friends
and classmates.

Before the surveys and interviews were conducted, I always


thought that first degree was very important and related to my
future career. I would pursue my career in the financial industry
and become a competent player in the field is my goal. I have
seldom considered choices other than the financial industry. To
my surprise, many respondents believed first degree was of
little important to their future careers. The interviewees told us
first degree was sometimes even unrelated to future career. They
shared with us that what the meaning of career is. I am greatly
inspired by the interviewees and I start to think about my career
and future again. In order to lead a happy life, I would go for
my dreams and consider a job that I have passion and interests
in it.

The forum was such a great success! I enjoy a lot throughout the
whole process of the forum. Not only do me benefit from
organizing the forum, participants gain a lot through attending
the forum.
WONG Tin Wai Bonnie
As the volunteer helper of “Break and Burn – Annual Career
Forum 2006”, I was responsible for gathering opinions from
final year science students of HKU on obstacles in finding a
career unrelated to their first degree by delivering
questionnaires to them. The feedback given by my peers was
that they were very excited about this coming career forum and
they were glad that Career Centre could provide them with
practical guidelines and advices on how to search for a job
irrelevant to the first degree. As a final year Chemistry with
Management student, I experienced the same kinds of
difficulties as my friends --- since it is not easy to find a job
related to science nowadays in Hong Kong, which is a city well
known as a financial centre stresses on making money through
business, how can I stand out from those who have knowledge
in jobs such as financial consultant, management trainee of a
logistics company, etc. directly related to their first degree?

Besides giving out questionnaires to my friends in the Faculty of


Science, I also interviewed two of the colleagues of my part-time
job in Form 5, who were the Human Resources Manager and the
First Assistant Manager of McDonald’s, Ms. Cindy Ma and Mr.
Kenny Sun respectively. Both of them gave practical and useful
suggestions for final year students which helped them well
prepare for pacing their road to their desired career. They also
told me that it was a good idea for HKU Career Centre to
organize such a career forum because when they are studying
their first degree, nobody gave them guidance on how to
prepare themselves before start searching for jobs. This kind of
forum undoubtedly was a useful aid to all final year students
like me to equip themselves with qualities desired by employers
before graduation, which in turn raised the chance of us being
recruited by companies in Hong Kong as soon as we graduated
from universities.
Through cooperation with other volunteers, which I learnt the
value of teamwork and the importance of active interaction with
teammates, “Break and Burn – Annual Career Forum 2006” was
run perfectly on May 10, 2006 afternoon. Around three hundred
final year students waited impatiently for the start of the forum
and then, during their active participation, anxiety shown on
their faces meant that they were very worried about not being
able to find their desired career after graduation. Luckily, all of
them left the Meng Wah Centre with satisfaction and relief on
their faces at the end of forum.

This showed that the effort of mine and others who participated
in preparing the forum was appreciated by the audiences. I was
delighted that the audiences and I gained a lot from the forum
and being a helper, I acquired a lot of transferable skills such as
communication skills, problem solving skills and organization
skills. I also realized that being open to others’ ideas and
innovative are very important to get a desirable job.

Last but not least, the opinions written by the students on the
evaluation sheet gave a solid evidence of the success of “Break
and Burn – Annual Career Forum 2006”. I hoped that HKU
Career Centre can organize this forum in the future to help
students who are now in their junior year to find their desired
lifelong career after graduation.

KUNG Shun Fong


In this increasingly competitive world, I found myself lost in the
maze of the job market. Which job should I choose? How should
I choose my career? Ideally, what job do I want to do?
Realistically, what job can I do? There are loads of questions
swirling in my mind and my greatest fear is that I will begin my
career at the wrong starting point which leads my astray.
Fortunately, I found the guiding light in this year’s annual
forum organized by the career center. I am enlightened by the
new definition of career: career is a lifelong series of
experiences, skills, learning, transitions, and identity changes. I
love the idea that career development is a self-directed
continuous learning but not formal training. In the past, I was
afraid that my career would be largely determined by my initial
choice of occupation. Now, I look at my career path as the sum
total of every choice I make on an ongoing basis. This helps
alleviate my fear and worries in that career choices are no longer
one big choice or a once-in-a-lifetime choice. Rather, I am
making career choices everyday in the form of continuous
learning decisions. I do have choices and there are ample
opportunities for those who are well equipped.

I also discovered the root of my quandary- I do not know


myself! How can I make my choice of career if I do not even
know what I need and what I want? I do have my dream and
now I believe that a person’s life dream is one’s driving force in
pursuit of lifelong learning.

Form a practical perspective, the annual forum has also given


me invaluable guidance on how to pursue my career in a
step-by-step process. Following the guest speaker’s advice, I
have now drawn up a plan and I would like to share it with all
of you:

1. Set a goal
2. Be determined to pursue to goal
3. Pursue the goal step by step: grasp every opportunity to
build up your profile and relevant experience
4. Be ready for new challenges
5. Excel at what I work and I can make a difference to the
world
Ten tips
on finding your
desired job

Attend Career Talks & Find summer internship


Job Fairs & Part-time jobs

Build an Impressive Go on searching until


Resume & Cover letter you find one

Consult Professionals & Have Confidence in


Alumni yourself

Do Detailed Research Interact with HR


of the company & the Professionals of the
industry company

Expand your social Join Graduates Sharing


network to raise your session
chance
“All our dreams can come true –
if we have the courage to pursue
them” – Walt Disney

“The future belongs to those who


believe in the beauty of their dreams."
---Eleanor Roosevelt

"Never give in--never, never, never,


never, in nothing great or small,
large or petty, never give in except
to convictions of honour and good
sense. Never yield to force; never
yield to the apparently
overwhelming might of the
enemy." ---Winston Churchill

“All you have to do is know


where you're going. The
answers will come to you of
their own accord.”
---Earl Nightingale
"I am not discouraged,
because every wrong
attempt discarded is
another step forward."
---Thomas Edison

“Think BIG! You are going


to be thinking anyway, so
think BIG!” --- Donald
Trump

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every


“People with goals succeed because they
opportunity; an optimist sees the
know where they're going.”---Earl
opportunity in every difficulty."
Nightingale
---Winston Churchill
Find out the following words in the box above and delete
them. Then you will find the ANSWER!

The first one has been done for you, VIP.


You try the rest!

action; bread; break; burn; cepc; dreams; expertise faith; family


support; first degree; free; goal; interests; learn; live; mind;
passion; research; risk; safe; social norms; talent; transferable
skills; vip

To see the answer, turn this page up-side-down (don’t cheat)!


Congratulations!
Have Strong
Join Graduates
Cannot proceed confidence in
Sharing Session
to next round of yourself &
& keep in touch
interview due to Persist to find
with Alumni: You have found
lack of a job:
Another chance to your desired
preparation: Move 1 step
throw your dice! career!
Move 2 steps forward
backward

Consult professionals in
CEPC to improve interview
skills: Move 1 step forward

Congratulations!
Invitation to Did detailed research of
interview! Another the company & industry:
chance to throw your Move 2 steps forward
dice!

Attend career talk & job fair:


Move 1 step forward

Participate in
ECAs & Volunteer
Services to acquire Did not tailor-make your
transferable skills: cover letter to impress
Move 2 steps employers with qualities they
forward desire: Move 3 steps backward

Start writing your


resume & cover letter:
move 1 step forward
BOOKS:

1. Laurence G. Boldt, How to Find the Work You Love

2. Douglas T. Hall, Careers In and Out of Organizations

3. Howard Figler, Liberal Education And Careers Today

4. Robert B. Maddux, Quality Interviewing (Third Edition)

5. Jon Warner, Conducting a Recruitment/Selection Interview

6. Jon Warner, Effective Performance at a


Recruitment/Selection Interview

WEBSITES:

7. http://www.changingcourse.com

8. http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html

9. http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/regsys/maslow.html

10. http://www.gettyimages.com

11. http://www.quotemountain.com/quotes/quotable_quotes/

12. http://www.achehtimes.com/qquotes/

13. http://www.transformationpages.co.za/quotations.htm
We would like to thank the following generous persons who
helped, contributed or supported our annual forum:

 Dr. Yeung Ka Ching


 Ms Irene Chan, Consultant at CEPC, HKU
 Miss Breadianna Luk
 Miss Fammy Lai
 Miss Shun Fong
 Miss Mo
 Mr.陳祖澤, CEO of KMB
 Mr. Lai Pui Wing, CEO of Hong Kong Award for Young
People
 Ms. Quince Chong (莊偉茵), Director Service Delivery
of Cathay Pacific Airways
 Ms. Cindy Ma, Human Resources Manager of
McDonald’s
 Mr. Kenny Sun, first assistant manager of McDonald’s
 Mr. Alex Cheung, APA drama tutor

This forum would not have been a success without your


unfailing guidance and support. Thank you!
Below is the summary / transcript of the recording:

Transcript of our Interview with Irene Chan, Consultant of CEPC

Background
Irene Chen has been working as a human resource manager till 2002. Her
job is not related to what she read in the university; she just grasped the
opportunity. She quitted the job because of the extremely long hours
continuously (usually 8:30am-11:00/12:00pm) which left her with no life
besides office life. Irene reflected: ‘I should control my life and my time’.
She cautioned: ‘Don’t let others control your time and your life- I don’t
want to spend my remaining working life in the office.’ After quitting the
job, Irene went to train teachers in the poor rural areas in China. At first
she wanted to be a teacher herself to teach the poor students but was
persuaded to be a trainer of the teacher. Eventually, she realized that there
are many ways to help people; so she went back to HKU career center as a
career consultant. Looking back at her career path, she said she had no
regrets and was very satisfied with her current career.

Relationship between first degree and future career


From her experience as a career consultant Irene noted that not every
student chooses a job that relates to his first degree. The reality is that not
every student gets into the discipline that is his first choice and the main
concern is that students do not know what they really want (especially
BA). It is sad that HK students often had no passion and no career goal.

From an employer’s perspective, Irene said that employers usually recruit


employees from different discipline save for certain professions such as
doctors, lawyers and accountants. Instead of looking at what kind of
degree a candidate has, employers are looking for certain qualities in
fresh graduates: (1) willingness to work hard (long working hours
nowadays); (2) Flexible and active; (3) Clear career goal. Irene pointed out
that critical thinking skills is what most fresh gradates lack; To stand out
from the crowd, show your critical thinking skills through logical and
fluent presentation during interviews.

Knowing yourself is equally important as knowing what the employers


want. Irene remarked that sometimes the problem is not the candidate but
the external environment- is it the right time and the right place?

What do you expect to learn in the university?


Taking a broader perspective, Irene considered that career is a continuous
life-long learning. At the university, you are learning how to learn. She
advised students to leave some space to learn about the world but not
only knowledge on the book. Students should also make use of the
resources (e.g. mentor, tutor) available in the university to explore life.
She regarded university as the support and guidance in students’
exploration about their future. Irene encouraged students to step outside
the classroom to explore what they really want: ‘When you are young,
take the chance to explore more so as to have a better knowledge of what
you really want. Ask yourself- why did you choose your first degree?’
Irene insisted that everyone should know what he wants- set a goal in
career and in life.

In respect of the dilemma between dream and reality, Irene said that: ‘If
you know what you want and the possible conflict between your dream
and the reality constraints, you still have a choice. You can make an
assessment and decide what you want to pursue your dream first or to
make a living first and then pursue your dream. Even if you choose a
career that is totally different from your dream, it does not mean that you
have given up your dream so long as you have a clear path to achieve the
goal step by step.’ Irene believed that passion and work are not mutually
exclusive and can be co-existent. Sometimes the problem is that people do
not really have a passion. On the one hand, if a person knows that his
hobbies can be turned into his career, that’s fine because he knows what
he wants. On the other hand, if a person is in doubt in choosing what to
do, it is easier to think about what you really want to do. If you are doing
what you like, you will enjoy it and excel at it.

Irene emphasized that the very first step is to know yourself well- what
do you want? Then, set a goal and follow the path to pursue your goal.
Never mind what is your first few jobs- at least you get an experience of
the real life in the workplace and a touch of the business world. Irene also
advised students not to take a second degree immediately after the first
degree as one ends up at the same starting point as fresh grad in the
business world; she said that students better wait till they know what you
want to pursue before taking another degree.

Irene believed that the important thing to do is to build up your profile


step by step: ‘Don’t let yourself stuck!!! It is waste of time not to acquire
actual experience.’ In the business world, attitude (are you willing to
work?), mentality (are you ready for the job?), and experience are what
matter. The circle of working network is very small, work hard and
people will know and appreciate your effort (i.e. good referral).

To be prepared for job interviews, Irene advised students to do a research


about the field of work and the company so as to be well acquainted with
the industry and job nature. Candidates should also perform a self-check
so as to ascertain whether the work suits you.

Irene gave several examples to illustrate that first degree is not a


constraint but one can be equally competitive without a degree in the
relevant field. One example is a student studying economics and finance
at the university but end up working in a different field as much depends
on the job nature. Many companies such as Cathay Pacific provided
training to new employees. In fact, most employers hiring fresh graduates
know that they lack actual experience (if they have the skill and
experience that is of course an advantage) and thus training will usually
be provided.
Recalling cases where students failed to find a job, Irene said that it is
mostly the result of a lack of self-check and ‘wrong matching’. But for
the student’s own personal problems (i.e. stubborn character, unrealistic
expectations), Irene noted that usually a fresh graduate can find a job
within three months.

In contrast, all the good examples concern students who know clearly
what he wants and pursue the goal step by step. She gave the following
practical advice:
(1) Set a goal
(2) Determined to pursue to goal
(3) Pursue the goal step by step: grasp every opportunity to build up
your profile and relevant experience
(4) Be ready for the challenge!!!
(5) Excel at what you work and you may make a difference to the
world (you may pursue your dreams through many different
ways)

Example 1: A student who wanted to set up his own business since a


child- started running the software business while studying in the
university- the business worth 3 million upon his graduation
Example 2: A boy who discovered that he wanted a job that is different
from his first degree; so he comes to the career center to find out what his
weakness is and how to equip himself to match the requirements of the
job he wants to do.

Irene’s last piece of advice is: ‘Don’t be too picky for your first job! If the
first few jobs are not your ideals, treat it as an opportunity to get real
experience, to build up your profile and to explore what you really want.
Even if you did not get the best at the start of your career, you at least get
something out of it and that is better than an empty page in your life.’
Remember- job picks you and you pick job. Look not only at the material
reward but also the job satisfaction so that at the end you can say that you
have no regrets.