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Jobseekers’ Diaries: The pandemic made my job search tougher, but I found my passion in F&B

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, Mr Rocky Ng, 28, recounts searching for work during the pandemic and turning to part-time jobs to earn an income. He later found himself in the kitchen of a cafe picking up culinary skills from the chefs there. Thus began his fledgling career in the food-and-beverage sector.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: The pandemic made my job search tougher, but I found my passion in F&B

Mr Rocky Ng went from being unsure of his career path to managing a team at a food chain. His longer-term goal is to start a cafe.

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, Mr Rocky Ng, 28, recounts searching for work during the pandemic and turning to part-time jobs to earn an income. He later found himself in the kitchen of a cafe picking up culinary skills from the chefs there. Thus began his fledgling career in the food-and-beverage sector.

I had a childhood dream of becoming a policeman. Today, my goal is to start a cafe in a decade.

It is a stark contrast, but the road to where I am hasn’t been linear.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduating from an accountancy course at the Institute of Technical Education. I experimented with jobs in engineering, sales and even became an auxiliary police officer.

Nothing excited me and I left my project engineer role in November 2019 because I did not enjoy a desk-bound job.

Looking for work was a challenge, partly owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I sent off almost 20 to 30 job applications over the next few months but did not get many replies. I turned to part-time logistics jobs and became a food-delivery rider to supplement my income.

The turning point came when a cafe gave me the opportunity to work as a kitchen assistant in September last year, though I did not have relevant food-and-beverage (F&B) experience.

It felt like a whole new world on my first day in the kitchen.

I did not know that there were so many types of knives and healthy cooking methods. Everything seemed foreign and I did not know where to begin.

But I was blessed that the chefs were ever ready to impart their skills and were patient with me.

Managing the workflow in the kitchen was also eye-opening. During busy periods when orders flew in, it was initially stressful to keep up.

I had to make sure that the orders were placed correctly, customised orders communicated properly, and orders delivered in a timely manner. Every day was a training ground and I learnt how to react to various situations quickly.

I gained immense experience over those few months and got the opportunity to cook in the cafe, which gave me much-needed confidence.

That, unexpectedly, led me to decide to pursue a career in the F&B industry.

With a clearer goal in mind, I did more online research and chanced on the Government’s career conversion programme for food services executives.

In March this year, I joined Nuodle, a chain of eateries offering halal Chinese food, as a management trainee and underwent training.

This allowed me to hone my skills in budgeting, organisational management and leadership.

It is a different setting from the cafe where I used to work, as I now handle front-of-house matters as well.

It has not been an easy journey, having to manage and bond a successful team made up of workers from diverse ages and backgrounds.

Even so, I bit the bullet and took it upon myself to deal with high-pressure situations that came my way.

While the pandemic has caused much anxiety in the F&B sector, it has not dampened my plans to start a cafe one day.

I see this opportunity as a springboard to gain valuable experience from having to adapt to constant changes, so as to make me stronger for the future.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Rocky Ng, 28, worked various jobs after graduating from the Institute of Technical Education, as he was unsure of his career direction and wanted to try his hand at different things. A short stint at a cafe ignited his passion for the F&B industry. He joined Nuodle, a chain of eateries offering halal Chinese food, in March 2021 under the Government’s career conversion programme.

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 work career Jobs food and beverage

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