Taking the road less travelled: Ashley Liao on choosing work over studies

July 3, 2019

Read to know what it means to pursue a career instead of university studies

I’m Ashley, but everyone calls me Ashe, and I’m currently the social media ops intern at NewCampus.

A graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, I’m one of the few diploma holders in this generation to pursue a career instead of university studies. An unusually bold and risky choice for someone as anxious as I am!

Never the studious type, I always preferred doing something meaningful. After my school internship attachment, I realized that I preferred working over studying. And once my university applications got rejected, I found myself another internship and immediately dove into developing my skills and knowledge. I began discovering the new (and confusing!) world of business and learnt how marketing departments typically function, expand and change.

Going down the road less travelled means that I tell a very different story to everyone during Chinese New Year gatherings. Even though I believe I speak very openly and excitedly about my work, my relatives have a tendency to doubt my passion and love for what I do. Despite my unconventional choice, my immediate family has been supportive. My younger siblings who took the school route are always appreciative of the passion I have towards my work. They are the voice of reassurance when I doubt my choices. My parents are glad to see me use my time productively, although once in a while they do express their concerns over my education. Common questions over the dinner table would often go along the lines of “are you sure you don’t want to study?” and “do you really like working that much?”. Answers have always been yes, and yes.

Experience is the best teacher

I enjoy learning through hands-on experiences. When you’re in the role of a marketer and take on the perspective of your audience — which can change a lot! — you’re challenged to think of new and creative methods to capture their attention. And sometimes, your audience can surprise you!

A different-advantage

I don’t feel like I’m at any disadvantage, just a different one. I continue learning through my experiences instead of textbooks. Applying concepts help me see results, in contrast, to simply learning theories at school. I love being able to analyse statistics of social media pages that reflect real-life opinions and interests of users that I’m catering to.

Learning from others

I’ve had the privilege to learn from many other people more knowledgeable than I am and found friendships with individuals from varying walks of life. These range from entrepreneurs to high powering businesswomen, and peers juggling full-time work and part-time degrees. I even got to meet an entrepreneur not much older than me during my second at working at NewCampus, who had already sold two startups!

Building my network

Everyone that I’ve worked with has been extremely encouraging in my journey, and continue to offer me tips and ways I can develop myself in my career. My network has grown, becoming a lot bigger than I had anticipated it to become, and I’m amazed to meet so many high-achievers with that down-to-earth quality we all value.

Soft skills, for the win!

More than just work, I’ve built a valuable network and picked up a lot of soft skills. I’m definitely more confident and outgoing when I speak to people, even those I’ve never met before, and it’s all thanks to my colleagues!

University is still in my periphery for the future because I would like to go back to Temasek Polytechnic to teach marketing. But for now, my career has only just begun, and I’m looking forward to what the working world looks like.