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My Gap Year: Placement at HSBCMay 09, 2018

Group photo of my team

When I was studying in McGill University as an exchange student, I decided to "pause" my study before my final year. At that time, honestly, I did not know what I should do in the future and I did not want to graduate without any clear picture of my future, which let me feel lost and panic. I knew I have to stop studying and try something different. So I decided to have a gap year to work in Hong Kong.

I spent 10 months working at HSBC, Hong Kong as an Industrial Placement Trainee. I was assigned to the EPS IT team in the Online Banking System department, where I was trained to solve numbers of IT problems and obtained a thorough appreciation of how technology could contribute to a bank system.

EPS processor is a 24x7 critical online application, connected with over 20 member banks to support retail POS transactions, PPS bill payment, bank bill payment and over-the-counter bill payment. In order to make sure the bank cards from a wide range of banks can support the EPS transaction, I was mainly responsible for the card testing on the POS terminals as well as on the simulator which simulates the transaction process on the computer. Additionally, I have to cooperate and communicate with different people such as server manager and IT staff to ensure a successful testing to be performed. Sometimes the transaction would be rejected due to various reasons involving network problem, which would cause the communication timeout, and the incorrect card data, which would cause the card verification failed. Solving those problems indeed improved my problem-solving skills and interpersonal skills, and in turns let me understand more about EPS system.

EPS Terminal Testing Work Station

In particular, I have participated in a project named “pure cash-back project”. “Pure cash-back” could allow users to withdraw cash without buying anything in the convenience store such as Circle K. My main job was to write JCL and COBOL programs to generate transaction reports that can display the pure cash-back transaction details. JCL and COBOL are programming languages that I never used and even never heard before. At that time, I only got 3 weeks to finish the coding and testing, which means I had to learn these two languages quickly and independently. Although I felt great pressure, I still completed my codes on time and successfully finished the health check of my program. Now the pure cashback project was successfully released in Hong Kong and I was really proud of what I have done in this project. Meanwhile, I was really thankful for this experience for pushing me to learn unfamiliar programming languages and for improving my anti-pressure abilities.

This 10 months internship is definitely unforgettable because there were many “first times” of my life happened during my work. I could still remember the first VBA program I wrote to help to generate testing cases for PPS bill payment testing, first time using Linux command to deploy the server, and the first business trip to HKT for the dialling connection test. There is no doubt that the first ever trying would always be difficult and I was glad that I dared to move out of my comfort zone and overcame those challenges during my work.

What I think this placement benefitted me the most was the improvement of my interpersonal skills. Before I joined the HSBC, I was afraid that I could not communicate well with my colleagues because of my poor Cantonese speaking. However, it, in fact, turned out that my colleagues did not mind about my bad Cantonese at all and did not keep away from me. We had lunch together every day and we had great relationships with each other. Meanwhile, the team meeting every two weeks was also a perfect opportunity for me to study Cantonese. Now I can speak Cantonese fluently, which let me feel more intergrated into this city.

Farewell Picutre

Now, I am gonna say something honestly. I have to admit that I have learned a lot, though, I did not like this job quite lot. BasicaLly I repeated finishing the same tasks everyday, every week. Well I could even imagine my life would be boring if I do this kind of job in my future, and I knew I would never wanna live in that way. I have to do something that I love. It is not about money, not about fame. it is just all about interests. I appreciated this 10 months causes me a sense of crisis and let me know what kinds of life I wanna have. I am gonna reference a Chinese sentence from one of my favorite books to be the ending.

“我真正恐惧的是一成不变的生活,即使它建立在世界上最美丽的地方,即使它意味着富足与安稳。这一切仿佛早已写在我的基因里,唯有变化能让我满足。充满不确定的明天才是明天,命运的多舛无常和无法预知才是最美妙的探险。” —— 《泛若不系之舟》傅真