Singapore’s millennials are graduating from tertiary education in uncertain times today. The local job market is at the weakest it has been in the current decade. Amid the cautious hiring outlook, a joint graduate employment survey by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) found that fresh graduates found it harder to land fulltime jobs in 2016. With only 80.2% finding permanent employment within six months, this represented the lowest it has been since the survey was first carried out in 2012.
In addition, local resident unemployment stands at 3.0%, its highest since 2010, and employment growth in the country has slowed to its lowest levels since 2003. At the same time, locals also have to consider the implications of technology and automation reducing manpower needs in some role as well as cope with certain jobs moving overseas due to cost considerations.
Despite this, millennials in Singapore are also graduating from school at an exciting crossroads in the country’s history. They have the ability to chart fulfilling global careers that will continue to elevate Singapore’s standing in the world.
For all the big and aspirational dreams one may have as a young person, it is easy to find yourself procrastinating through school or even feeling comfortable in your first job. To guard against that, here are five tips you can use to start building a meaningful global career today.
#1 Complete an internship, or three
One of the simplest things you can do is take up internships during your school breaks. Apart from gaining relevant job experience that may better place you for future applications, and, of course, a small allowance, an internship will enable you to understand yourself better.
Internships represent opportunities to sample different working environments and the chance to consider if the path you have chosen actually suits you. They also build character and allow you to reflect on the type of worker you currently are, and want to be.
At this stage in your life, you also stand the best chance of landing an overseas internship by leveraging on your school’s internship programmes and contacts or its alumni base.
#2 Take part in activities (in school and in life)
This is another easy win for millennials as school and community activities are usually fun-filled and packed with drama. The obvious benefit here is to put down more “Notable Achievements” on your resume when you finally start applying for jobs.
Beyond that, taking part in school and community activities exposes you to more people and expand your network. Interacting with both like-minded and different people from diverse backgrounds will help you understand yourself better, identify your interests which will impact your career choices.
#3 Try your hand at sales
Whether you’re interning, deciding on a career path or just want to take a gap year, working in sales can present a variety of benefits.
Working in sales pushes you to take the first step in making conversations with potential customers and exposes you to tough situations such as handling difficult customers. By putting yourself in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, you can gauge how well you handle stress or are able think on your feet. By taking the positives from this experience, you can improve yourself as a person.
Beyond that, a sales role allows you to meet and interact with people from all walks of life with all types of characters and perspectives, which will also help build your network for your career in the near future.
#4 Explore your interests
In Singapore, it is almost a sin for students to take a gap year to pursue learning a new skill, such as coding or design, or to opt for an entirely different path midway through their studies. Many do not understand why people would choose to “fall behind their peers in life”.
The truth is that by exploring your interests, you will be more willing to put in the required effort to succeed.
It is also entirely possible to explore your interest without giving up an entire year. If you are in school, you can always choose some electives that you are interested to learn and explore. If you are already working, you can volunteer to take on projects with another department or spearhead new activities at the workplace.
#5 Have a 5-year plan
This isn’t just to nail the classic “where do you see yourself in five years?” interview question.
By jotting down some of the things you want to achieve in your career in five years, you will have a compass to guide yourself when you get mired in everyday life or are bogged down by work.
You should think about what kind of actions you should be taking or skills and languages you should be picking up to reach your goal. This goal can be starting your own business, working in a particular industry or pursuing a career in a certain country.
At the end of the day, lists are created to be destroyed. Your list’s purpose was to prevent you from procrastinating, not to limit you as you pursue new interests in your life and developed new strengths in your career.
Strive for a fulfilling career
Be willing to take some risks with your career or to try something outside your comfort zone. This is easiest to do when you’re still in school or are a new graduate compared to when you are older and have to worry about financial commitments and responsibilities to your family.
Rather than accepting a job based on its salary package or work in jobs that do not challenge you, you should always strive to work at a company you feel you can contribute most, regardless of how tough they work you or how much they pay.
By foregoing some short-term comforts early in your career, you will actually be honing your skills and sharpening your edge as a thoughtful employee. These characteristics will elevate you as a choice worker and equip you with the ability to work in good jobs regardless of the economic climate in any one country.
AIA Singapore offers rewarding career opportunities to motivated individuals aspiring to make a positive difference in people’s lives. It is not just another job.
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This article was contributed to us by AIA Singapore