Finding an Alternative Career During the Pandemic

Ray Lim explores the alternative jobs Singaporeans have taken after their old jobs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Tan engaging in her Safe Distancing Ambassador duties at East Spring Secondary School. Photo by Ray Lim.

 

BY
Ray Lim
Places Section Editor
Hype Issue #53

Published on
November 4, 2021

Since its introduction into the world in December 2019, the COVID-19 virus has grown into a worldwide pandemic like no other. Nearly two years later, economies around the world and the livelihoods of everyone are still being negatively affected by it.

In Singapore, restrictions and safety measures are constantly reevaluated by authorities based on the severity of the local COVID-19 cases. Measures such as Home Based Learning (HBL) and Work From Home (WFH) have affected many of us ever since it was first implemented last year during the circuit breaker.

Due to the economic downturn, many people were retrenched because companies couldn’t afford to keep all of their workers around.

Despite struggling to find employment in the midst of a global pandemic, many have been able to take on alternative jobs as food delivery riders and Safe Distancing Ambassadors (SDAs).

Becoming a Foodpanda delivery rider

Mr Tan Jun Jie, 21, took on the job of a Foodpanda delivery rider after losing his job at a part-time agency.

“This job, in my opinion, is actually very sustainable as it provides a lot of incentives, be it for new or existing riders. It is also sustainable in this day and age as people tend to opt for food delivery instead of actually going to the place to get food themselves,” says Mr Tan.

alternative-career-employment-COVID-19-economic-downturn-diversify-food-delivery-foodpanda

Mr Tan has worked as a Foodpanda delivery rider since April 2021. Photo by Ray Lim.

Mr Tan, who is currently pursuing a Diploma in Accounting and Finance at Temasek Polytechnic, says that he saw the demand for food delivery services during the pandemic and took on the job to diversify his portfolio.

This flexible schedule has allowed him to earn income on the side while also maintaining a balance between his academic and social life. Mr Tan, who prioritises financial stability and independence, has worked since his early teenage years.

“The main reason that I took on this job is because it provides me with extremely flexible working hours as I am still currently studying for my diploma. It allows me to not only work at  times which I’m comfortable with, but also have sufficient time to study for school,“ he says.

He has also learnt several things during his time as a Foodpanda rider. The first lesson he learnt was to never judge others so hastily. Second, he learnt not to give up in the face of hardships. Last but not least, he learnt to be kind to people since no one knows what they have been through.

He plans to carry on with his line of work even after the pandemic eases down as he believes that the demand for food delivery will only continue to rise, giving him the opportunity to earn some income.

Working as a Safe Distancing Ambassador

alternative-career-employment-COVID-19-economic-downturn-safe-distancing-ambassador

Ms Tan engaging in her Safe Distancing Ambassador duties at East Spring Secondary School. Photo by Ray Lim.

Singapore has taken a strong stance towards the pandemic as there has been a total of over 3,000 Safe Distancing Ambassadors (SDA) deployed. The job entails making rounds around different public areas to ensure that the public adheres to the safe management measures while encouraging them to be socially responsible during this period of time.

Ms Clarice Tan, 21, a fresh graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, is currently working as a SDA for Active SG.

“During these tough times, I was fired from my previous job [in the marketing industry] and was then introduced to my current job as a safe distancing ambassador,” she says.

Ms Tan, who is currently a full-time student in university, is earning her own allowance for all her expenses. Prior to the pandemic, she worked in the sales and marketing field for a digital marketing agency.

“I took on this job because it pays well and I felt a strong sense of responsibility to keep the society safe especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Tan shares.

The sense of responsibility she has for the nation’s safety, as well as her strong work ethic, have enabled her to be self-reliant and secure a steady job during the pandemic. Her job scope gave her the opportunity to meet with people from all walks of life and engage in small talk with her co-workers, all of whom have different backgrounds and stories to share.

“This is what I enjoy most about this job. I get to hear stories from the aunty who was retrenched from her job in the tourism industry or the uncle who used to manage one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls,” Ms Tan recalls.

Through her work experience, she has gained humility and learnt to appreciate her blessings while keeping fellow Singaporeans safe.

Starting a small Instagram Jewellery Business

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Kah Min creating a new design for her store. Photo courtesy by Teu Kah Min.

Teu Kah Min, 19, decided to start her own jewellery business on Instagram during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has made it difficult for teenagers like me to find a part-time job, so I decided to start selling my beaded jewellery because I saw other people selling handmade accessories. I thought it would be fun to try something like that too,” she says.

Her ingenuity and passion for handmade jewellery have enabled her to develop a following of nearly 300 in just a month. Her Instagram account (@onlychira) is filled with beautiful custom beaded jewellery, ranging from rings to necklaces, and everything in between.

Starting a small business online, such as selling baked goods or vintage clothing, seems to be the trend amongst young entrepreneurs these days. Many of these businesses have taken over our social media by storm, be it on Instagram or Tiktok.

Despite the argument that these businesses are considered small, the effort and determination put in by individuals such as Kah Min cannot be underestimated.

Kah Min stated that starting her small business has kept her productive and excited as it is a thrill to come up with new styles and designs. In addition, she has also made it a point to learn new skills and techniques by watching YouTube tutorial videos and communicating with other small business owners.

“This business model is not very sustainable as there are many small businesses like this, however I would definitely continue if I have a steady flow of business & customers [regardless of the COVID-19 situation],” Kah Min says.

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