Where are they now? Eyan Chan (Year 12 2008).

In Year 12, Eyan never saw an international career in her future.
In Year 12, Eyan never saw an international career in her future.

When she was in Year-12, Eyan never saw an international marketing career in her future. She says, “I had all sorts of random ideas. At one point I wanted to be a vet, but I knew I wouldn’t have the marks. My HSC result was okay, but to be honest, I really only got serious in Year 12. Maybe that was a bit late to start being studious,” she says, laughing.

When some girls from her high school, Kambala, were considering the Diploma of Communication at UTS College, Eyan decided to join them. “Why not do that for a year? It seemed to cover a lot, and there was a qualification at the end. I’d always been interested in Communications and Media. It was a good way to test it out before committing to a degree,” she says.

Personal, friendly and fun
“UTS College felt very personal, friendly and fun. We had the same teacher nearly every day. It was like high school in some ways, but in a college setting where the work was more practical. We did a lot of group work, business cases and presentations together, which helped our communication skills.”

At the end of the diploma, her friends split off in various directions. Eyan says, “One went to fashion school, another went straight to work, but I wanted to keep going to the Bachelor of Communication. I was thinking of my future – in case I wanted to get into bigger corporate jobs or work overseas. And it was only two and a half more years with credits from my diploma.”

A confidence-boosting experience
UTS is where she blossomed as a web designer. “I always focused on web and database work. Even in high school, IPT – Information Processing Technology – was my favourite class. I loved designing websites, creating with HTML and things like that,” she says. “Then at UTS I remember getting a high distinction for something I created. It was my first high distinction ever, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m actually good at this.’ That boosted my confidence.”

During her last few months at university, Eyan was accepted into a cultural exchange program with Disney in Orlando Florida. “You get to work at Disney for six months or a year. You can do all sorts of jobs, with people from all over the world.” When her UTS graduation took place, she was already in the USA. “But I was still proud to have completed my UTS degree,” she says.

From Shanghai to Frankfurt to Amsterdam
The six-months at Disney was Eyan’s first time overseas. After that she rented a car and travelled the USA. She says, “I still wasn’t ready to go home, so my Mum said, ‘Why don’t you move to Shanghai to improve your Chinese?’ I had an Auntie in Shanghai I could stay with. My Chinese wasn’t very good then, but I got a job teaching English in a kindergarten.”

After a year, Eyan’s Mandarin had improved enough to move into a job related to her degree. “A French-English school reached out to me with a marketing opportunity. I worked there for a year and a half, doing their website and content for articles and social media.”

Shanghai is also where Eyan met her partner. “He’s German,” she says, “and we moved to Frankfurt together. I worked there with a hotel chain where I became the marketing coordinator. I moved into memberships and loyalty programs, specialising in Customer Relationship Management (CRM).”

Three years later, ready to move again, Eyan took a CRM position in Amsterdam with Booking.com. She says, “This job was more related to databases – looking for ways to improve the features and functionality of the system. It used a lot of skills I learnt at university.”

A spicy side-hustle
Eyan is also an enthusiastic cook, and while working from home during COVID, she started a side-hustle. “I began selling my homemade chilli oil online. I created the marketing for it, the website, and Instagram social. The brand is called Chilli Chans. It’s gone viral on Instagram and everything. My dream is to have it stocked in supermarkets and cafes.”

Her current position is with Adidas in Amsterdam. “They’d launched a membership program and needed help rolling it out into European markets,” she says. “It’s been seven months and I’m loving it. I always wanted to get into the sport industry. I don’t think I could ever have imagined a job like this back in Sydney.”

No regrets
Reflecting on her career so far, Eyan says, “I think moving abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made. Moving countries every few years grew me as a person.” If she could time-travel to 2008 and advise her younger self, Eyan says she’d tell her: “Don’t stress yourself over what to study. Just because you pick a certain degree doesn’t mean it’s what you’ll be doing in 10 or 20 years. Go with the flow and follow your gut feeling.”