This article was originally published on 16 March 2017. Additional information updated by Angela Koo.
With a gap of 8 months from the end of JC life to the start of university, JC students have plenty of time to recharge from their exam-induced stress. This year, with travelling suspended (due to COVID-19) and social gatherings restricted, you may find yourself with too much time on your hands once you finished binge-watching your favourite TV series. For those who are already thinking ahead, you may be fretting about the hard time fresh graduates have this year getting a job.
Regardless of whether you are here to get a head start, get out of your parents’ hair or just get some extra cash, here are 5 (new) meaningful jobs that you can consider to keep yourself occupied and to earn an income at the same time.
# 1 Barista
It may be cliché but coffee-making skills are nothing to be sniffed about in the working world. With all your colleagues addicted to caffeine, being an expert about coffee and having the barista skills to brew a perfect cuppa can make you a great addition to the team.
More importantly, as a barista, you learn all the soft skills of great customer service, how to handle difficult customers (and future clients) and the art of observation and small talk. With many business deals and job interviews carried out over a coffee chat, you will be in a great position to observe and learn what makes for a successful coffee chat. These are all soft skills that are not taught yet important to learn. If well-utilised, your time as a barista will set you up for future success in forming connections with strangers (and networking).
Whether you are a waiter in a fine-dining restaurant, a waitress serving at a wedding banquet or a service staff bussing the tables in a family restaurant, being a waitstaff will teach you the in and outs of a food and beverage (F&B) business and how to handle yourself as frontline staff.
The same customer service skills that you learn waitressing are all critical to good people interaction. Learning how to keep your cool while handling a difficult situation will benefit you for life. Being able to handle difficult people (clients, customers, stakeholders) is critical to many jobs including sales, marketing, public relations, human resources and consulting. Even back-end functions such as accounting will have occasions where they need to manage difficult people.
If you are observant, the industry can teach you valuable lessons such as how businesses are run and how you can deal with difficult customers. Your stint as a waiter may also disabuse you of your dream to open a café once you realise the amount of pressure and stress a F&B business owner face or spur you to be even more resilient as a F&B owner.
#3 Referee Or Coach
If you are a keen sportsperson and want to continue your sports participation, consider taking a job as a referee or a coach.
To be a Class 3 Assistant Referee, you will need to pass the interview and complete the Referee Basics Course by Football Association of Singapore. For those who love football, this can be an interesting path to take as you will be able to officiate in youth, grassroots and friendly matches.
If you are interested in coaching, you can apply to be a provisional coach registered with the National Registry Of Coaches (NROC) if you have the relevant experience playing or coaching the sport and complete the required certificates: valid Standard First Aid (SFA) including Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Certificate and Values and Principles in Sport (VPS) Certificate. The provisional membership allows aspiring sport coaches to participate in activities to improve their coaching practice and counts towards the requirements of a full NROC membership.
With sportsmanship being a sought-after quality in team players, your stint as a referee or coach can also bolster your resume and make you stand out from others.
Avid swimmers can apply to be a certified lifeguard by Singapore Life Saving Society after completing the Lifesaving 123 and Bronze Medallion Award courses. Similar to coaches, you are required to have a valid Standard Adult First Aid included AED certificate when you apply. If you are thinking of being a lifeguard at a condominium pool or a public swimming pool, you may also need to pass an additional Pool Lifeguard Award Course.
Focus and vigilance are qualities of a lifeguard that translates well into the workplace. Your lifeguarding experience not just suggests that you will look out for your team-mates but also speaks to your focus and dedication to purpose.
#5 Freelance Graphics Designer / Video Editor / Content Producer
If you love to create content whether it is graphics, audio, photos, videos or articles, consider freelancing. A beautifully curated Instagram feed, a lively YouTube or TikTok channel, a buzzing Spotify podcast or a thought-provoking blog are all media assets that form your portfolio.
A freelance arrangement will help you identify whether your passion for content creation will continue even after you make your passion your job. You can source for ad-hoc job assignments on a variety of freelancer platforms. For added bonus, try contacting your favourite small, independent and/ or local brands and ask if they would consider working with you on a freelance basis. Who knows, maybe this will lead to a more permanent job offer?
Bonus: Here are our previous job picks.
# 6 Internship & Admin Jobs
There are tons of opportunities out there. For example, some startups are happy to welcome JC students.
If you’re unsure about your future plans, feel free to work at any company of interest because every experience is valuable. The world is much more complex than the gilded school environment.
We spoke to a student doing her internship at a flower shop, not to grow flowers but to do marketing and collaborations with cafes, spas and restaurants. Business development, she said, is useful for any future career. Ultimately, she learned transferable skills such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), setting up online shops and fulfilling online orders. If you’re into coding, there are internships where you learn to extract customer information and create websites from scratch.
Thinking of working in government agencies and statutory boards? You can apply for their internships too by contacting them directly.
Admin jobs, or temporary staff jobs, differ from internships in that the job scope of an admin staff might be narrower. That said, it doesn’t mean you will learn less. Accounting firms offer jobs such as retrieving and checking data. Ultimately, if you can prove to your employer that you are capable of doing more, they will expose you to more opportunities.
If the company you’re interested in does not post recruitment advertisements for interns, you can still try to contact them directly. There’s no harm trying.
# 7 Retail Part-timer
Retail jobs are equally rewarding if you take your job seriously. A student working at Abercrombie and Fitch shares with us:
“A&F has a monthly staff evaluation (that I failed the first time round). I was asked, “if a customer asks you for a fresh smelling fragrance, which would you recommend?” But all the fragrances smell the same to me so what on earth is a “fresh” smell?”
She learnt from another associate that “working at A&F is like going to school – you have to mug your product knowledge and then you get tested on it. It reflects very badly on you when you’re unsure. It’s not something you can easily hide in front of customers.”
Be prepared to answer other wild questions such as “show me the most exclusive and expensive item in this store!” and stand for long hours. Of course, you’re rewarded with staff discounts.
You can apply directly to brands you’re interested in.
# 8 Start Your Own Business
We all had moments where we wished hard that Singapore sold something that we were looking for. Why not be the one to make the change?
Starting your own business is not as hard as you think. We spoke to a Carousell seller who earns $400 – $500 per month by importing goods from Taobao and repackaging them.
She advises interested students to “do your research and know the market. Price your items at the lower price to build a following base. Price them higher if you’re busy and unable to deal with too many orders.” A tip is to keep updating your profile with items and update old listings to keep your account active.”
An online business will teach you how to manage your bank accounts and how to develop mailing and pricing strategies. Ecommerce is an up-and-coming industry so there is no harm learning the basics of it.
Make your own art pieces, design some unique jewelry or create your own food item and you’re good to go! People we interviewed told us that they learnt first hand labeling, packaging, designing and price setting.
# 9 Be The Teacher You Loved
Schools sometimes allow ex-students to stand in as part-time teachers or relief teachers. If you love a certain subject so much, or can’t get enough of going to school, get involved in spreading your love and inspiring your students.
A part time teacher told us: “The most fulfilling part about teaching is having the opportunity to impact my students the way my teachers impacted me. I’ve had very good physics teachers all through secondary school and JC, so I aim to be as good as them.”
Instead of discussing how to answer a question, you’ll be discussing how best to teach the question. Also be prepared to have students a year, or even months younger than you awkwardly bowing to you.
Alternatively, consider being a tuition teacher for children from low-income families.
Spend Your Time Wisely
Having a stretch of 6 months or more where you are free to do whatever you want without the stress of studying, getting the right internship or finding a full-time is a luxury that doesn’t happen often in Singapore.
Aside from working, there are so many more things you can do with the precious free time.
You can pick up a new sport, travel with your friends, run a marathon, contribute articles to the newspaper and websites, or even start a community project. But remember, don’t forget to spend time with your family as well.