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I Took a Job Outside My Degree. This is What I Learned.

The whole job search (or rather, soul searching) process for me started during the earlier years of university!

In a sense, I did not enjoy working in a lab from past internships as I felt it was too monotonous and lacking in social interaction, so I ventured into policy work and life sciences marketing internships. I realised that I preferred work related to market research and analysis, as well as improving my business acumen skills. Placed within a competitive and fast-paced environment, I felt some sort of motivation and drive being in a commercial role.

I knew then inherently that there were three things I valued in a job:

  1. One that challenges me each day;
  2. A job which is aligned with my values; and
  3. A job which allows me to collaborate.

From there, I carefully pinpointed certain roles I was attracted to (such as commercial roles within the life sciences space, and outside of it – with the idea of broadening my horizons). The process was quite arduous as some companies were unsure that I was able to do the job, given several factors (e.g. experience, education background) but I persevered through the countless number of rejections instead to further improve myself.

In the end, I chose to become an associate at the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and I hope to be a part of the healthcare team.

I think that moving into a job outside of the life sciences space is not difficult as the skills I’ve picked up along the way from my education, such as being analytical (through lab studies) and exercising critical thinking have helped me very much power through my current role at EDB.

The most valuable lesson I learnt from job searching during my final year at NUS was definitely perseverance. I reflected upon each rejection on what I did well and the areas I needed to improve on.

My career advisors at the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates helped me to deep-dive into key strengths, as well as reveal the blind spots that I could avoid during our mock interviews and resume / cover letter vetting.

Three key tips that I would share with fresh graduates seeking employment amid COVID-19:

  1. Start job searching early. I started as early as August 2019 where the hiring window was still relatively stable then and when graduate programmes were opening
  2. Don’t fear rejection - take it as an opportunity to learn
  3. Prepare intensively and seek guidance. There are blind spots that we cannot see for ourselves, so reach out to your career advisor and establish awareness of your strengths and weaknesses

By Tiffany Yong, (Science, '20), Associate, Singapore Economic Development Board

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