So it might be cliche to say that it’s not the end that matters but the journey you took to get there, yet there are some tangible truths to it. Everything you do regardless of how small it may seem can change you in ways you didn’t think possible. Trying to do multiple things in life may seem difficult, sometimes downright impossible — there are simply too many things you want to do and not enough time to do them all.
Thomas Huang, our current head of projects here at Happyer, has somehow managed to come quite close to that unreachable dream. Not only is he currently juggling multiple roles, from mentoring and emceeing to working in a startup, but he also has over 17 thousand Instagram followers and used to be an extremely well-decorated student. If you’re looking for tips on how he’s managed to cram so many different opportunities into his life, we’ve got some of the answers for you in this exclusive interview!
1. How did you come to be where you are today?
I graduated with a BA in Economics and a BS in Political Science/International Relations from the largest university in the USA, University Central Florida. I then went on to get a BBA in International Business from the ICN Business School in France and finally an MSc in Economics from the Hong Kong Baptist University.
2. Wow! You’ve studied a lot. As a student who’s not only won a lot of scholarships and competitions but also held multiple leadership positions, how did you do it?
I’d say you need to be proactive because you get in what you put out. Most importantly, you need to overcome your fear of rejection and failure. Stay open-minded and try everything at least once! Join a bunch of clubs then focus on a few that you really enjoy. Grow and contribute to them by trying for leadership positions. Always keep your end in mind, like where you want to be or see yourself later in life, and make sure the extracurriculars you choose are helping you to get there. Finally, try talking to random strangers and other students you normally wouldn’t! There’s always something to learn from everyone, as they all have a unique story to tell.
3. Well, now onto your professional experience. What made you pursue a career with startups? Have you tried setting up your own before?
After I graduated from HKBU, I started two startups during the final months in uni and after and managed to gain acceptance into the Cyberport University Partnership Program. This gave us training every Saturday with startup leaders and government institutions like HKMA! Our idea was fintech-based, we were attempting to help stay-at-home mothers learn how to invest in stocks. They even flew us to the University of Chicago to attend a week-long training program in entrepreneurship at the Chicago Booth School of Business, the top business school in the US. Later, I earned a chance to study at UC Berkeley with HKBU’s startup program because our team clinched the Top 5 in startup pitches during the HKBU x UCB entrepreneurship boot camp in Hong Kong.
After all this, I still hesitated between joining a large corporation or a multinational bank and a startup. Eventually, I decided to continue on the startup route because it was more flexible and creative, plus I was still young and could take risks. I joined an open innovation startup that raised 14 million USD in funding to learn from them as my previous startup attempts had failed. I eventually left and decided to help launch Happyer as I had met Julio a year prior to a dream jobs event where I was a panelist and we managed to stay in touch. He was looking for someone outgoing, could do sales, and build partnerships, so we really clicked. I also believe strongly in the vision and objective of helping people become “happyer” and healthier when they find the right jobs for them and being able to provide the resources to help them do so.
4. You’re a very active mentor and coach. How did you get into this?
This also started from back in my university days. Even back then I was helping to mentor incoming students on college preparedness, best practices, internships and job applications, just to name a few. I realized I greatly enjoy giving back to society because I’ve received so much for myself and it’s kind of like paying it forward. I have 3 brothers and I hope they’ll be able to find good mentors and coaches as well. In Hong Kong, I was asked to help mentor students going through the same program a year later from UC Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, HKBU, HKUST, and HKU. It was really exciting to coach these intelligent people to reach their full potential and also learn from them. They were super super intellectual, the team I coached even had a medical doctor. I was able to contribute my talent as a public speaker and my experiences from pitching to investors for my own startups for them. It was incredible to see them grow from being awkward at speaking, to pitching amazingly on stage and answering questions perfectly. Since then I’ve always helped out at hackathons and events for students.
5. You really do a lot! Have you ever “burnt-out”? What are your tips for avoiding or coming back from it?
Yes! I tend to overexert myself. Sometimes I think I’m a workaholic, especially if I’m very passionate about what I do. My tip is to try to maintain more of a balance, but if you burn out, don’t feel bad about taking a few days off to recharge. For introverts, take this time to stay home and disconnect. Myself, I really enjoy traveling. Just a few days at the beach by the water will recharge me and get me ready to go back strong upon returning. Massages are always nice! Try to log out from social media and put aside anything that could make you stressed. You can get back to that later on and mental and physical health should be your priority. Personal time is definitely important.
And there you have it! Thomas has certainly led a truly exciting life up till this point and there’s no telling what he’ll do next. It’s truly rewarding to enjoy multiple things in life and there’s no reason why you can’t do them well either. Stick with your passions and step out of your comfort zone and you’ll find a completely new avenue of things that you might love!
If you want to start finding your passion today, Happyer is your one-stop-shop for all things dream job-related. Check out our platform and find your best match!