//This blog is updated in 2020//
It is a challenge for job seekers to work in an innovative business especially in Hong Kong — “Isn’t it too risky to work in a startup? Do I have to work overtime every day? Will I need to work on many things that I have no expertise in or interest in?” These might be some of the typical questions that may pop up in the job seeker’s mind when trying to find an internship or a job.
As today’s my last day as an intern in archiparti, I’d like to share my fantastic and valuable experiences to anyone who’s interested in joining a Hong Kong tech startup.
Things that ONLY STARTUP can provide you
While currently studying in the UK, I had been interested in the field of marketing for quite some time. I find marketing interesting as it is a job that requires a decisive mind to tackle tasks, with changes to the market that can be quick and sometimes unpredictable, trends that need to be kept a constant eye on, while also requires a keen mind in detail and creativity. All the hardships are worth it in my opinion as the job can reward me with a great sense of accomplishment because the result of my every contribution, however big or small, into the marketing plan can be revealed quickly once it is implemented. To see people’s reaction to something I had worked hard on especially if they enjoy and find the result interesting or fun, brings me great satisfaction and a feeling of achievement.
After several interviews in large organizations however, I found that they were not as appealing as I initially thought. To be fair, those jobs sounded interesting but there were fewer opportunities due to the huge amounts of competition but small amounts of openings. Thus they are much harder to get into. Another reason was because of the organizational structure of these huge companies. It seemed as though they don’t offer you directions to go towards or clues of your work when you’re only a fresher in the real business world. As someone that is new to the job it creates confusion and a feeling of being useless in a department where everyone was busy. Given how busy everyone seemed it also felt wrong to bother them with my petty questions leading to a viscous cycle as I felt less and less motivated to work. As an intern, I did not care as much about wages as compared to gaining experience from work. I valued the experiences I got from working in new companies, facing new challenges, tackling tasks that were foreign to me, and meeting new people. Working with different people that has different working and management styles allowed me to learn how to work with others efficiently and smoothly and I think is one of the most important aspects when going to work. I cared about what practical tactics we can learn on the job, or the ways on how a company survives while having to face dozens of competitors that are also competing for attention and market share. These are the things that makes me want to wake up, get off the bed and go to work for, the challenges, unpredictability and fulfillment at the end of the day were what I longed for.
Based on these reasons, the idea of working in a startup caught my attention as I thought startups might be a completely different direction compared to the big companies I applied for previously but are also most likely to fulfill what I wanted in the first place. After doing some careful research and going to a few interviews, I ultimately decided to be join archiparti as an intern for a 3-month period. Actually, archiparti was a startup that was supported and incubated by the Swire properties Blueprint Accelerator program. Archiparti is a company that provides a platform linking independent designers and designing firms with project owners and large corporations. As an online marketplace it provides solutions that traditional methods cannot or are less oriented to do so. It definitely helped to reduce unnecessary conflicts between different parties. While simultaneously provides better opportunities for both interior designers and project owners. Interior designers, even if they are just starting their career, can join archiparti and submit proposals to projects they feel confident in and compete with larger more established firms on equal footing. While project owners can receive multiple proposals from interior designers and design firms from all around the world and pick the one that matches their taste and vision the most. Project owners can specify the things they need through the website which makes it easier for designers to pick projects that they know they can manage while also allowing project owners to get the service that they need more easily and within their budget and time frame. Because of all these advantages, within a few months there were over 1,200 designers that signed up to be under the wings of archiparti. Unlike traditional design firms, in an online age where technology brings the world ever closer, archiparti would like to spread its completely brand-new concept to the international market and allow their designers to compete on an international market.
Next I would like to talk about my adventure working in archiparti. I had divided my work experience into 3 stages.
The local team is a small team of only five people when I joined. I was required to adapt to the rapidly changing environment and quickly set up feasible marketing strategies for the company. Due to the small number of employees but large amount of work that needs to be done there were many tasks thrown to my way that encompassed a large variety of tasks. From expanding the popularity of our website, managing all sorts of software, boosting social media performance, to something more technical such as setting up a printer. All were tasks I had to learn and tackle, while they were a wide assortment of tasks and many were not what would had ever imagine to have to complete, I learnt a lot more exactly because I was given the chance to complete these tasks that I otherwise would not had touched if I had worked in a large company as all these tasks would have separate teams to manage and experts to follow through. In the three months I absorbed as much knowledge and experience as I could, alongside archiparti‘s helpful guidance.
As archiparti knew interns might very well be new to the trade they had taken steps to provide support for all members. To ensure everyone was familiar with the basic techniques and knowledge required to tackle tasks, archiparti provided self-learning tutorials such as SEO material to all new-comers. The first few days were very intensive training with many new ideas to pick up and get familiar with. However, through continuous practices, learning, and most importantly using the things I had learnt in the tasks I was given to complete, it became easier and easier to deal with the tasks. Surprisingly through working and learning in archiparti it also aided in helping me to explore and find out my real interest as well as examined my abilities for different tasks. After the internship I am more confident and know my strengths and weaknesses much better as compared to three months ago when I was just starting.
Once you get more familiar with the culture, operating flow, working standard and procedures then congratulations! You are now in stage 2. Piles of works will line up quietly waiting for you to complete everyday, but there’s no need for panic. They are really not your nightmares as long as you make use of tactics you learned in Stage 1. By implementing what you learnt earlier you can definitely produce high-quality and creative work that are up to the standards required in archiparti. However this is why it was necessary and very important to pay attention and invest more effort on Stage 1 as it will make your life later in the internship much simpler and easier.
During my stay in archiparti I had come to realize they highly value their worker’s creativity. The company thinks that both project owners or designers deserve a more creative lifestyle and work space. Therefore, the team being ever trusting and respecting of their employees, put in a lot of emphasis to make sure their employees use of their creativity as much as possible to finish their work efficiently and inventively. An example of this for me was the video shooting task I was given to complete. It was an experience that was absolutely fun and I think was the best part of working in marketing. The reason for video making was because archiparti was creating a series of short introductory videos at the time for online audience. I was given the responsibility for monitoring several professional camera crews and to coordinate with project owners. It was true that sometimes I felt lost and not knowing whether I was doing everything right or up to my supervisor’s standards. Luckily, even though my lack of experience in this work archiparti still gave me the opportunity to try it out while giving me instructions, guidance, and supports whenever I felt like I needed more help. My colleagues also had the chances to show their talents on things they were passion about. For example, people who love organizing and socializing can take the role of event organizer. While those who enjoyed designing helped to create fabulous graphics designs for social media. Each person was given the chance to do the things they love and enjoyed the most and we all had a lot of fun working for archiparti.
With a steady growing of our company, I gradually took up more and more responsibilities, such as sharing experiences, giving instructions to the newcomers, assisting them to get familiar with the working environment and tasks, etc. I felt I’ve ‘grown up’ from someone who followed instructions to someone who set up manuals and guidelines for the others. Eventually, there are now around 20 team members in the current stage.
3 values startups are pursuing
Someone with courage and confident is the one a startup is searching for. Karbi Chan, the founder of archiparti, says an unwavering faith is all a startup team needs. Be curious, developing a self-learning habit, and most importantly, finding your own way. This is when your talent will be fully utilized. Always keep in mind that ‘Never Give Up, Yes I can.’
2. Eager to learn
The world is far more mystery than you think. In the modern digital world, we have no excuse for being passive in learning. A good leader assigns the right task to the right person instead of randomly giving out irrelevant jobs. What does a right job mean? It’s a task that initiates one’s self-learning and challenge-handling skills. In this way, both the company and individuals can make a great progress and improve. We’re here to keep pace with the company’s growth, aren’t we?
In the preliminary stage, shortage of manpower is a common problem. Multi-tasking is an ideal, or sometimes basic, technique if you want to work in a startup. It may seem hard, but it definitely worths your time and efforts to develop. When you look back your first day working in a startup, and find that you’ve grown to be more fearless and flexible — you’ve discovered your unexpected talent.
Our team’s energetic and smart. Every day at work, we’re like having fun more than working. Guess what — it’s the secret of our high productivity.
We work in a remote team on flexible hours, receiving messages from other helpful colleagues as always. When we look at the big picture, what our company is actually doing is to create invisible bonds among us. Through a well-coordinated system, ‘Nothing is Impossible’.
Besides archiparti, there are hundreds of startup in Hong Kong. For each startup, there are different management cultures behind the operation. Before applying, THINK TWICE about whether the jobs fulfill your expectation: do they have a mature government mechanism? What is the market prospect? There are many challenges that every startup encounters – high-rents, difficulty in attracting experienced employees, immature investing system, conservative market, among others. I hope to see more supports from various parties, so that enthusiastic young blood can join a brighter startup world in the future.
Brian Choi, Marketing and Design Intern