Men in non-traditional occupation:
An investigation on the salesmen in cosmetics industry

- Yuen Ching Yee

Conducting the Honours Project is one of the most unforgettable learning experiences in my university life. To begin with, I would like to give a brief introduction of my project, “Men in non-traditional occupation: An investigation on the salesmen in cosmetics industry. In my research, I have investigated the working experience of the cosmetics salesmen in Hong Kong and examined whether they have developed any strategies to fit in the non-traditional occupation. Also, this project has exposed how male salesmen emphasize their uniqueness as men and has explored the reasons for them to enter the beauty industry. I found this research interesting and meaningful because cosmetics salesmen are not the common research target in the “gender and work” academic field and my research findings were quite different from what have been suggested by other scholars.

Instead of investigating the general features of the cosmetics salesmen, this research is designed primarily to shed light on the uniqueness of the cosmetics salesmen through examining their working experiences. Thus, a qualitative research was conducted, in particular through interviews. Conducting interviews could help me know more about the experiences and feelings of the cosmetics salesmen which can be rarely reported by statistics or figures. During the interviews, I could observe the facial expressions and the reactions of the interviewees that reflect their attitude towards their work. Also, I could ask them follow-up questions for further information.

Throughout the whole research process, I have faced several difficulties, yet, I can learn much through overcoming them. At the beginning, I was confused about what research I want to do and how to set a good research topic. I thought about that again and again, and finally came up with a brief idea after taking into account daily observations. Since I am interested in gender issues and I like putting on makeup, I decided to combine these two interesting elements together to form a research topic. However, things did not go as smooth as I imagined. The title was too board and it involved some complicated terms, therefore, a refinement was needed. I tried to read more relevant academic journals and books as my supervisor suggested and use more precise wordings to search for relevant articles. By doing so, I got clearer of what I intended to do and thus I could finalize the project title. With these experience, I suggest that students who will be doing the Honours Project can design the research topics taking into consideration their interests through daily observation if they are confused about how to start a research.

Apart from the difficulty I had at the beginning stage of the project, linking up the ideas between literature and my findings is also a challenge for me. I found that my literature review and findings do not have a strong linkage; rather, they are like two different parts from two different papers. To solve this problem, I tried to compare previous research and my findings by looking at their similarities and differences. Eventually, I learnt that linking up the literature and the discussion is very important in a research. We are inspired to have certain topics through reviewing literature, but more importantly, we get to establish significance of our research and contribute to the research field.

Although I could overcome different difficulties to successfully conduct this research after all, I found that there were other important elements to make the process smoother. First, a good time management enhances the smooth execution of my plan since the research was conducted step by step. I had a clear time framework for my project management, i.e. when to invite the interviewees, to conduct interviews with them one by one and to analyse their responses, so I could manage my other group projects and assignments simultaneously. As a result, the stress to rush is reduced even though it is unavoidable that I had to sacrifice some entertainment time.

Other than that,what worked closely with the time management is my self-disciplinary. The time framework will be nothing more than a useless plan if we do not discipline ourselves to follow it. During the process, I kept reminding myself to stick to what I have planned to do and set different deadlines for myself even though sometimes I wanted to leave it all aside because I was tired or I just did not want to face the difficulties. I knew that procrastination could not make things any better. If I left them all for tomorrow, the problems will not simply be solved and my pressure could not berelieved. The only solution is to force myself to face the reality and I realised that things were not as hard as I imagined and I could finish my research project on schedule.

In addition, it is also important to contact my supervisor actively. In the process of conducting the project, the supervisors would not contact their students frequently to check their processes and see how things go. What I have to do is contact my supervisor by myself from time to time. If I did not see my supervisor, I might not be able to solve my difficulties efficiently and receive useful advice to improve my research skills.

Although it is not easy to go through the whole process, I am happy to have completed the Honours Project. Apart from gaining new knowledge, I am satisfied about my improvement throughout the process. At the very beginning, I was very confused and a bit stressed because of the difficultés I faced. However, I could successfully overcome all the obstacles and enhance my analytical skills. Even though my project may not be the best one, I am still satisfied because at least I have tried my best to complete it.