Jobbatical Stories: From Germany to Malaysia
How did your Jobbatical journey start?
In the middle of January I read an interview with Karoli on Facebook and I thought “awesome story! I have to check out her page!” and I was very surprised to find an online startup in Penang looking for a UX researcher, because I really did not think that there would be an online company in Penang. I thought they all must be in KL.
Since graduation I have been working as an Online Product Manager and in my former life I was a media designer. So I thought it could be a great fit. So I started exploring the company and was just overwhelmed and super impressed by their culture. Now I really wanted to be a part of that team. So I applied and I think 30 minutes later I already had a reply from Ching (Piktochart co-founder) encouraging me to apply and even asking me if I maybe would also like to work as a product manager as they are looking for one, they only did not have the time yet to announce it. So I guess we both felt it must be fate. After finishing some rounds of interviews they offered me to be part of their family and of course I was happy to join.
What is your current role at Piktochart, and what does your typical day look like?
I am the Prime Minister of Growth and I don’t have a typical day 😉 But this is actually what I love about the job. Everybody in the company tries to come up with ideas about how to grow Piktochart, and my team and I try to filter out the best ideas and execute those. This allows me to work with so many different wonderful people. Everybody at Piktochart is truly special ❤
Which countries have you lived in before and how is the culture there compared to where you are now?
I lived in Taipei, Taiwan for 4 months during an internship and for 3 years in Zurich, Switzerland for my first job after university. Living in Taiwan before made the decision for me much easier as I had been living in Asia before. I knew how the Asian culture would be different to the German culture.
The culture in Zurich, Switzerland is very different and it is also very different to Germany, although the countries are so close geographically. In Zurich I felt it was quite hard to find friends. Of course you had some people to hang out with. But not really close friends. I was lucky that I had very nice colleagues. But outside work it was hard. This is so different here in Penang. I found some girls in my first weeks who I consider to be some of my best friends now.
What is your favorite thing about living in Penang, and the most difficult?
My favorite thing about living in Penang is probably the weather. I hate winter. It is grey, it is depressing, it is cold, you don’t want to go outside… Here you have around 30 degrees everyday. Of course it can be quite hot, but I can handle the heat much better than cold weather. The most difficult thing in Penang probably are some of the culture differences. They show in many small things like for example Germans tend to be very punctual and in Asia time seems to be more fluid.
How do you think your international experiences have shaped you as a person?
As mentioned above, I lived in other countries before and I travel a lot. I think traveling is the best way of education. What I heard quite often from other people is that they think I am very open-minded and tolerant. And I think this comes from the international experiences. If it is religion, culture or other ways influencing the way you see the world. When you travel you learn so many other concepts of living that you have to wonder if your idea is the right one. And after a while you understand that you only have to find the one for you and at the same time let the others live the way they want to as long as it harms nobody.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone considering a jobbatical?
Do it. Nothing can happen. You can always come back. Even if it does not work out, you probably learn so much about you and that is always very valuable.