When Passion Trumps Disability

Nov 30, 2010   //   by Julian Gan   //   Blog  //  No Comments

University Days

I enrolled into Universiti Tun Abdul Razak in April 2007 and pursued my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I was already an active member of an international non-profit organization called ‘Toastmasters International’. Having met with so many members from District 51 (consisting of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia prior to 2010), exchanging name cards have been somewhat of a habit of mine.

Due to a fortunate turn of events, my university which had just chartered a Toastmasters club earlier, wants to make the club a fully student-run club. Because I was the so-called “most experienced” member of the lot, I had no choice but to take the role of President and guide the members to run meetings and doing their project speeches. The club achieved its first ever “President’s Distinguished Club” status that year, and I went on to become an Area Governor, taking care of 4 clubs.

I’ve collected so many name cards throughout the 2 short years, yet I had no idea what to do with them.

Joining the Workforce

In January 2010, I went through an internship at Leo Burnett Malaysia (an international advertising agency) as part of my graduation requirements. Things started to become really busy, and I began to struggle trying to keep up with 2 heavy responsibilities.

At the same time, a fellow Toastmaster and professional trainer Mr A – having found out I was working in the marketing communications industry – asked me to help him out in communicating his workshops to his customers.

My First Payment

In February 2010, I met up with Mr A again at a Toastmasters contest. He was one of the contestants and I was the organizing chairperson. He thanked me for my help and slid a few notes into my coat while I was busy. I pulled out 2 pieces of crisp RM50 notes later, all for my work which took merely 1 hour of my time.

Breaking a Leg

After completing my internship in May, I went back to the sport which I enjoyed most – Paintball. Though it’s a sport that anyone can jump in and play, it can get pretty extreme if you join tournaments. I was with one of the teams playing in the Malaysian National Paintball League (My-NPL). During one of the practicing drills on 6th June 2010, I executed a slide incorrectly and ended up fracturing my left ankle (Supination Eversion, Stage 2).

My leg was put in a plaster cast and immobilized, and I was told not to walk for 3 months. This was a disaster to me, as I had just graduated and wanted to look for a job. I desperately needed some income to help pay for my study loans or risk being blacklisted from going out of the country.

Working at Home

As I was recuperating at home, Mr A and I continued to communicate over e-mail and he offered me a few jobs which I could do at home. They were mostly copywriting jobs and editing videos, both which I can already do very well. These jobs were to promote an event happening in November 2010, so it was 5 months worth of income. I crafted 2 promotional e-mails per month, and compiled some photos into a promotional video. This earned me a decent income per month, which is not bad since I barely needed to leave my bedroom.

I started walking again in October 2010, and in early November I attended Mr A’s event and exchange name cards with many more people, most of whom were very high-profile professionals. It was truly an exciting experience for a fresh grad like me.

More Clients and Future Prospects

I secured a job recently as a Social Media Executive in a local marketing company. At the same time, I had another offer from an old friend of mine whom I have not met for a few years. She is a stay-at-home mom and businesswoman who is also a professional trainer. We have yet to talk about fees and payment terms, but things are looking great so far. Besides, it always feels good to help a friend.

Just last night, Mr A called and informed me that he had already prepared my final cheque for the services provided over the past 5 months. He also invited me for another appointment as he and his partners would like to engage me for the whole of 2011 to do freelance jobs for marketing communications.

Mr A told me over the phone how lucky I was that I had already started issuing invoices – bearing my own name as the company name – at such a young age.

Who knows? I might just quit my job and do this full time, working on my laptop from wherever I want to.

A 100% Success Rate

Thanks to the communication skills I’ve acquired in my years as a Toastmaster and active NETWORKER, I have not been to a job interview where they do not offer me the position immediately. I remember going to a job interview at Harvey Norman – still with my cast on and walking with crutches – and I was then offered the position of Head of Department. Unfortunately, I had no idea when my leg would fully recover, and I had to politely decline their offer.

Note from editor:
Julian Gan is a young fresh graduate recently obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Hons.) from University Tun Abdul Razak. After completing his training at Leo Burnett Malaysia, he is now a Social Media Executive in a Malaysian company and assists other brands’ Social Media activities on a part-time, freelance basis.

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