Just a few months ago, graduate employment surveys conducted with NUS, SMU, NTU, SIT and SUTD showed that 88.9% of graduates were able to secure a full time job within 6 months after obtaining a degree. The statistical weaknesses in the way these surveys were conducted have been widely discussed.
In fact, when we look a little deeper, we will find that many undergraduates do start their job search months before they graduate and have secured a full time job prior to graduation. We hear from 3 fresh graduates to find out how they did it, and how you can start early too.
Citibank Private Banking Analyst
Course of Study: NUS Accountancy
Graduated with: Second Class Honours (Upper Division)
DollarsAndSense (DNS): How did you manage to get this job?
Lennon (L): I got a conversion from an internship at Citibank to a full-time job which will start 2 months following my graduation. It was a 3-month internship during my 3rd year summer break. I applied through the Citibank website, went through 1 phone interview, 1 face-to-face interview and 1 assessment center which included 3 interviews and 1 case assessment.
DNS: Did you take on other internships before this?
L: Yes, I only got converted during my 3rd internship. My first internship was in my 2nd year, with Deloitte as an Audit. I gained a vast exposure to the accounting field of work through this internship. I went back to school, then went for another internship in year 3. This time I joined the Corporate Finance team at Deloitte and got to learn about Merger & Acquisitions deals.
DNS: What are some of the factors that ensured the conversion?
L: It is a must to understand the business and be knowledgeable. Also to be hard working and have good relationships with bosses. Something very important is visibility – you have to share with people, colleagues, bosses and friends what you’re working on and the impact of it. In the short 10 – 12 weeks, the hiring managers need to know that you have been outstanding for them to offer you a conversion.
DNS: Any tips for undergraduates in university who are hoping to get a job before graduation too?
L: Keep an open mind and don’t stress over “getting converted”. Make meaningful and quality connections rather than just many connections. Be brave and take up tough projects so that you can learn and showcase your capabilities. One last thing, always remember that your fellow interns are your friends, not your enemies.
DHL Consulting Management Consultant
Course of Study: NUS Industrial & Systems Engineering with Management
Graduated with: First Class Honours
DNS: Can you share with us how you landed this job?
Timothy (T): I applied for the job online. It started with an online test followed by a phone case interview. I passed both rounds and got invited to a full recruitment day at their office where there were about 4 to 5 case interviews and a nice lunch with the colleagues. This was during the first semester of my 4th year in NUS.
DNS: Did you do any other internships?
T: Yes, I did one with Ministry of Trade and Industry on sector growth research, then two more dealing with Supply Chain Optimization and Supply Chain Technology.
DNS: What do you think is important for undergraduates who are looking to secure a full time job in your industry?
T: I think that intellect and hard work have to go hand in hand. In general, there is an open culture encouraged at work and that makes the bosses very approachable. They also appreciate fresh ideas and are open to discussions regardless of your position. Working flexibility is also definitely required as a consultant due to your client’s needs. There is no ‘face time’ here. For days when work is done, no one will question the time that you leave.
DNS: Were there any hesitations during the process of accepting the offer?
T: There is bound to be because there is no job that will stand out in all factors. It is about knowing what you want and what you can be satisfied with when you are deciding on your job in the future.
DNS: Any tips for people who are unsure about their career decisions?
T: I read industry articles and googled upcoming trends over weekends. This has not only guided me in my career decision but also helped me with the steep learning curve when I first joined. If you are not able to set aside an hour each week to read about the industry, do not expect yourself to be interested in a job that is related to it.
Manufacturing Engineer (Semiconductors)
Course of Study: NUS Mechanical Engineering
Graduating with: Second Class Honours (Lower Division)
DNS: Can you describe how you got your full-time job before graduation?
Sanjan (S): I went for the NUS Career Fair and approached different companies to indicate my interest. A few weeks later, I was then asked to submit my resume and basic details about other projects, activities, background and experience. The company then called me down for 3 interviews conducted on the same day and I was offered the job within a week after the interviews.
DNS: Did you accept the offer immediately?
S: I took about two days to decide. I was wondering whether it is a good choice to commit to a specific industry at such an early stage of my career. There might also be better opportunities out there as well. I ended up accepting anyways because of the salary and location of workplace which was convenient for me.
DNS: Any advice for undergraduates?
S: Start early and send out as many applications as possible. It is always better to have an offer and to make a choice than to have no choice at all. Don’t fear rejection, it is a part and parcel of life. Try out roles that might not suit or may seem too ambitious because you never know if you will like them or even excel in them.
Valuable Lessons For The Rest Of Us
Based on the interviews, we can see that internships are very helpful for undergraduates as opportunities to gain exposure and knowledge in a particular industry. It is also important for you to know where your passion lies at and work hard to prove yourself. All in all, don’t be afraid to try, because you will never know what you are capable of.
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