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Dear 2020 graduate, you’re more than a job-search machine

by Fiona Teh // June 10, 2020, 3:34 am

MORE THAN A JOB SEARCHING MACHINE

If you’re in the Class of 2020, you’re probably experiencing an extreme learning curve right off the bat. You’re entering the job market – or rethinking your pursuit of higher degrees – in these strange, uncertain times.

You’re one out of 48,500 who have graduated this year. And your cohort is not the only group of people in the market for a job.

There are earlier graduates who’ve been looking for a job for months on end, or mid-career switchers who are finding it hard – even with experience – to land a job.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung predicted in a video chat with five #ClassOf2020 graduates from various local institutions that “the job market will be quite soft (for) maybe 6 months to a year”.

But he encouraged the graduates to use their time wisely, continue learning and not give up.

“Because when the market recovers, and it will at some point, your employers will want to see what you did with your time,” he said.

Another piece of good advice I came across at a careers portal is this: “Take time to observe where your industry is heading and consider the complementary know-how that will enhance your effectiveness and productivity at work.”

Graphic design? Programming? Digital analytics?

This will be a lesson in adaptability. Rolling with the punches. Finding alternative ways to get where we want to go.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DAY

While you’re at it, it’s worth remembering that your value is not based on the strength of your CV.

You’re a valuable human being beyond how you look like “on paper”.

The skills and know-how you possess are best are accompanied by important values like kindness and gentleness – both for others and for ourselves – if we’re to go the distance.

Here’s an example of how two young Singaporeans have done that.

Hot on the heels of schools closures and full-fledged Home-Based Learning, Andy Teo, 25 and Quek Hui Ying, 20, separately started their own initiatives to rally volunteer tutors who can give help to students.

It was reported that Andy put out his call (Temporary Academic Assistance) for tutors on April 4 and assembled an army of 250 tutors in just over a week. On Hui Ying’s side, (Covid-19 Tutoring Support for Students), she matched more than 180 students with tutors just a week into the initiative.

TAA ended on June 1, but it is now partnering with a non-profit called SmartGuppy to ensure students can get help until the end of the academic year, while CTSS will continue until November.

That’s super inspiring. And a definite good use of time.

DON’T STRUGGLE ALONE

The things you achieve this season may look completely different from your friends – and that’s okay. 

Maybe you need to take on a part-time job that’s got nothing to do with your degree or passion, to urgently supplement the family income. Or maybe you’re already doing your best to cope with all that’s happening and you need the extra space to figure out your purpose or dreams.

Don’t neglect to take care of your emotional support system, too.

If anything, the heart-crushing weight of loneliness – not feeling understood or cared for – can make weathering this storm that much harder.

Reach out to one or two friends to let them know that you need some support; it can make a world of difference to check in with them regularly.

And to echo Minister Ong’s words: Don’t give up!

Dear 2020 graduate, I know the job hunt is hard

It is difficult to find a job now and there many factors are beyond our control. It’ll do you well not to internalise everything as your personal failure.

There’s no one formula for what you need to be doing, except for what you need to do, and what you can do.

Volunteer if you can. Take up work if you can. Learn a new skill if you can.

GET SOME IDEAS HERE

To help you along, we’ve put together some resources that you can tap too!

Giving.sg

Want to volunteer, donate, support or share? This “one-stop platform” lists opportunities such as being part of the SG Cares Community Cares Network Outreach, where you make calls to check in with pre-identified households.

SkillsFuture courses

Did you already celebrate your 25th birthday? You should have an opening SkillsFuture Credit of S$500 if you haven’t used it already.

On October 1, 2020, you should also be getting a top-up of $500. These additional credits will expire on December 31, 2025.

Design thinking? 3D printing? Pick from any of the eligible courses to use your credits.

Class Central

This is a search engine and reviews site for free, college-level courses! Class Central aggregates the available Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from leading universities and colleges offered on platforms such as edX, Coursera and Udacity. 

Learn anything from Python basics and sound production, to designing presentation slides and social media marketing.  

For more open-access to lectures and videos, you can also check out MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Yale Courses and Stanford e-Corner.

3 things I learned when I couldn’t find a job

TED Talks

Want to take a break from Korean dramas? Or just want to be inspired? Catch up on a TED Talk or two.

What started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design has become a growing movement committed to “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Here’s a sampling of some of the more popular and thought-provoking videos to date: Sir Ken Robinson talks about creating an education system that nurtures creativity, Angela Lee-Duckworth shares her findings on “Grit: the power of passion and perseverance” and Brené Brown educates us on “Listening to shame“.

MyCareersFuture.sg

There’s a whole lot in here! Access virtual Career Fairs, sign up for #SGUnited traineeships, find out which jobs are in-demand by employers (software developers, you’re hot stuff), and get career advice

They also give you tips on preparing for an online interview. #newnormal

Career Advice

Want to speak to a career coach? Submit a request to receive personalised career advice, a resume critique and industry insights. #alsofree

Have more cool resources or a lobang to share? Or just want to encourage a fellow graduate? Leave a comment!

THINK + TALK

  1. Have you taken the time to really think about your purpose in life?
  2. What does a good use of time look like?
  3. How can we we live in a way that looks beyond ourselves and our own needs?
About the author

Fiona Teh

Fiona is low-key hilarious, a dog person, and she loves a good chat with strangers – particularly at Yakun. She also believes that everyone should know that they are absolutely worthy of love.