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Jobseekers’ Diaries: After Covid-19 crushed my income as a Grab driver, I branched out into F&B

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, former financial adviser Marc Tan, 43, recounts the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on his work as a full-time private-hire car driver. After movement controls during the circuit breaker last year crippled his earnings, his daughter suggested that he capitalise on his flair for cooking and strike it out in the food-and-beverage sector.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: After Covid-19 crushed my income as a Grab driver, I branched out into F&B

The writer (pictured) encourages jobseekers to step out of their comfort zone and grab any opportunity that comes their way.

As jobs are a top concern for Singaporeans in the Covid-19 crisis, TODAY’s Voices section is publishing first-hand accounts from jobseekers in which they reflect on their experiences and what keeps them going.

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, former financial adviser Marc Tan, 43, recounts the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on his work as a full-time private-hire car driver. After movement controls during the circuit breaker last year crippled his earnings, his daughter suggested that he capitalise on his flair for cooking and strike it out in the food-and-beverage sector.

“Daddy, why don’t you become a chef?”

Those were my then six-year-old daughter Phoebe’s words that pushed me to pursue a career in the food-and-beverage (F&B) industry. 

Before making the switch, I worked as a financial adviser for more than eight years. I became jaded at having to hit yearly targets and wanted a change of pace.

So I quit my job in late 2019 and became a full-time private-hire car driver with ride-hailing firm Grab at the start of last year, something I had been doing part-time since 2016.

I was earning enough initially. Then Covid-19 hit our shores and I started ferrying fewer passengers.

To supplement my income, I took on ad-hoc courier jobs and occasionally worked till midnight.

It was arduous, but I pressed on believing that the situation would soon improve.

I was sorely mistaken.

Things hit rock-bottom when the circuit-breaker partial lockdown was announced in April last year. 

There were days I barely ferried a single passenger. Our savings were depleting quickly and I was anxious.

It then dawned on me that I should start looking for a full-time job with career progression. 

I had earned a specialist diploma in sports and exercise science because I wanted to impart sound knowledge about exercise regimes to those around me.

So, naturally, I applied for sports-related positions but did not receive any replies.

I became distraught as I thought my newly acquired diploma would open doors.

During this period, I spent a lot of time at home preparing meals for my family.

My specialties are braised pork, baked chicken wings, pumpkin rice, “prazza” (pizza toppings on a prata) and pork-rib burger.

It was then that Phoebe, who always marvelled at my cooking, suggested that I become a chef.

That encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and consider F&B-related jobs.

I confided in my family and a few friends, and they were supportive and asked me to follow my heart.

In March this year, a close friend referred me to the boss of PizzaExpress.

I was relieved when the company decided to give me a chance.

I started work in May.

At the same time, the firm put me through government agency Workforce Singapore’s professional conversion programme for food services executives, where I am taking up an F&B management course with SHRM College.

After the course ends in October, I will receive a diploma in food services management and have a discussion with my boss on the next phase of my career.

I am delighted to receive the training needed to make my career transition a smooth one. The support from my employer and colleagues, as well as my family’s encouragement, helped as well.

It has not been easy, but my job search opened my eyes to the help and opportunities available in the job market. 

I encourage jobseekers to step out of their comfort zone and grab any opportunity that comes their way.                                                                                                                          

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Marc Tan, 43, worked as a financial adviser for more than eight years before becoming a full-time private-hire car driver. The Covid-19 pandemic affected his income, so he took his daughter’s suggestion and embarked on a career in F&B. He is on a professional conversion programme for food services executives and is a management trainee at PizzaExpress.

If you are a jobseeker with an experience to share or know someone who wishes to contribute to this series, write to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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Jobseekers' Diaries career work food and beverage

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