2 Opportunities For Learning After Graduating


I remember when I was back in university, the head lecturer of a business module told us the main objective of his classes is to learn how to learn. At that time, I thought most business classes were quite fluffy. So after hearing this, I wasn’t sure if the lecturer was being serious.

Throughout my education, I learnt many things but I never thought about the process of learning. I didn’t have to since most things were structured very nicely for students. I’d attend the classes, do the homework, and study for the exams. That’s how I learnt.

When I started work, I realised things are very different. If I don’t actively seek things to learn, there’s a chance I might not learn new things at all.

Importance of learning (fast)

I graduated with an accounting and finance degree and my first (and current) job is on marketing and community. Most, or maybe even all, of the things I learnt in the university are not quite directly applicable to my job. So I knew I have to pick up the relevant skills as I go along. I have to learn of my own accord.

I think it’s not only about learning, but also the speed of learning. Being able to learn fast is advantageous. The faster I’m able to learn something, the faster I’ll become good at it and the faster I can produce results. This is something I’m still working on.

Take my triathlon hobby as an (anti) example. I’m taking probably too long to learn how to prevent an injury. Over the last few years, I suffered from multiple injuries that have hindered my training progress and made me miss several races. Smarter athletes are quick to learn from their injuries and become good at recognising early symptoms and avoiding injuries. Staying injury-free allows them to keep up with their training and race better. Being able to learn fast helps them race fast.

Learning on the job

After graduating, I see two main opportunities for learning. The first is learning on the job.

As a junior, most of the things I’m working on are very new to me. Whenever I’m given a new assignment, I’m usually not very certain what to do immediately. That is actually very exciting because it means there’s a great potential to learn new things. I’d read up on the relevant topics, think of how I’d approach the project, execute my plans, ask for feedback and iterate. I like to think it is through working on such not-too-familiar projects that I’d learn the most and become better.

Having a mentor at work can be very beneficial for speeding up the learning process (and I’m grateful to have one). While it’s great to try things out myself, see how things turn out, and learn through the process, it might not be the most efficient way of learning. For example, I’m trying to improve my writing and my team lead has written countless blog posts before. It has been helpful to get his advice on my drafts and learn how to improve them.

Most of us will spend a huge percentage of our lives working. I believe it is where we’d learn most of the things we’d eventually know if we actively seek to learn on the job.

Learning outside work

The second opportunity is learning outside work — making the effort to learn during my free time.

I found that it’s best when I learn things that compliment what I do in my role. When the skill is required regularly in my role, I’m able to practice it frequently. It feels effective as I get to practice the skill while getting my work done. Furthermore, when I get better at the skill, I become better at my job. At the moment, I’m focusing on learning to write better but there are many other skills that are complimentary to my role as a marketer such as data analysis, user psychology and more.

I can also see the benefits of picking up a skill, which isn’t as required in my role right now but might be useful in the future. However, it might harder to find opportunities to practise on a regular basis. Without regular practice, I find it more challenging to master a skill quickly and I’d likely lose it over time.

Overall, I would lean towards learning and practising skills I can immediately apply in my role than those I might use in the future.

Lifelong learning

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” —Benjamin Franklin

While writing this post, I started to wonder about how I have been learning since I graduated from university. My hunch is that I have been trying to wing it and it is probably not great. I’m keen to explore more on that since there are many years of learning ahead!

What are your thoughts about learning? When and how do you usually learn? I’d love to hear from you.

Being A Junior


About 3 months ago, I joined the Marketing team at Buffer. I started working on more (traditional) marketing projects — traditional as the lines between Community and Marketing are quite blurry at Buffer. I have been managing our Medium publication, experimenting with a guest posting strategy and helping out with content distribution.

Despite being at Buffer for slightly more than a year, I recognise I’m very junior in this new role! In fact, I’m simply very junior! This is my first job out of university and my first proper job in my life.

Beginner’s mind

Being a junior can be quite advantageous. It helps me look at things with a beginner’s mind — because I am a beginner!

As I’m not very knowledgeable about marketing, almost everything that I come across in my work is new to me. Each time, I’m presented with a great learning opportunity. Having a desire to learn new things and understand them better, I have been asking quite a bit of questions regularly. (I’m so thankful that the team is so helpful!)

Asking good questions to the right people helps me learn faster. However, as helpful as my teammates are, their time is valuable and limited. So I tend to ask my best friend, Google, first, if possible. Thanks to the great internet and amazing people, there are many helpful resources and articles online. When I still don’t understand the topic after reading up on it, I’ll ask for help.

Apart from asking questions, it’s also important to store and act on the new knowledge. I know I’m quite forgetful so I usually write notes in my Evernote. I have a notebook called “Marketing” for marketing related notes and another called “Development” for more general knowledge such as feedback from my team lead and good phrases to use when communicating. Also, I found that if I could act on the new knowledge as soon as possible, I tend remember it better.

Looking through the beginner’s lens keeps me in the learning state. It is a way of thinking, which I feel shouldn’t change even when I become more experienced.

Asking for advice

Apart from asking questions, I often reach out to more experienced teammates for their advice on the things I’m working on. For example, when I first started working with our guest bloggers, I wasn’t sure what to look out for and I wasn’t confident about my judgements. So whenever I receive an outline or draft, I’d ask Kevan or Ash for their advice and thoughts.

Things become much easier with their help. However, it’s almost like they did the work (and thinking) for me. I don’t think I’d learn as much as if I attempted to assess the outline or draft myself first. When I reached out to them, I made it a practice to say something along the lines of “Here are my thoughts on this: … I’d love to hear what you think about this too!”. I don’t get it right all the time and neither am I a pro yet. But through the practices, I gained a better idea of the things to look out for and I feel (slightly) more confident about my judgements now.

In my recent 1-on-1, Kevan shared a 30-90 principle with me — asking for advice when the work is 30% done and again at 90%. At the 30% checkpoint, I should have done my research and written down my rough thoughts or plans. The check-in is for making sure I’m heading towards the right direction. If all feels good, I’ll continue working on it with the advice given. The second check-in is for refining the details and bringing it from 90% to 100%. That’s the ideal situation and there could be more check-ins in between. We have taken this approach with things such as my blog posts and my Quarter 4 Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

Bringing a different perspective

As a junior, it is easier to think that my opinions or suggestions are not that valuable. I think that might not be a great mentality to have. I like to think that every team member brings a different perspective to things since we all have rather different background and experiences from one another — a great benefit of diversity! So I might think of something others have not.

There might also be a chance that I have come across something the rest of the team has not — though, the reverse might be more likely. I recently started a practice to help me build up a handy repository of ideas and examples. I have been storing good articles, marketing examples and inspirations in an Evernote notebook called “Marketing Inspirations” and giving them an appropriate tag so I can easily find them in the future. The idea is that whenever we are discussing new projects, I’d be able to pull out a few relevant ideas or examples to share.

Having said that, I think it’s important to recognise that I do not have as much experience and context as them. They might have tried some things before and found that those didn’t quite work for us. A practice we have at Buffer is to be suggestive rather than instructive, which I found is a great way to share my thoughts. So I tend to say things like “I wonder if (suggestion) might work” or “Perhaps we could try (suggestion)?”. Sometimes, I’d add “You might have thoughts of this already!”.

Keep practising my craft

This probably doesn’t apply to juniors only but I think it is especially important for juniors. Practising is a great — or maybe only — way to improve our skills.

The frequency and consistency are crucial. I have been learning to code since about 4 years ago. I would usually code for only a few weeks, lose the habit and forget quite a lot of things by the time I want to code again. That’s why after 4 years, my coding knowledge is still rather basic. I wasn’t coding often or long enough.

On the other hand, my sister has been practicing her craft very regularly over the last 6 years. When she started, she was baking simple cupcakes. Now… well, I’ll let photos do the talking:


(The flowers on the cakes are all edible!)

Right now, writing feels like the best way to improve my marketing skills. I’m not very confident about my writing but I know writing more is the only way to get better and writing frequently will help me improve faster. (Fun fact: My team lead, Kevan Lee, used to write 2000 words minimum every day! I think few would dispute he is a great writer and marketer.)

Being a junior is a very rewarding experience and I’d love to hear your experiences as a junior! If you are a senior in your company/team, do you have any advice for me?

Photo credit: Jip van Kujik

I Write to Remember

Write to remember

Earlier this year, I set myself a goal to write weekly. Embarrassingly, after 38 weeks, I have written 7 posts.

When I was writing this post, I read some of my previous posts. It was a nice walk down memory lane. I was reminded of my 30-in30 day writing challenge, my first week in London for my internship with Kayako and the internship itself. I wrote about my experiences and the lessons I’ve learnt. I could feel I’ve grown quite a bit since then. Reading all those posts made me wish I had written more since then. But, any reasons I come up with about why I didn’t would likely be an excuse so I’ll skip that. For now, I’m just excited to write again.

I want to write to become better at writing and expressing myself, to document what I have learnt and to share the lessons with others. I want to write because the act of writing makes me sit down and think, because it helps me reflect and think better and because it helps me grow. I want to write so I can look back next time and see how much I’ve grown. Above all, I want to write so I can remember how I was thinking about things at various points in my life and career. I want to write so I won’t forget.

(And I wrote this to remind myself why I want to pick up writing again.)

Taking a break and catching up with friends

This weekend, some of my close friends came over to my place for a Chinese New Year gathering. Apart from the dinner on Friday night, they had also planned a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday. Being quite a workaholic, I told them that I had to catch up with my studies and work so I wouldn’t join them.

Thankfully, I eventually decided to join them and had an amazing time exploring Shakespeare’s birth town with them.

I was reminded of a post by Jason Zimdars of Basecamp and especially this sentence:

You won’t remember working a little later or catching up on Saturday because the people you love interrupted you but you’re certain to remember those little interactions.

I didn’t manage to catch up on the things I planned and I’ll have to work harder some other time to do so. However, I did catch up with friends whom I have known for 11 years (I’m only 23!) but not met for a while because we are all busy with our own lives.

As the quote suggests, I won’t remember having to work a little more because my friends “interrupted” me, but I’ll certainly remember this weekend I spent with them – talking till 5 in the morning, sleeping for a few hours and heading out for a day trip.

Thanks, guys!

My 7 brothers and I

Good Side To Things

my desk

Last Wednesday, I was working at my desk by the window when a group of teenage boys walked by and saw me by the window.

“Do you know how to fix the iPhone?”, one shouted at me.

Hearing that remark, I assumed that he was taunting me for being an Asian. (I might be wrong!) While I was a little annoyed, I decided to pretend that I couldn’t hear him through my headphones and continued working on my laptop.

Then, they became rowdier – knocking on my window, shouting at me and banging on my door. I continued to ignore them despite them being right in front of me. Eventually, they gave up, toppled my wheelie bin and walked away.

Was I irritated? You bet! Was it all that bad? Not quite!

Coincidentally, I had an assignment for one of my modules – Strategic Games due the following day and I turned this incident into the content of the essay!

I had to write about an interactive situation in the media or my everyday life which resembles a strategic game. I was struggling to think of one until this incident and it felt like a great example of brinksmanship!

I think I have to thank the boys now! 😉

Everything happens for a reason

I wanted to write this post because I feel that when something seemingly bad happens, it is seldom as bad as it seems and if we look hard enough, there’s likely a good side to it. Everything happens for a reason.

Also, I wanted to share that it doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of discrimination. I don’t fault the boys entirely because I believe I’m not perfect in this way generally too.

While I do not intentionally discriminate others, I believe I make unintentional (and possibly not so nice) associations of people due to my unconscious bias (Thanks, Natalie and Courtney, for the unconscious bias training!). And this incident and reflection are a great reminder for myself to tackle my unconscious bias. Again, another good outcome 😊

Good side to things

Personal Growth

I have been thinking about personal growth recently and I came to a conclusion that personal growth is about being able to make bigger decisions better. Bigger in the sense that these decisions have greater consequences or will affect more people.

For example, one of such decisions I have made is going to the UK to study. (“going” as I’m in Hawaii now ;)) It was a decision which had greater consequences for my life than, I believe, all the decisions I’ve made before. Furthermore, the decision wasn’t only about me, but also my family and my girlfriend.

Making that decision, experiencing the outcomes and learning from it helped me grow. I feel that if I were to make similar decisions now, I’ll be better at analysing the situation and deciding what to do than before.

So I believe that making bigger decisions and learning from them is a great way to grow as an individual.

personal growth

Live Smarter, Not Harder

“… We rush around in the daily grind of life and at the end of the day, falling in bed exhausted, waiting for weekends to come around. When they do, we spend our time racing the clock stressed about what we didn’t achieve or what’s next on our plate …”

I love this quote from Day 1 of the 7 Days of Calm of the meditation app, Calm. It resonates with me a lot.

Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend about productivity and I mentioned that my mood and energy level are factors affecting my productivity. I was reminded of this quote from the mindfulness program.

At Buffer, we aim to “Live smarter, not harder“.

You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour.

An extra hour of output might be great, but not if that extra hour reduces my productivity by more than an hour of output the next day (assuming it isn’t something that must be done then).

It feels like I have been trying to squeeze in that extra hour recently and it might not be a wise thing to do.

You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting.

I feel that being fully engaged in resting is as important as being fully engaged in an activity. It allows my mind to take a break and recover so that I can work as well as before or even better.

I schedule breaks into my day (lunch, dinner, calling my girlfriend, etc.), but I’m not sure if I have been fully engaged in resting during those times. I find myself trying to work while I have my dinner on most evenings or thinking about work over lunch. It doesn’t feel very healthy or great for my productivity.

You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding the capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy.

My gut feeling is that with the nature of my work being more creative and less straightforward, my output is not largely dependent on the number of hours I work (though, it is still a factor), but also dependent on my mood and energy level too. (How to manage our mood and energy level and whether we should let them affect our productivity could be a discussion for another time.)

I have been missing my meditation quite a bit recently and I just picked it up again, striving to become more mindful about how I spend my time. Instead of trying to work more hours, it might be better to focus on working more productive hours.



Good Things Take Time

good things take time

Today, I spent about 4 to 5 hours editing this photo.

club photo

It is not perfect but I’d say that it is not bad either 🙂

This “exercise” served as a gentle reminder to me that to produce quality work, I need to put in the time. Some things can be done in an hour or two, but some require much more time – days, months, and even years.

I just re-read Elon Musk’s biography and was reminded of how it took Elon Musk and his team 6 years to put a rocket into Earth orbit.

Good things take time.

Ironically, not a lot of time was taken to write this post. I would not consider this to be a good piece but that is not the point. The point was simply for me to write 🙂

Welcome 2016



In 2015, I set myself a goal to blog weekly.

I wrote 35 posts – 30 from my 30-in-30 writing challenge in March-April period. Since then, I have barely written on my blog.

Many people whom I follow write amazing blog posts and I have always strived to do the same. However, the thought of writing a big piece scares me so much that I often put it off.


For 2016, I set the same goal – to write weekly.

However, I’m taking a different strategy. Inspired by Colin’s 2015 strategy, I’m going for small posts rather than big posts. And to make it even easier, I told myself that I need not publish every piece that I write.

This post is for the first week of 2016. 51 more weeks to go. Let’s see how I fare.

My Kayako Internship


This summer, I was fortunate to be offered an internship with the Growth team at Kayako, a customer service platform. I was really lucky because I could only work for about a month and they still accepted me (Thanks, Kumy and Jamie!).

Despite the short internship, I have learnt many valuable lessons and I would like to share some of them in this blog post. These lessons are mainly for my personal development and do not include more technical stuff such as things I’ve learnt about writing and community building.

Personal Development Lessons

1. Have side projects

Kumy, Growth Lead at Kayako, and I knew each other from Leancamp London 2014 and we have been following each other on Twitter. He knows that I’m interested in marketing. Upon discovering my side project, Be Nice, a weekly newsletter of customer support and experience articles, he realised that I’m interested in the field of customer service and support too.

At that time, his team was not even actively looking for interns as they just started the Growth team and they were unsure if interns could contribute to the team.

However, seeing that I might be a great fit for his team as I am interested in both marketing and customer service, he decided to give it a go and offered me an internship with his team.

I would probably not have gotten the internship without my side project. I realised that having a side project would really benefit me in finding an internship or job as the other party can learn more about me through my project.

2. Onboarding beforehand

As my internship was pretty short, neither the team nor I have much time to spare to onboard me to their working processes.

Fortunately, I had kind of onboarded myself to a large extent before the internship. I’ve read most of the books on their required reading list. I was already involved in Support Driven Chat, a Slack community for customer support pros. I’m familiar with most of the technological tools the team uses such as Slack, Trello, Google Docs and Google Hangouts.

When I joined the team, there was less onboarding required – left mainly their current projects and enterprise software such as HubSpot and Wiki. This allowed me to add value to the team almost immediately.

Several companies write about what they are doing on their blogs. That is a good avenue to gain insights about what the company is doing and how their internal processes are like. An example would be Buffer. They share very transparently about their company on their Open blog and list required readings on their job application pages.

3. Autonomy

Kayako gave me a huge degree of autonomy, despite me being only an intern. In fact, I didn’t feel like an intern at all because they treat me like a fellow full-time colleague. Working hours are quite flexible. Some people prefer to go to the office earlier and leave earlier while others do the opposite. The team is also flexible with people working from home or remotely once in a while.

I learnt that I am more driven when I have the freedom to decide what to do and how to do them. It’s hard to quantify how much more driven or productive I was during the internship. However, the team did mention that they are happy to have me again when I have the time. I will take that as a sign that I’ve added much value to the team 🙂

4. My working style

When I want to focus on a task, such as writing, I prefer to have a certain amount of undisturbed time (2 to 3 hours) by myself. I find that tiny distractions can easily break my train of thought.

This internship has reinforced the fact that I like to work this way. It is nice to be working in an office with the team than to be working alone remotely. However, that also means a higher chance of distraction or interruption from fellow teammates.

Hence, when I was writing, I would usually go to a quiet corner of the office, sit on a beanbag and plug in my ear piece for a few hours. Also, thanks to Slack, communications became slightly less disruptive. Instead of speaking to me directly and interrupting my flow, my teammates would leave me a message on Slack and I would check it when I take my breaks.

5. Give others time to work on my requests

I made this mistake several times during the internship. I asked my teammate about my request a few times within a short period of time, which made her pretty annoyed.

I failed to consider that my teammate might be working on something else at the moment and would work on my request afterwards. By bugging her, I could be interrupting her flow.

I think a better way of communicating a request would be to specify a timeframe so that the teammate knows when he/she has to get back to me and to get an acknowledgement from him/her that she received your request. Also, it would be nice to give it some time (depending on the urgency of the situation) before approaching the teammate again.

6. Communicate transparently with my team lead

In my last post, I mentioned the mismatch between how I thought I should behave as an intern and what my team expected of me.

In the end, this issue was resolved by having a one-on-one chat with my team lead (Kumy). My team lead checked in with me almost every week to ask if I’m learning enough and if there are more things I would like to try.

If I’m not wrong, he brought up the topic and told me not to worry that I should behave in a certain way because I’m an intern and that the team does not have any expectations of me to behave like an intern.

It seems better to clarify any doubts or issues I have with my team lead and teammates than to assume things in my mind, which could be wrong.

All in all, I’m really glad that I was given this opportunity as it has been very enriching experience. If you wish to go through a similar experience, then you are in luck! Kayako is looking for an Inbound Marketing Intern! (This is NOT a sponsored post haha.)