The opportunity to pursue my Master degree abroad is such a dream come true. Since a teenager, I dreamt of experiencing study abroad. However, at that time I had no idea how to achieve that dream. The experience of becoming one of the grantees in NTUST, Taiwan, opened the big door for my future. I still remembered how was my feeling when I left Indonesia in 2009. Finally, I had the chance to have my first international flight and to be really independent without any family or relatives in a foreign country. Luckily, I took a flight in groups with other new scholarship grantees. In the middle of my study, I also had a chance to attend a Nanotechnology conference in Malaysia to present my research paperwork. For that purpose, I need to take a flight from Taipei to KL without any companion. It was the first time in my life for having a flight all by myself. I was scared if anything happened to me during that trip. Nevertheless, I still remembered what my adviser told me, “There is always a first time in life, whether you like it or not.” I think it’s true and very applicable in the real world.
In the second year of my Master study in Taiwan, I had committed myself to find a job there. Why? Because I was thinking if I had a chance to experience working abroad, then it will be nice to be put in my CV. In addition, I also feel comfortable staying in Taiwan, with all of the kindness of the people, with its convenience in public transportation, and with all of the strong feeling of connection. In short, I actually didn’t want to leave Taiwan after I graduated from university.
So, what did I do?
Finding a job in Taiwan
Find a job is never easy, especially if you’re a foreigner. The first thing you will need is a working permit to find a legal and formal job. This working permit could be obtained from the government, but you need a supporting document from the company who hired you. An exception case is if you are looking for a part time job, then it may not necessary to have a working permit.
Taiwanese students are very competitive. It’s common for Taiwanese to get higher education degree until Master or even Ph.D., which means I need to compete with thousand local graduates to get a job in order to make me survive and keep staying in Taiwan. With limited Mandarin language skill, I started to sign up at one of Taiwan largest job search portal www.104.com.tw. The website wrote fully in Mandarin. Thus, I utilized Google translate and asked my Taiwanese friends to help me fill up my profile. I also actively sent my resume to the listed company.
Day by day, I got no good answer. Until finally one day, I got an interview offering from one of the engineering company. I felt very excited and I prepared the best version of myself. The interview was going smooth, and I felt quite confident with the test as well. After waiting for some weeks, eventually, I received the good news from the company that I was accepted as one of their new employees. But, surprisingly after few days, the HR sent an email to me saying that they need to cancel hiring me because of the new government regulation. I felt angry, but nothing I can do at that time. I cried, useless though. I talked with my Taiwanese friends and they were also questioning how come it happened. A few days later, my adviser called me into his office and asked me about my future plan after graduate. I told him what happened, about me struggling to find a job in Taiwan and then he promised to help me. I didn’t expect much though.
Long story short, I got an interview at one of my Professor’s colleague laboratory. The interview process took around 2 hours, and at the end finally, I got the job. My job responsibility as a research assistant in one of a government university institute. I felt so happy at that time and can’t wait to start my first day. I need to prepare my Working Visa with the supporting letter provided by that institution.
My first day was going well, but I’m the only foreigner in the office and most of my colleagues have limited ability in speaking English. With my basic Mandarin skill, I need to communicate my job to the others in order to survive in the institution.
I also need to move out from school dormitory and found an apartment to stay with local Taiwanese. At the end, I got my Mandarin language skills being improved as a bonus. Taiwanese are known as a hard-working people and they are used to work in long working time. I worked for a year in that place. My daily routine consisted of preparing a sample, then running the sample in certain equipment available in the laboratory and recorded the data. Once in a week, I need to give an individual progress report to my boss. Besides that, I also join a group meeting once in a month where every member in the group will get a turn to present their works. Besides me, there is one Taiwanese who also working as a research assistant and becoming a good friend of mine. There were also some Master and Ph.D. students in the laboratory.
The next step
After a year, I decided not to continue my contract, even though my former boss offered me to support prolonging my working visa. I tried to find other jobs in Taiwan. After few months struggling and went to interview from one company to others, finally I got an offer from one of the banks in Taiwan. At the same time, I also got an offer from a multinational company based in Indonesia. After a hard time making a decision, I finally decided to go back to Indonesia and started a new life in my hometown. I never regret to have an experience working abroad because it was such a memorable time which make me a stronger person to face the reality of life.
Based on my experience, if you want to work in Taiwan, it will be beneficial if you have a basic Mandarin skill for speaking (it also worth for daily life, especially if you want to buy something and need to bargain). Please also bear in mind that the salary tax is quite high in Taiwan (I forgot the exact number), but it still reasonable if you compare with the benefit that you will get, such a good national health insurance and convenient public transportation.
Life is short, thus you need to maximize the meaning of your life and reach your dream, no matter how difficult it is. So, I encourage youths to seize the opportunity and take experience abroad as much as you can to broaden your perspective and networking. Good luck!
Photos are provided by the author.