In search of more challenging work, he left his high-flying job for something more grounded.
Jet Setting On A New Path In Life
Kevin Ng, a former cabin crew member of six years for a regional airline, decided to leave the high-flying life and switched careers to become a Software Engineer within the span of three months. Curious as to how he did it?
In 2019, he stepped into the world of software development when he took the Software Engineering Immersive programme at General Assembly. Now a software engineer with Zenika, a tech consulting company, Kevin feels much more fulfiled in his line of work.
Kevin Ng, during his flying days
The World Was His Oyster
Being a Cabin Crew member was eye-opening for Kevin. He was able to meet people from all walks of life from around the world. One of the perks of the job was also that he was able to travel to many places and experience a myriad of sights and sounds.
The best part of the job? “I enjoyed feeling like a citizen of the world, waking up in different places every other day, and leading a team of cabin crew members to provide a comfortable journey for travellers” Kevin shares.
While being a member of the cabin crew had its perks, the glow eventually wore off for him. He wanted to do work that was more challenging and had a longer career ladder he could climb.
Choosing Something More Grounded
The switch from leading the cabin crew to software engineering might seem drastic to some, but to Kevin, it made perfect sense. During his travels, he had always noted how technology helped cities go through major transformations.
For instance, when Kevin had just started flying, he had to visit the hotel concierge to pick up a copy of the local map before heading out to explore the city. Sometimes, he would also head to the library to reference travel books to see what was worth visiting during his short stay.
Back then, he would also need to deal with the hassle of changing and keeping track of more currencies than his fingers could count.
But all that changed with the introduction of online maps, reviews, and multicurrency e-wallets. He felt drawn to the wonderful changes that technology introduced, and knew that he wanted to be a part of the solution in this industry
Taking The Leap Of Faith: Jumping Out Of A Plane And Landing On Code
Kevin Ng, (left) posing with customer service robot
You might think it would take Kevin years to make the switch, but he only needed a three month, full-time course with General Assembly where he learnt software development and engineering best practices from scratch.
When asked about the course, he shared “From someone who has zero experience and background in aoftware engineering, I was equipped with the necessary skills to be an employable developer.”
During the 3 months, Kevin and his classmates had a lot of fun diving into the rabbit hole of programming. Having a classroom of highly motivated individuals helped him keep pushing during tough times when certain concepts were difficult to understand.
Kevin’s main challenge, in the beginning, was having to adapt to long hours of sitting at a desk, since he was so used to being on his feet all the time for work. Thankfully, solving the various challenges during his course kept him glued to his chair!
A Peek Into His Life As A Software Engineer
Kevin, when he just graduated from General Assembly
As a software engineer at Zenika now, Kevin’s day starts by selecting the tasks that he wants to tackle. This could be fixing the broken parts of an application, building a new feature, or integrating the current platform with another service.
Before diving into any task though, he makes sure that he understands the business requirements so that he can solve each task effectively.
Kevin sees the need to consistently learn new things to solve new problems as an opportunity for growth, which ties in back to his goal of doing more cumulative work.
In his words, “The greatest sense of satisfaction I get is when things run smoothly after hours of tinkering, and you see your code come to life on the screen.”
To him, there is not much difference between being a software engineer and a cabin crew member. He still works in a team, relying on each other’s strengths to solve problems. The only change is that now, “I face the computer instead of customers, and by comparison, it’s much easier to deal with computers!”
If You Never Try, You’ll Never Know
While the fear of falling is very real, Kevin is grateful for the support of his wife, family and friends which has helped him gradually overcome this fear.
Stepping out of the comfort zone to forsake what you have accumulated for many years, just to start afresh from the ground up takes a lot of effort and bravery.
Kevin’s advice for those thinking of doing a career switch is to take calculated risks, and not to include emotions like fear, self-doubt and ego. Once the decision is made, he advises getting ready to immerse yourself in it fully even though you might feel that it’s not your cup of tea at the start.
“Commit to what you want to achieve and give yourself a timeline. if it doesn’t work out, at least you had a memorable experience that’s life-enriching. But more often than not, you’ll emerge victoriously.”