🏭 Age 10 - electronics assembly factory worker
My earliest part-time job was when I was 10 and I 'worked' in my uncle's electronics company assembling, soldering, packing electronic parts. This was my first taste of work and needless to say I didn't enjoy it very much then as a kid. It wasn't a serious job actually, but he was very kind to let me try it out and to earn some extra pocket money. I probably spent (erhem *wasted) all of that to rent video games to play on my Nintendo! Video games were huge in those days.
🦁 Age 12 - lion dance stand-in
This was a one-off, one-day gig as Chinese New Year lion dancer, visiting shops in a shopping mall and doing the customary lion dance ceremony at every shop as part of giving good fortune for the new year. If you watched lion dances in China or South East Asia before, the costume is much like those 2-man pantomime horse costumes in the US. I knew nuts about lion dance, but they only needed someone to switch over and stand in when the main ritual was over, so that didn't need much skill. All I had to do was to follow the real lion dancer in front, wriggle around and act real. But the money was good.
🌹 Age 18 - street vendor
I bought glass roses on consignment from a supplier once and tried selling them on the streets during Valentine's Day. Needless to say it was a terrible flop. I only sold one and had to return the rest in defeat. The constant rejection from approaching people on the street to buy your thing was the killer. I realised I couldn't really do sales. It's still holds true to this day - marketing my products as an indie maker had always been my greatest challenge.
💣 Age 19 - bridge builder, explosives handler
Does serving National Service count as a part-time gig? Not really, but we certainly had to do weird stuff that people in other countries would never have to. For those who are unaware, every Singaporean male above the age of 18 had to serve in the armed forces. I served as a combat engineer, building things like military bridges, minefields (boo!), trenches and wire obstacles. We even had to handle real explosives - C4 charges, plastic explosives and the like. At 18. When you're young, you're not afraid. Or just plain naive.
💁♂️ Age 21 - catering waiter
I did a whole bunch of weird gigs when I was in university. This was the least strange one - as a waiter for a catering company. We had to do everything from hard labour of carrying logistics to setting up a catering event to actual waitering and finally packing up after. Fun moment was when I got to waiter at a local celebrity Zoe Tay's wedding! It was sweaty and tough work in the service line, but it paid for my dream backpacking trips to Europe and the US, so it was super worthwhile. This was when I truly learned about the value of hard work and how with hard work you can fulfil your dreams.
🎽 Age 21 - Nike model
*Humblebrag* I even did 'modelling' for Nike once, though not the cat walk in a fashion show kind. It was just to showcase new sports apparel to a handful of potential buyers, and it was a closed door event. I was pretty sporty then in university and a friend who worked in that company then recommended, so I was lucky. TBH, I didn't enjoy the spotlight.
🚗 Age 22 - traffic surveyor
This was about manually counting the number of cars that pass through a traffic junction. I think it was commissioned by the public transport authorities to research on the traffic volume at busy junctions. This was during my university days, so it was fun just hanging out with friends while sitting in random, unexpected places in the middle of nowhere.
🧗♂️ Age 22 - rock-climbing instructor
I loved rock-climbing in my university days and got gigs to assist in climbing courses and events. That was fun and I learned that working in something you already love was bliss. That shaped the career narrative I'd come to embrace in my later years after graduation - that "follow your passion" advice.
🐭 Age 23 - lab rat
I saved the strangest one for the last - almost did a drug trial gig as guinea pig for a drug company. They had a new drug which needed human testing, and apparently safe. It was stay-in for a week, in nice facilities and I could earn like over a thousand bucks from it. I reported at the facility on the first day, and before taking any of the drugs, I got a call from an employer to start the next day (I'd been interviewing for jobs then). On hindsight, I was probably saved! WTF was I thinking!
So what's the strangest part-time gigs you ever done growing up?