If you had a choice between doing an internship at one of the most prestigious financial news outlets in New York or working at a bakery operated by a social enterprise in Chicago, which would you choose?
The answer for entrepreneur Francesca Chia was not as simple as the two experiences shaped her into the person she is today. While studying in the US, Chia recounts one particularly enlightening experience where she wrote her dissertation on how social enterprises can use upskilling as a means to reduce unemployment. She volunteered to work at the Sweet Miss Giving bakery to conduct her research. There, she was humbled by the dedication shown by a homeless man who always began his work shift an hour earlier, remaining focused and dedicated to the task at hand.
Her experience at the bakery contrasted with her internship in New York, where she worked behind a help desk and observed the company culture where employees regularly grab coffee, snacks and chit-chat throughout the day.
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In Chia’s view, today’s labour market has a lot of frictions and inefficiencies as job applicants are judged based on their academic qualifications alone. “That experience opened my eyes as it taught me that you shouldn’t judge a person by their academic results. I believe that everyone should be treated equally and have an opportunity to prove themselves. These are values I carry with me to this day,” she says.
Inspired to make a positive impact in the community, she left her full-time job of four years at Boston Consulting Group in 2014 to start GoGet at age 26, an on-demand service that connects gig workers, called GoGetters, with jobs offered by businesses and individuals.
“We want to change that narrative to the point where there are more flexible arrangements afforded to people, and they don’t necessarily need to work in a cubicle to earn a living,” she says.