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  • Writer's pictureSzymon Bielecki

On to the Next: Transitions in Taiwan

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

Szymon Bielecki, a 26 year old Polish National, has lived in Taiwan for 7 years. During this time, he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree from a Taiwanese university, landed his first full-time job as a headhunter, and has now transitioned to a Marketing position at a large Taiwanese electronics company. For those new to Taiwan, or for those who want to understand how to make successful transitions in Taiwan, there’s lots to learn from Szymon’s example.

My journey in Taiwan started in August 2013, when as a 17-year-old kid I landed at Taoyuan Airport to complete a year-long exchange program. A year in Taipei made me fall in love with Taiwan so deeply that I could not imagine not returning here.

Fast forward eight years and I’ve been here for nearly one-fourth of my life. Previously, I worked as a headhunter at a large international corporation. Currently, I am a Content Marketing Specialist at BenQ, a large Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. This is my second full-time job I’ve had in Taiwan since graduating in 2019. So how did I get to where I am?

Student Life

Once, over coffee, I was asked by a Taiwanese friend, “How did you manage to land a full-time position at a large, international corporation right after graduation? Your degree isn’t from one of the more prestigious Taiwanese universities, such as NCCU or NTU. What’s your trick?”

I know it’s a massive cliche, but there is no trick: there are no replacements for hard work. My student years were not the easiest or most pleasant years of my life. There were no scholarships available for undergraduate students from Poland at the time, so at some point during my third or fourth year in university, I had six part time jobs; some I took for the money, others I took to build up my CV. Of course, I also had to stay on top of my school grades as well.

When my classmates were really enjoying themselves on their lucrative government scholarships, I was working my butt off. I missed most parties, events, gatherings, and other social events. I don’t think I had many friends at that point, but I was focused on my goal. I wanted to have a “proper” job that led to a good career, and I wanted to stay in Taiwan – I didn’t want to choose between the two.

One of my part-time jobs was a paid internship at the world’s largest staffing agency. For a year, I was being groomed to become what is known as a headhunter, or more officially, a Talent Acquisition Consultant, with a focus on the manufacturing and semiconductor industries. The story of how I got the job is a little funny. During my third year of uni, I was applying for internships. I landed an interview at Microsoft, which was handled by the recruitment agency where I later worked. After returning home, I googled the recruitment agency, checked their openings, and found a year-long internship program, which I applied for.

A year later, upon completion of the internship at the staffing agency, I was told that it was my attitude that got me the job. Apparently the person who ended up being my mentor and manager saw me as entrepreneurial, persistent, open, and willing to learn and work hard, all of which caused her to go against her own boss’s disapproval of me and give me the job.

Actually, my manager defended me yet another time: Upon completion of the year-long internship, my manager stood up for me again and got the agency to offer me a full time position on her team.

Start of The Career – Headhunting

This company had never hired a foreigner in Taiwan who needed a work permit. I had to do at least as much research as our HR team. And I must give credit where it’s due – the All Hands Taiwan article on the points system probably made the difference between HR giving up and actually starting the paperwork. It’s definitely a must-read for all the international students here! 

After I began working, I specialized in mid- and high-level technical and corporate positions at tech companies, with a focus on consumer electronics and semiconductors. I served mostly local companies with international hiring needs, and international clients with staffing needs in Taiwan. Doing this helped me play to my strengths”. What do I mean by that?

As international talent in Taiwan, we will often be at a disadvantage in the job search, especially for entry-level business positions. And at large international companies? Good luck. An important part of job searching is to find something that you can do (o