Career COVID-19 Diaries Voices

COVID-19 Diaries: How I’m Handling Being Jobless Right Now — Fck*

This article was originally written on March 23, 2020.

Life does a good job at hitting me hard at the most inconvenient times.

Three weeks ago, I left my six figure job at a San Francisco startup. It was a difficult choice I had been mulling over for a while, and I ultimately made the decision to leave so I could travel and explore Asia while I was in Singapore, having the time and opportunity. I gave a 3 weeks notice (to the shock of most people) and left the company.

The seriousness of Covid-19 escalated a couple days later and shit hit the fan fast — the situation rapidly changed and I was flabbergasted watching the world crumble. I watched it hit China, and then Singapore and other Southeast Asia countries first. Then it spread to parts of EU and US. The cases exploded within days and the death numbers began to climb. And I watched the S&P 500 wipe out all its gains since the end of 2018. The markets kept plummeting. So did my investments.

I found myself needing to pivot to financially survive the next year or so. First, I panicked for a bit, but realized I had prepared for times like this.

I had enough savings to tide me over until end of year and had 2 months of rent paid off in Singapore already. There was no way I would tap into my retirement funds, so I had until now and then to hit the ground running again. I also had my rent deposit to collect later on and my 1-year CD account matured in April 2020. I am thankful for past Emily for randomly hoarding money in a CD account and saving.

Fortunately, I had two advantages being in Singapore. Cost of living was cheaper compared to San Francisco, which meant I was paying roughly $600 USD less for rent expenses and if I cooked at home or ate at hawker fares, a meal could be $3-5 USD. 

1. I schedule 1:1 virtual coffee chats. I reach out to people I want to learn from, mostly through Facebook communities and networking webinars. 

When I first landed in Singapore, I had organized hiking meetups and met people from Vietnam, Philippines, China, UK, and South Korea. Many of them were also in the tech space — some were quite helpful and offered to make connections for me. Now that I’ve been social distancing, I am finding creative ways to meet industry professionals online. I’ve personally reached out to industry professionals on LinkedIn & FB communities in Singapore for virtual coffee chats. They’re normally 30 minutes of learning about each other’s industries and experiences. 

2. I ask for help from my network and let it be known that I’m looking for new opportunities.

I used to be uncomfortable asking for help; it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me and I hate feeling like I owe someone. In this situation though, I have realized I just need to be shameless, broadcast that I am job searching, and remember to pay it forward. That means finding 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degrees of connections to get my resume into the hands of HR — it has felt like I’m doing detective work on LinkedIn, but if you never try, it’s a definite no. So far, I’ve been able to do this three times by just reaching out and asking for an informal introduction.

As I sunk deeper into my anxiety, I found it best to relieve this tension in both my body and mind through working out and getting the blood blowing. Working out does wonders — truly.

Here are some great resources online to work out at home:

  • TABATHA by Allblanc TV — Watch hunky men motivate you to work out.
  • Blogilates — all time favorite female YouTuber with bootcamp sculpting lessons.
  • POPSUGAR Fitness — killer workouts that run in 20, 30, 45 minutes.
  • Chloe Ting — solid workouts, especially for those who want a bubble butt while in isolation.

4. I keep a strict routine so I don’t become a useless piece of sh*t.


8:30 AM-10:30 AM: I usually make breakfast (eggs with toast) and get ready for “work.”

10:30–3:00 PM: Work time! I usually park myself at a coffee shop or some place that won’t notice me camping there for hours after just buying one cup of coffee. Heh. At this time, I am trying to read, write, and apply to jobs in Singapore and San Francisco. In one good day, I could be applying to 15+ jobs.

3:00–5:00 PM: I usually head home or walk around the area to get some fresh air. Since Singapore public transportation is so convenient, I like to head somewhere that is scenic, quiet, and less touristy.

5:00–9:00 PM: This usually depends; I will sometimes meet my friends for dinner at a hawkers fare, where meals can be $4–6 SGD. Very cheap, sometimes cheaper than me buying groceries and cooking.

5. Join communities who are helping jobseekers during this time. A lot of them live on Slack channels or on FB communities. The folks in these groups will often times post jobs from their own companies, are more open to helping you, and can offer their own expertise.

I would recommend using LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and AngelList to job search. You can also reach out to agencies like Aquent, Vitamin T, Creative Circle, or Randstad to see if they are hiring contract/full-time roles.

Always the optimist, I find myself always able to crawl out of sticky predicaments, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult. Past Emily has made it difficult for current Emily, but this is now a challenge that will define the next 2–6 years of my life.

**Update: I received a job offer in May 2020 at a digital media startup based in Singapore, and it was accomplished through networking. I know a lot of people will be facing loss of job security, especially as the stock market plummets and the economy comes to a dead halt. We are all in this together and this comes at a point in our lives where we will come out on top. Sending best wishes to everyone, and feel free to reach out if you want resources or community support for job searching. 

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