We Asked Singapore Millennials How COVID-19 Has Affected Their Lives
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We Asked Singapore Millennials How COVID-19 Has Affected Their Lives

profileXue Miao
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COVID-19 has caused huge shifts in our routines and lifestyles.

Schools have been closed, and work-from-home arrangements have never been more common.

As we scramble to adapt and adjust to new norms, many businesses had to find new ways to survive and stay afloat.

Is It Really All Doom and Gloom for Us? 🙁

We spoke to 7 young Singaporeans whose lives have been greatly affected by this situation, to find out how they have been coping, and what they have been doing since the start of COVID-19.

 

COVID 19 affecting Singaporeans

 


 

Jude Tan

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

Hi my name is Jude Tan and I am a flight steward of a top airline company.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adapt due to this current situation?

COVID-19 has affected me immeasurably in a financial sense.

I used to fly an average of 7 flights a month but I am flying a lot lesser now and taking at least a 75% pay cut.

As a cabin crew, a huge portion of our salary comes from flying allowances. Thankfully, I am still given my basic salary.

I also have savings to ride me through this rough period and have also done some freelance online projects just to pay the bills.

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

As the aviation industry has taken one of the hardest hits of the outbreak, I think we will take a while to fully recover from this pandemic. However, being a top global airline, I have strong faith in my company.

My company has trained us to think on our feet and be susceptible to unforeseen circumstances.

I will consciously make an effort to do pre-planning, which is very similar to getting an aircraft ready.

We must always be prepared in cases of emergency.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

Change is the only constant. We should always adapt to change and make the best out of any situation.

Save for rainy days, consider secondary sources of income, and always have a savings plan.

It will come in handy during such a global crisis.


Abu Sufian Yap

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

Hello, my name is Sufian but people know me as Mr. Boo.

By day, I head talent management for AOS Collective. I handle bookings, schedules and talent growth.

By night, I am a full-time hypeman for clubs in Singapore.

I’m also the stage wife for Singapore’s rap export Thelioncityboy.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adapt due to this current situation?

The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted me greatly. I suffered a drastic loss of my monthly income from both jobs.

Re-evaluating my spending habits was key. I had to monitor every single dollar that was coming out of my bank account.

On the plus side of things, I got to take a much-needed break to analyse my life. I really started to visualize what the future had in store for me. With the extra time, I managed to find some temp solutions to my financial problems.

Some solutions include:
1. Helping friends with household deliveries
2. I’m in the process of starting a live auction page on Facebook, to take advantage of people’s time spent at home by giving them an alternative avenue for spending.
3. Starting a podcast with one of the DJs in AOS collective, DJ Shai
4. Signing up with SG Healthcare Corps to help combat this virus in Singapore. My training starts soon! Wish me luck.

Kudos to all the healthcare/frontline workers in Singapore. You people are CHAMPIONS!

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

Without a vaccine, my industry is in it for the long haul. We will be the last industry that will be officially given the green light to operate.

But if we as a people are socially responsible, I believe that we can overcome this soon.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

The outbreak has taught me about the importance of diversification.

It’s the same with investing. Never put your eggs in one basket. It has also shown me that you should never take things for granted. Things like my health. I realised that having savings are extremely important in situations like this.

I also discovered that if I diligently put effort into something, I will see the benefits financially, physically, and mentally.

I didn’t come from a well-to-do family.

So the main important lesson I took from this outbreak is that as much as I love the “toys” that I could get to buy with money, I don’t really need them.

Managing priorities is the most important now.


 

Benjamin Chia

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

Hi my name is Benjamin. I am a full-time photographer based in Singapore.

I run my own photography practice – Studio Benjamin, where I specialise in portrait, event, and wedding photography.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adapt due to this current situation?

Covid-19 has definitely caused business to come to a complete standstill. I would say that 90% of my income from photography jobs has been lost since the virus became widespread.

I have had to pivot, diversify and look for alternative sources of income.

I am also very grateful to be able to conduct online photography lessons thanks to the support of friends who are in the student placement business.

Complementary to this field I have also received a few requests for copy editing work and mentoring students who are weaker in the English language, akin to giving tuition.

Other enquiries that I have received are for small-scale video editing assignments, as well as web design services.

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

It has made me think about future-proofing my business and see what the future would offer the creative industry, especially in the field of photography and videography, where I am seeing trends that technology is encroaching into our space and replacing more of our capabilities.

Thankfully, there is still the human touch that A.I. or robotics can’t replace, and the strength of being a service provider is the relationship you build with your clients and the level of service you are known for.

The pandemic has definitely spurred me to think long-term and I plan to venture into giving back to society through education – teaching and sharing my knowledge and experience.

I plan to spend my 40s doing this, and for now, continue to shoot as much as I for the rest of my 30s.

The other thing that has been on my mind is to continue to make stable investments in other areas unrelated to what I am doing so as to ensure I have enough reserves to tide through times of crisis.

So, the goal is to be smart and play the long view in investing.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

Covid-19 has taught me a lot about empathy, humility and resilience. It has made me aware of the plight of others around me who are in more dire circumstances, and that there are people who care and want to help others around them.

I have witnessed my own friends taking the initiative to band together and consolidate donations in the form of foodstuffs to deliver to the migrant worker community, and business owners who give concessions to employees and their partners.

If anything, it is to look on the more positive side of things despite many of the negative narratives regularly appearing on social media.

Ultimately, we are an interdependent species, and if we are to ride out this storm we have to do it together as a team.


 

Happy Fish

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

I am Winter, a senior wealth manager by day and an e-fishmonger by night (haha!), and together with my brother, Yi Feng, we set up Happy Fish!

Happy Fish Seafood Pte Ltd (Instagram/Facebook) is an extension of my mum’s humble local fish business.

We mainly focus and leverage on e-commerce platforms to extend its reach to newer, tech-savvy generations (us millennials!) and we specialise mainly in wild-caught sea fish (海鱼).

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adapt due to this current situation?

When the Circuit Breaker measures were put in place, my mum’s stall at the wet market was definitely negatively impacted as entry is restricted and there is less traffic due to people staying home and wanting to avoid crowded places.

My mum brought us up single-handedly and has been the sole breadwinner for the family. My brother and I could see how hard it was for her to manage the financial burden of supporting us.

As our mum aged, we started seeing the toll it took on her physical health. She would come home rubbing her aching kneecaps quietly in the kitchen from a long day of standing.

We always knew we wanted to help ease her burden and give her a good retirement.

Our plan to do so got set in motion when COVID-19 hit.

This led my brother and me to devise a solution, to bring our seafood to the doorsteps of our customers by setting up an online e-commerce and delivery service.

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

My brother and I both have helped out at the wet market countless times.

Nothing quite compares to the early morning hustle and bustle of our Singapore wet markets, the scent of fresh produce, spice and herbs wafting through the aisles, with shouts of-exchange between stall owners and their haggling customers.

While this is part of our culture and heritage, we do recognize that times are changing and new trends are evolving.

Millennials are finding it harder to manage their time and wake up early in the morning to go marketing as many are now choosing to do their grocery shopping online and have it delivered to their homes instead.

As it has always been a goal to bring my mum’s business online, the current COVID situation is a good opportunity to help set this plan into motion.

Setting up our online service opens up to this new group of clientele, providing them a quick and easy way to order our seafood and have it delivered to their doorstep.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

COVID-19 struck us too suddenly. It feels like a “pause & restart” button for me, to take a step back to think, act, adapt, and evolve.

I’ve been taught that: Change! Is The Only Constant Thing in Life.

With this in mind, I hope that together, we make the most of what we are given to learn and grow, to get through this difficult time and come out of it stronger.

Most importantly, we want our customers to know that Happy Fish deliveries will still continue to be around even after the CB period ends.

Lastly, being an entrepreneur and a millennial myself, I’m humbly honored to be able to share my thoughts on this platform.


Ryan We The People

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

I’m Ryan and I’m one of the co-founders of We The People, an international chain of crowdfunding stores and incubator/ accelerator.

We provide pathways for startups to launch on Kickstarter, and sell globally through our channels.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adopt due to this current situation?

The whole team took a massive pay cut. In fact, the founders, we stopped taking salary altogether to make sure our staff got paid.

While a lot of the world was doing layoffs, we did not let a single person go.

Since we’re in the business of providing innovative products to the world, we refocused our efforts to bring in hygiene-related products.

Such as the Pocket Mask holder, UV Sterilizers that have been successful at killing coronaviruses, both for home use (clothes rack) and on the go.

Working from home did present everyone with a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvent themselves to see what they could offer the digital world.

Personally, I picked up Final Cut Pro, and now I can say that I know how to direct, shoot, and edit my videos.

One of my other co-founders, Nison Chan, started working part-time at U Stars supermarket, selling fruit and veggies, which got popular because his Instagram stories were teaching people how to choose fruits properly!

(He also got featured on 938Live for that!)

While this whole COVID thing sure isn’t good, we shouldn’t sit down and sulk. This is the best time to regroup, refocus and push forward new ideas.

If not now, then when?

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

I’m positive here.

If we keep up our efforts at self-improvement and reinvention, together with the governments help we are definitely going to come out of this even more resilient than before.

Those who are left standing will take the market. (talking from both a personal and company standpoint)

You can see so many potential cultural shifts budding.

Are offices even necessary? Dining out will not be the same as before anymore.

There has been a stronger sense of camaraderie since we have a common goal to fight against.

No one can really predict what this new normal is going to be but one thing’s for sure, we’re going to be way more digitally connected than ever before.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

Discipline.

Being at home everyday might not be the most conducive environment for a lot of people.

Finding a way you can really zone in and hustle on your goals will prove to be a great edge moving forward.

The tech giants have already said working from home is fine and can be continued, they are leading a global shift. If my company wasn’t so physical, I’d tell my team to stay home as well.

On a personal level, being home with family is golden.

Nothing can beat that.

(Psssst… We The People has kindly offered a promo code for the Seedly Community! Just quote “SEEDLY” at the checkout page for 15% off all products.)


anonymous contributor

(Contributor wishes to remain anonymous.)

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

I work in the entertainment industry. I am signed to a talent agency but only get paid for every job I managed to clinch.

As I am not a salaried employee, I consider myself a freelancer.

The search for employment is on-going for people in our industry.

Of course, I supplement my income through various part-time pursuits as well because Singapore’s arts and entertainment industry is simply not big enough as a viable full-time career unless you’re one of the top players of the industry.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adapt due to this current situation?

It is without any doubt that a pandemic crushes the freelance industry, and it’s a double whammy for one in the entertainment industry because it is essentially an industry that is defined by people coming together.

To non-salaried workers, this means that a majority of our streams of income has been cut off.

For me, the only stream of income left is internet engagement by brands who are still willing to spend on advertisements in the climate of a global recession, and of course there is the worry that the number of them will dwindle in the months to come.

One strategy to adopt is to continue building our career capital, i.e. building up our identity and personal brand. This is so that when the economy springs back up we can secure more engagements.

I can’t think of any other ways in terms of supplementing my income other than seeking employment as an essential worker.

I’m starting to look into it and will not rule out taking on work in essential services if the pandemic situation does not get better.

So since I can’t supplement income the next best way is to really be thrifty, which is not difficult anyway when the country is under a lockdown.

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

Covid-19 will continue to affect our industry as long as there is a danger for people to congregate because our industry needs people coming together.

Concerts, festivals and cinemas, together with the other complimenting industries will suffer as long as it is dangerous for people to get together.

I’d say COVID-19 marks a huge shift for artists like me, and I have been spending a lot of time rethinking what it means to be an artist in this “new world”.

This shift may mark a radical change to the definition of our career, for better or for worse I am still not sure. I only hope for the best.

One thing for sure is we have to adapt quickly.

For example the music industry went through a radical shift when physical sales changed to streaming. Artists who thrive are those that realize that music sells everything else except the music itself.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

I think it’s sad to say that in terms of financial planning for the arts and entertainment industry, nothing has improved, and COVID-19 only serves to highlight the risks of being a non-salaried worker.

It’s especially the case in the context of Singapore because the finance and service industries have always been the main drivers of our economy, and the safety nets will always be found in those industries.

If anything, I’ve been coming to the realization that it is perhaps better for an artist to pursue his career in larger markets overseas.


Benjamin Novitee

Could you introduce yourself, and what do you do for a living?

I’m Benjamin, a passionate entrepreneur, founded several companies and currently Founder and Managing Director for Novitee, one of Singapore’s leading F&B Technology companies.

An F&B Profit Strategist and a Father of two.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially, and what are some changes you had to adopt due to this current situation?

One of our main products is our Point-of-Sales (POS). During COVID-19, the demand for a physical POS machine plummeted.

Thankfully, we just launched our online ordering platform, in view of completing a full online-to-offline solution.

Hence, we were able to mitigate a potentially huge problem and the company has been able to cope well.

We understood the problems the F&Bs were facing, and last month, together with Yellow Pages and supported by NTUC e2i, we launched Manyplaces.sg.

It is a free F&B directory to help the local F&B industry tide through a very challenging period.

How do you think the current situation will impact you in the long run?

As the managing director for Novitee, we serve F&B clients. With F&B being badly affected, it trickles down to us.

Thus, we need to keep innovating to ensure that we can adapt to a fast-changing F&B and social landscape.

A big factor is Uncertainty – The social distancing and precautionary measures will likely be encouraged even after Circuit Breaker is lifted.

This will continue to affect negatively towards F&B business environment, increasing risks of the opening or expanding an F&B business.

Hence, we are rushing even more innovations to make sure that we can adapt to the market.

 

Also, adversity brings forth opportunities.

With consumers ordering online more often, F&Bs are now forced to take their businesses online.

What was once a good to have, is now crucial to survival.

As long as we can latch on to the correct direction, this might even result in a bigger opportunity in spite of a very different environment.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

Staying united and to help one another where it’s within our capacity to do so.

COVID-19 has made many Singaporeans to come together and help fight this virus in their own ways.

We have seen how our essential healthcare workers made sacrifices to be away from their families and work long hours.

We have seen how f&b delivery riders/drivers sacrifice to be in the public, delivering orders for fellow Singaporeans.

We have seen how cleaners are upping their game to increase the cleaning and sanitising works in order to keep the nation clean.

We have seen many MNCs and SMEs coming forward to create initiatives out of their goodwill in an effort to help badly affected industries.

And this was why we came up with the Manyplaces.sg initiative.

There are many other examples of how ordinary people or actions have become a heroic act in their own ways to fight this battle.


 

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About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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