After over 20 years of rushing assignments and mugging for papers, you’ll heave a euphoric sigh of relief that you’ve finally graduated. Then come the questions from friends, lecturers, and family: “So what’re going to do next?” or “Have you applied for jobs yet?”
For some, you’ve got your ideal path charted out for yourself – good on you! But for many, those questions are as dreadful as the “why are you still single” questions at every family gathering, because honestly, you don’t really know.
In the case that you’re stepping out into the ‘working world’, you do have interests of course. You’re keen to learn and grow in a job somewhere, somehow. Yet, you’re filled with doubts.
Whether you’ve just graduated and feeling lost, or (like me) have been unsure and hopping from one job to another, know that that’s fine. There’re many Singaporeans who’ve gone through this phase as well, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re flaky.
We reached out to 5 Singapore millennials, who shared their journey in finding themselves and their career path.
“Time is so important, so do something you truly find satisfaction in.”
I don’t think I had any idea of what I really wanted to do after graduation.
I went into procurement, HR, and corporate services on my first job, which wasn’t something I expected to be doing at all since I studied Sociology. I then moved on to PR, and today I’m an editor at an online publication.
Switching between jobs is something pretty common among peers, and it’s not because we’re ‘soft’ or anything. We’re just taking more time to find a path that truly suits us. I have switched to different work scopes myself, as I was finding a field I could truly excel and find satisfaction in.
Personally, I leave the moment I feel like I’m stagnating, because time is so important. And after going through three jobs, I kind of know where I find the most job satisfaction and which path I can embark on.
Don’t be afraid to try different jobs, but always know what you’re looking for in the long term and work towards it. Don’t waste yours, or anyone else’s time.
– Melissa, 27, Graduated 2013, on the 3rd job
“Everyone’s got a different mindset, so don’t get pressured by others”
Since I graduated with a degree in Banking and Finance, I’ve changed three jobs and am on my fourth now.
I was a bank teller for a year and a service ambassador for another. Afterthat, I taught at an enrichment centre – I used to give tuition during my poly days and I love kids. It was a fulfilling two years before I joined Singapore Airlines as a stewardess.
I am a mortgage broker today and my job is to find the best private home loan for homeowners.
One of my reasons for switching jobs is to seek new challenges in life. I also felt that I needed to explore different careers before settling on one.
I feel that everyone has a different mindset. My parents, spouse, friends, and colleagues have all been very supportive and they would encourage me to go for what I want instead of staying stagnant. However, there were interviewers I met who’d comment on how I changed jobs too quickly and that my experience in different industries varies too much (to be useful).
Take your time to find the right career. Your first job may not be your last. Learn as much as you can from every job.
Lastly, don’t get pressured by anyone, just follow your heart.
– Patrina, 27, Graduated 2014, on the 4th job
“If You Are Unsure, Just Try Everything.”
I wanted to be a Radio DJ when I started studying Mass Communication in poly, but my interest pivoted to advertising while there and that stuck until when I was in uni.
I got an internship in events management when I left uni, and stayed on in events for about 3 years in 3 different companies. I eventually left in 2016 to pursue something entirely different: standup comedy.
I am currently freelancing as an AV crew and emcee, but it’s more to feed myself while I pursue standup comedy. Ultimately, I see standup as my long-term goal.
My parents weren’t too pleased with my hopping around from one job to another. They’d say that prospective employers will think I’m not loyal or capable enough to stay in a company. And I do agree.
I’ve had bosses who would tend to comment things like, “aiya, all these young kids now like that one la” whenever a (millennial) colleague leaves the company. I think it’s normal for older generations to ‘compare’ and stereotype because we all do. Concurrently, I do think there are people our generation who are pampered.
If you are unsure, just try everything. Within my limited scope of experience, I feel there are only two types of people who won’t succeed: Lazy people who blame everything on everyone else. And close-minded people who are unwilling to accept change or criticism.
Go into every job with an open mind. You never know where it will lead you and what you may suddenly find interest in.
As the Chinese saying goes, “船到桥头自然直”, which translates to mean ‘when the boat reaches the harbour, it will naturally go straight’. In other words, everything will be alright.
– Eugene Soh, 26, Graduated 2015, on the 3rd job
“You’ll Learn More About Yourself Along The Way”
I only vaguely knew what I liked but had no concrete idea of what I wanted to do after I graduate. Not counting the first internship, I’m on my third job after graduation in 2013.
From the different jobs that I have done, I learnt a lot more about what I enjoyed and what I wanted to dedicate myself to. And honestly, once you experience the joy of doing something that you truly like, it changes how you view work.
I did Sociology in school, started working in the community sector, and now I’m on my second job in the arts industry. And even now, there are still many things that I want to try.
Remember that who you are isn’t only reflected by how well you do at work. There’s a lot more that makes up who you are as a person. So it’s okay to not know what you want to do. Just keep trying new things and you’ll learn more about yourself along the way.
– Michelle, 27, Graduated 2013, on the 3rd job
“You Will Eventually Find Your Path”
I wanted to become a pre-school teacher when I was young. I even took an early childhood education cert before my Diploma in Business Admin. But after a 3-month internship, I realised it wasn’t something I could do for a long time.
At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I just did whatever gave me a better salary. I was practical. But I always find myself getting bored after a year or less.
After Poly, I jumped from being a Distributor Support Representative to a Sales Coordinator to a Bank Assistant in an IT dept to doing admin work at another bank.
I finally found my career path on my fifth job, in events management. It’s a job that constantly challenges me to innovate and improve, and that gives me great satisfaction, especially when I hear feedback from all the happy clients I work for.
You don’t have to worry or think too much about switching jobs.
What you’re studying now may not apply to what you’re going do in the real world and work experiences are way more important.
Your first job may not be what you like to do and you may end up feeling lost. But it’s just part and parcel of our life. Eventually, you will find a job you like – I did.
– Kristin, 29, Graduated 2009, on the 5th job
“Don’t Be Afraid To Explore”
One thing for sure, you shouldn’t be afraid to dabble in different things. At the end of the day, if you’re going to be spending all those hours working to survive, make your time worthwhile – do something meaningful for you.
Admittedly, we are a generation blessed with a lot more opportunities and possibilities than our moms and dads. So, what better way to take advantage of that than to go forth and explore!