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Balancing early career goals and passion projects with Alex Cheng

Hannah Johnston

Nov 2, 2023
min read

Hatch recently sat down with community member Alexander Cheng who landed a role through Hatch to learn more about his early career story. 

Some might say it’s ‘too hard’ to work on something you’re deeply passionate about, alongside kicking your early career goals. However, Alex would argue it’s possible if you ruthlessly prioritise what’s most important to you. This write-up dives into Alex Cheng’s early career story and how he’s managed to build something he deeply cares about on the side of his career.

How did your career journey begin, and what were your early aspirations?

Alex: My career journey really took shape during high school, thanks to an inspiring legal studies teacher who piqued my interest in studying law. However, I soon realised that law wasn't my calling. I dabbled in various areas during my university years, including accounting and finance, and constantly switched my majors to explore different fields. Ultimately, I discovered that I enjoyed learning about various industries and their inner workings.

Can you tell us about your first job or part-time work experience?

Alex: My first job was as a tutor for a group called "Art of Smart." It was a casual gig, but my first significant paid job was as a clerk for a group of barristers. In that role, I did everything from running errands to doing legal research, which offered me unique insights into the legal field.

How did you come across Hatch, and how did it fit into your career journey?

Alex: I came across Hatch after hearing about Adam Jacobs, co-founder of THE ICONIC, at a panel event. I started following Adam's journey and found Hatch's mission compelling. It aligned with my interests in e-commerce and startups, so I applied for an internship at Qantas through Hatch. While I enjoyed the culture at Qantas and learned about loyalty programs, I realised I preferred the strategic aspects of business over the mechanical aspects of marketing.

Do you have any tips for standing out when applying for roles on platforms like Hatch?

Alex: When applying for roles on platforms like Hatch, focus on telling a compelling story about yourself. Explain who you are, your values, and why you believe the company is the right fit for you. Make sure your narrative shows a logical alignment between your personal journey and the company's mission. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate candidates who can clearly articulate this alignment.

Alex during one of his early career internships

Could you tell us more about "Careers in Colour," the non-profit you founded?

Alex: Careers in Colour is a non-profit organisation I co-founded with friends. Our mission is to support people of colour as they embark on their careers, helping them navigate the challenges they face in the workplace. We organise events and initiatives that bring together individuals to discuss representation, equity, and challenges in various industries. Our goal is to build a community where people can share experiences, raise awareness about these issues, and drive collective impact across Australian workplaces

Alex at a Careers in Colour event

Balancing a full-time consulting career with a passion project can be challenging. How do you manage this?

Alex: Balancing my consulting career and "Careers in Colour" has been a journey of trial and error. I've learned the importance of setting clear priorities and understanding what's non-negotiable in my life. I regularly assess my priorities and make sure I allocate time to the most important tasks each week. This focus on the top three things has helped me manage my workload effectively.

What advice would you give to others looking to pursue their passion projects alongside their careers?

Alex: My advice is to be clear about your priorities and understand the non-negotiable aspects of your life. Regularly evaluate whether your activities align with your goals and values. Remember that it's okay to let some things go if they don't contribute to your overall well-being and mission.

How do you feel about the intersection of work and your passion project, and what impact has it had on your career?

Alex: The intersection of my consulting career and Careers in Colour has been incredibly rewarding. It has allowed me to contribute to a cause I'm passionate about, and connect with values-aligned people within and across multiple industries, all while still pursuing a successful career. I've gained a deeper understanding of community building, social impact, and diversity, which have enhanced my professional journey.

What can you learn from Alex’s early career journey so far? Can you fit in that project you’re deeply passionate about if you prioritise what’s important? Or maybe it’s just working at a company that aligns with your values. You can learn more about companies and their mission via the Hatch hotlist. 

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