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Jobseekers’ Diaries: A travel industry veteran, I lost my mum and job in quick succession. Here’s how I start afresh

In this instalment of Jobseekers’ Diaries, Miss Jessie Yeo, 47, recounts how she was dealt a double blow amid the pandemic when her mother died and she lost her travel industry job shortly after. Keeping a positive mindset, Miss Yeo signed up for courses and worked with career coaches to upgrade her skills. She eventually found a new role in a different industry.

Jobseekers’ Diaries: A travel industry veteran, I lost my mum and job in quick succession. Here’s how I start afresh

Miss Jessie Yeo Lee Eng, 47, was made redundant in October 2020 after working in the travel industry for more than 20 years. Finding a job outside of the industry was tough for her, but she worked with career coaches and took up courses to stay relevant.

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, Miss Jessie Yeo, 47, recounts how she was dealt a double blow amid the pandemic when her mother died and she lost her travel industry job shortly after. Keeping a positive mindset, Miss Yeo signed up for courses and worked with career coaches to upgrade her skills. She eventually found a new role in a different industry.

I have worked in the travel industry for 26 years, starting with hotels and eventually moving to a leading digital travel company as a regional marketing manager.

During my 8½ years there, I was posted to Shanghai and Hong Kong. I also opened its first office in Taiwan before moving back to Singapore for other roles.

I spent half my time travelling and I enjoyed my job very much.

In August 2020, my mum (a widow who brought up her three kids single-handedly for the past 28 years) passed away due to kidney failure. Less than a month later, I was made redundant, at 45 years old.

My once busy life packed with business trips and shuttling in and out of the hospital visiting my mum suddenly became free.

I felt lost for a while, not knowing what to do with so much free time.

I feared that finding a job would be challenging because the industry I had been in my entire career was badly hit by Covid-19 and it would be difficult to switch industries due to my age.

Fortunately, the fear didn’t stay with me for too long. I told myself to keep an open mind to explore industries outside my comfort zone.

I signed up for a six-month SG United Skills business analytics course. The S$1,200 monthly allowance during the course was really helpful.

I also took up a Work-Study Certificate course with Ngee Ann Polytechnic. It covered topics such as digital marketing, social media strategy, and skills such as CV writing.

I worked with two career coaches. One was assigned to me by my previous company under its redundancy programme, and the other by Workforce Singapore.

They helped me to review my CV and prepare for interviews. Both coaches gave different advice, and I took tips from each of them to develop my own job-hunting strategies and interview answers.

I also took up activities which I had been wanting to do but didn’t have the time to. I used my SkillsFuture credits to sign up for a baking class.

I set goals to lose weight, taking up pilates, meditation, hiking, and watching my diet. I managed to shed 10kg.

I also volunteered as a mentor at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, helping students with their personal and career goals by sharing my own experiences and offering advice.

After 15 months, 90 job applications and almost 20 interviews, I finally landed a job outside of the travel industry in January 2022 — a six-month contract as a marketing manager in a human resources solutions firm.

I am lucky to have met an encouraging recruitment agent and a hiring manager who was willing to give me a chance despite my lack of experience.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past few months and hope to be able to secure a permanent position with the company.

But if I don’t, I will continue my job hunting — this time with more confidence and skills to offer.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Miss Jessie Yeo Lee Eng, 47, was made redundant in October 2020 after working in the travel industry for more than 20 years. Finding a job outside of the industry was tough for her, but she worked with career coaches and took up courses to stay relevant. She is now a field marketing manager in a company providing human resources solutions.

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 Jobs career career coach

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