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It would not be an overstatement to say that many fresh university graduates have seen their initial plans for 2020 ruined by COVID-19. Post-graduation trips were cancelled, job offers were rescinded and graduation ceremonies had to be postponed. Most critically, the class of 2020 is entering the job market during what is considered the worst recession since Singapore’s independence.
Rather than wait for the pandemic to be over, here are some proactive steps fresh graduates can and should take now to better prepare themselves for job opportunities in the post-COVID-19 world.
#1 Take On Internship Opportunities
Getting a full-time job may be difficult during this period, but it shouldn’t stop you from searching for opportunities in sectors or roles that you are interested in.
While some companies may not have openings for full-time positions, internship opportunities are still available for those willing to accept them. As a fresh graduate, you stand a better chance of getting an internship because 1) you can take the position anytime during the year, compared to students who can only do so during term breaks, 2) you can work for a longer period of time and 3) you are immediately available for conversion into a full-time employee, or are able to extend your stint. These are advantages that you have over undergraduates and you should capitalise on them to land your desired internship role.
Internships are useful as they add valuable experiences to your CV and enable you to be in a better position yourself to join the company full-time. This is because many companies prefer hiring people that they have worked well with previously, and they consider this before they even advertise the role.
As an intern, you will stand a higher chance of landing a full-time job if you can impress the company during your internship.
#2 Pursue Further Education
Pursuing further education always comes with an opportunity cost. For those who have already started their careers, even pursuing programmes with great relevance to the workplace, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), means either having to study part-time (and dealing with intense workloads) or pausing their work (and forgoing income).
During good economic conditions, this could mean giving up a high-paying job, opportunities for promotion or prized work assignments in exchange for further education.
Given the limited opportunities in the job market currently, pursuing further education first may be a viable option for you to consider.
For example, Birmingham City University has a 12-month International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) programme, which is offered by Kaplan in Singapore for degree-holders looking to further their education. This programme is designed to meet the needs of contemporary international businesses and blends academic excellence and professional expertise, equipping students with marketable skills to operate and excel at strategic levels across different sectors and in different countries.
The programme has a strong emphasis on employability and enhancing employability skills, and it will help you develop general communication and interpersonal skills. Possible career opportunities stated by Kaplan in Singapore include Marketing Manager, Financial Manager, Product Manager and Business Development Manager.
Students who complete this programme will be awarded the International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) qualification from Birmingham City University, and this Master’s Degree is identical to that awarded to the on-campus graduates.
The advantage that Kaplan in Singapore offers is that, even though global travel has come to a standstill, students can continue with their curriculum with little or no disruption as the institution has shifted many of its programmes to full online learning. This was implemented as a precautionary measure against the pandemic and will remain in effect for the foreseeable future until the situation around COVID-19 improves. So, whether you are an existing student or a new student enrolling in an MBA programme in 2020, you can be assured that you will be able to complete your studies on time.
We need to stress that formal education isn’t a golden ticket to getting a good job. In the working world, attitude, teachability and, ultimately, your ability to perform your role well and to work effectively within teams is what prospective companies will be looking out for.
That said, it would be a misconception to think that education isn’t important. Especially in Singapore, where many employers still value the knowledge and rigour that formal education provides, among other criteria, when making hiring decisions.
The only difference in today’s world is that, by itself, formal education isn’t necessarily enough. If you have the time and opportunity to improve your future employment prospects, you shouldn’t let 2020 just slip by you.
#3 Pick Up New Skills
It is common for graduates to miss job opportunities in their desired sectors due to skills gaps in their CV. For example, an IT student who wants to work in digital marketing may realise that they need to have data analytics skills to get the job they want.
2020 is a good year to acquire knowledge and certifications. Online learning is available for graduates to take courses from home. Those aged 25 and above can use their SkillsFuture credits to pay for a wide range of SkillsFuture-approved courses.
While these courses are not a substitute for the right experience, they can introduce you to the basics of what you need to know, as well as help you demonstrate your passion for your chosen field to potential employers.
If you wanted to build your skills in ICT, Kaplan offers industry-recognised certification courses in ethical hacking and Blockchain. Learn the foundation, technique and practical application of these technologies in 5 days. As long as you have the basic IT knowledge, you do not need to worry as you will be mentored by industry experts. What’s more, eligible trainees qualify for CITREP+ course fee support* of up to 90%.
*Terms & conditions apply. Visit go.gov.sg/tesacitrep for more details on funding categories.
#4 Consider SGUnited Traineeships Programme
First announced during the Resilience Budget and expanded during the Fortitude Budget, the SGUnited Traineeships Programme aims to provide 25,000 traineeship positions of up to 12 months. Through this programme, the government will co-fund 80% of the training allowance for graduates, with the remaining 20% paid by the host company.
As a university graduate, you can earn a monthly training allowance of up to $2,500. There are no CPF contributions, which means that it’s comparable to what your take-home salary would be if you have a full-time job paying you a gross salary of $3,125. The programme is only applicable for Singaporeans and PRs who graduated from ITE, Polytechnics or Universities in 2019 and 2020.
SGUnited Traineeships are an excellent way for you to explore the industry that you wish to join. Even if you don’t end up landing a full-time job with your host company upon completion of the traineeship programme, the relevant experiences you would have gained over the 12-month period would give you a better chance of landing a full-time job in the same industry.
Applications for the programme are open from now till 31 December 2020.
#5 Volunteering For A Cause
Volunteering at a charity organisation or social enterprise is a good way to show your support for a worthwhile cause.
Many such organisations support groups of people in need. Giving.sg has a central giving page to make it easy for people to find and contribute to the various charities that are helping communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Besides donating cash or in-kind items, you can also help these charities by offering your time and skills. This will help charity organisations and social enterprises during this period, where they may need to reach out to more people while possibly finding themselves operating at a lower efficiency level due to strict social distancing requirements. For example, rather than having residents come to a centralised location to collect essential items, some organisations may prefer to go door-to-door.
Volunteering at a charity or social enterprise will also allow you to better understand the organisation’s objectives and allow you to be more involved in what they do. At the same time, you get to do something meaningful, while also adding valuable real-life experiences to your CV, which could show potential employers that you are not afraid to invest your time into purposeful projects and initiatives that you believe in.
Consider Available Options
Sitting back and waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over and the economy to recover isn’t good enough. If you have the time, opportunity and desire, you can consider one or more of the steps above to put yourself in pole position to land your desired job.
To prepare yourself better for the job opportunities available in the post-covid world, check out this infographic by DollarsAndSense: