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Sector Areas of Work
Supply Chain: Graduate Area of Work
A career in supply chain involves the process of getting consumer products onto shelves from start to finish.
Supply chain oversees the product journey, from raw material to supply of the finished product to the point of sale. It is essential to have a supply chain with a high level of service, quality and efficiency in order to meet the needs of the consumers while actively enhancing the company’s profitability.
Due to the high volume and speed of production in this sector, graduates in this field will be able to experience working in a demanding and fast-paced commercial environment.
However, it will also give graduates the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles by researching and implementing methods that can reduce environmental impact throughout the product journey as the industry works toward meeting corporate responsibility and sustainability goals.
Major FMCG companies offer graduate schemes designed to introduce graduates to different aspects of the supply chain. The graduate programme typically lasts for a year or two and involves rotations across different areas of the supply chain, such as procurement, demand planning and logistics.
Graduate roles may range from purchasing raw materials to customer service and distribution. As a graduate with a role in purchasing, you may be expected to analyse markets, assess suppliers, and prepare and carry out negotiations with them.
You are also required to manage data about your transactions to be used in project management and price forecasting, especially if you are working on supply management or strategic purchasing.
If you are placed in customer service and distribution, your responsibility will include warehousing, overseeing transport arrangements, managing shelf availability as well as ensuring the timely delivery of products.
On the other hand, if you end up being placed in supply chain planning, you will be required to liaise with the different functions in the business to lock down potential sales for a product and later plan for factories to meet those sales on time.
Skills picked up in this industry are largely transferrable among businesses in different industries, as the demanding environment of the consumer goods sector sets its employees up to progress well in other equally fast-paced industries.
Supply chain roles require a logical mind and the ability to solve problems. The need to work with various departments will require good communication skills and the ability to be a team player.
Working with demanding vendors and clients can also be stressful, hence patience and solid negotiation skills are important for graduates who are interested in this field.
Employers in this field also have a preference for candidates with a background in logistics, engineering, IT, operations management, finance, business administration and supply chain-related qualifications and degrees.
However, candidates who do not possess such qualifications are still welcomed, but they will need to demonstrate sound commercial awareness, and strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Ups and downs
Work pressure is something that most employees struggle with, given that customer’s satisfaction is of top priority. However, the stable and constant demand for workers in the consumer goods sector provides a range of opportunities to graduates interested in this field.
Research and Development: Graduate Area of Work
Research and development (R&D) allows graduates to transform scientific ideas into business practices.
A career in this field will involve figuring out how to meet consumer demand and turn concepts into reality. FMCG companies place a priority in recruiting innovative and talented graduates for the R&D team as they play a vital role in ensuring that the company stays ahead of the competition.
The fundamental aim of R&D in this industry is to refine existing products and develop new ones with the use cutting-edge technologies.
As a nation known for its formidable research capabilities, Singapore is the leading player in the consumer business in Asia, with key multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Mondelez setting up R&D centres in Singapore.
The maturity of this area of work in Singapore provides graduates with vast learning and growth opportunities.
Although scientific and technological investigation and experiments make up a large part in graduate R&D jobs, you can expect to work outside of the lab as well, and with teams from other areas of the business, such as manufacturing and marketing.
Quite often, graduate training programmes offered by FMCG companies are designed to ensure interaction amongst the various teams.
As a graduate trainee, you can also expect your work to include patent protection, regulatory compliance and ensuring that products have the lowest possible environmental impact. This is where graduates are able to use their problem solving and analytical skills to make a real and positive impact to the environment.
That said, the structure of each R&D division varies depending on the company’s needs. Different tasks and roles will be assigned at different stages of a product’s life cycle ranging from prototype to manufacturing and full-scale production.
Additionally, some FMCG organisations have specific research centres located across the globe, giving graduates in this field the opportunity for travel and international exposure.
These centres tend to focus on conducting research to develop and/or improve a particular aspect of the organisation’s products, for example on flavour, fragrance, appearance, texture or nutrition only, rather than on the entire product as a whole.
Unlike other areas of work in this sector, R&D roles call for candidates with technical qualifications in specific disciplines related to the field of research, for example in chemistry, chemical engineering, food science or biology.
Some research positions may also require postgraduate qualifications.
However, having the right qualifications may not be enough for you to secure the role as recruiters also look for individuals who have a different view on things, have good commercial awareness, and are curious and inquisitive in nature.
This is because R&D professionals need to be willing to constantly ask questions and to follow up on them in order to keep up with the quickly-changing market demands.
Ups and downs
A common frustration that researchers in this industry express is the need to keep up with the rapid changes in market trends and consumer demand. You may find yourself working on a project for some time, only to discover the need to alter your area of research due to an unexpected drop in demand.
However, the variety of tasks that you will have to perform in your role will ensure an exciting job scope. You will also be surrounded by a diverse range of experts in their fields, providing you with plenty of resources and opportunities for growth.
Human Resources and Recruitment: Graduate Area of Work
The human resources department is largely responsible for recruiting and training candidates to meet the company’s talent demand.
Consumer goods companies know the critical role that a strong talent pool plays in securing continued commercial success. Company output is dependent on employee competence which human resources (HR) and recruitment management have a strong influence in.
HR roles in this industry entail the recruitment, selection, training, and performance management process as well as compensation practices.
As the workforce in the consumer goods industry comprise of different areas of expertise, you will find yourself on the perfect platform for learning and growth with maximum exposure to working with diverse individuals.
Large FMCG organisations may offer graduate schemes catered specifically for HR roles. For companies that do not offer a specific HR training programme, you may be able to break into the industry through an entry-level role as a HR assistant.
During the course of a graduate scheme, you’ll primarily be gaining a broad perspective on HR and an in-depth, practical understanding of different areas of the business.
As a fresh grad, your placement would require you to spend time in different locations ranging from manufacturing sites to the head office.
You may also get the chance to take on international projects or be appointed as the single point of contact for employees at a specific site. Gaining such responsibilities early on in your career will push you to adopt an in-depth understanding of the work culture and needs of the team.
Additionally, you will be involved in designing and facilitating team building events and gaining an understanding of the employee life cycle from the point of recruitment to retirement. You can expect mentoring and support from your experienced colleagues as you go through the training programme.
Employers usually consider applications from a range of degree backgrounds for entry-level HR roles. However, a degree in human resources, management and business will give you an edge.
Whether or not you have a relevant degree, it is important for you to demonstrate a genuine interest and strong knowledge on the general consumer goods market. Some experience in leadership roles in university clubs, volunteer experiences and projects will add to your credibility as a candidate.
You will also need to demonstrate effective interpersonal skills as a role in HR entails regular interaction with colleagues from various education and cultural backgrounds in the global organisation.
Pros and cons
Having in-depth knowledge about the company may be a daunting but necessary task when you hold a HR role in a sector with such diverse departments and talents.
You’ll have to understand the challenges faced by different employees, which can be specific to their departments, to be able to provide a solution accordingly.
However, there is satisfaction in knowing that you get to make a direct impact on your organisation’s output by boosting the staff’s productivity.
Manufacturing and Engineering: Graduate Area of Work
Engineers in this industry are primarily responsible for developing and optimising manufacturing processes to promote efficiency.
Engineering in consumer goods companies is a diverse area of work. It includes designing and installing advanced machinery and ensuring that production lines run smoothly. The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry manufactures products on a massive scale, entailing complex operations that often involves leading-edge technologies.
Aside from overseeing the machinery, engineers are expected to maintain, upgrade and optimise all equipment. As consumer demand constantly fluctuates, engineers need to innovate new machines and processes to match them.
Maintaining reliability is a trending issue in this field, and engineers are involved in implementing efforts to make machines run efficiently and consistently for long periods of time. Automation and robotics are also growing areas of focus in this sector.
Graduate engineers can expect to be involved in the process design for the manufacturing of new products. During this stage, you’ll be tasked to assess the needed machinery and equipment and how to maintain them throughout the manufacturing process. You’ll be working as part of a larger, multi-disciplinary project team.
For instance, you may have to work with production colleagues who will assess the ingredients required and determine the number of people required to man the production lines. Throughout such tasks, graduate engineers also develop ways to manage, reduce and recycle waste.
As a graduate engineer, you may find yourself in either production or manufacturing roles. Roles in production primarily focus on product creation and making sure that products meet the required quality levels.
You’ll also work on people management and shift management, which is an excellent training ground for graduate engineers to get to know different teams of people who run the production lines and the procedures better. Aside from working with colleagues from different departments, you’ll also have to liaise with external suppliers and distributors.
Manufacturing roles on the other hand are focused on increasing efficiency and the improvement of industrial performance. Here, you may find yourself putting your analytical skills and problem-solving skills to the test as you’ll be tasked with analysing problems for possible solutions.
It’s not just brainwork, though. You’ll also be required to put control mechanisms in place to make sure that the improvement is sustainable.
Most engineering disciplines can apply for manufacturing jobs in this industry. Work in this sector is challenging and fast moving, so recruiters look for graduates who can think on their feet, have strong analytical abilities and a strong drive for continuous improvement.
You’ll also need good interpersonal and project management skills, especially for manufacturing roles, as you will work with people inside and outside of the company for projects.
Pros and cons
This area of work will often have you travelling to different manufacturing sites in multiple locations, which may tire some individuals after some time.
However, such an arrangement opens up more opportunities for graduates to learn about the company and be acquainted with other functions within the organisation. The pace and steep learning curve will also push you to learn more in a shorter period of time, contributing to your personal and professional growth.
Finance and Financial Management: Graduate Area of Work
The vast scale of FMCG calls for finance professionals to perform functions ranging from tax planning to cost forecasting.
Graduate finance roles in consumer goods companies call for plenty of team work and effective communication from across different areas of work to maintain and execute effective financial controls.
In this area of work, you will be responsible for providing information to the management that will later be used to make business decisions and to assess the company’s performance against targets and budgets. The primary aim of finance roles in this industry is to help steer the profitability and efficiency of the business.
As you advance in your career, you may be put in a team that will oversee the success of a particular brand/product. You will thus need to be aware of market developments and any changes in regulation that may affect the company’s business.
It is common for major graduate employers to offer finance graduate schemes, where you will go through rotations across various finance functions in the company before settling into one particular team.
During your time in the scheme, you would be expected to provide financial information about specific products throughout the different stages of their life cycles. Additionally, you may also be analysing the sales progression across the business.
You may also be tasked to undertake other duties such as providing financial analysis for a brand or product category, profit forecasting, optimising costs in manufacturing facilities and internal audits.
Upon completion of the training scheme, you may advance into management accounting roles where you will focus on either commercial or operational activities. You may also progress to a senior role in finance management or even a finance director for a brand, a group of products or the region.
Numerical competence is something you will need in order to cope with the day-to-day tasks assigned to you. A degree in finance and management, as well as other business-related degrees will give you an advantage among applicants from other disciplines.
You will also need to have good communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills, as well as good attention to detail, while being highly results-driven.
Self-confidence will also take you a long way in this field as you will need to challenge business decisions that don’t make financial sense.
Ups and downs
Expanding your commercial awareness of the fast moving consumer goods sector will take up your personal time, but there are plenty of diverse opportunities and flexibility to move around the industry.
Graduates keen on attaining both personal and professional growth will also find this an attractive industry.
Distribution and Logistics: Graduate Area of Work
Distribution and logistics deal with the management of the flow of consumer goods through the supply chain to the consumer.
A role in this sector entails the management and organisation of the storage and delivery of consumer goods from factories to the right retail outlets, while adhering to strict cost and time guidelines. This area of work is a complex and global business, with time and technology being critical factors affecting an organisation’s success.
Holding this role in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, you are required to work in areas such as transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring of the movement of goods. You may also be given the option to work in reverse logistics, where you will be involved in the management of waste and by-products that come about during the production and transportation process.
Most graduate roles in this area begin with a graduate scheme. Lasting about two years on average, you will learn the skills required to manage the people as well as systems involved in the supply chain.
Logistic roles in the FMCG industry involves working closely with customers such as supermarket chains and other retailers. With experience, you will get to improve your client-facing skills, and understand your customer’s needs. You will also be able to sharpen your problem-solving skills as you encounter time-sensitive issues throughout the process.
On the other hand, if you are placed in distribution roles, you will be involved with the warehousing and transportation of the goods. Typically, you will have to manage the warehouse workers, work in stock control and provide support services to major customers when needed. You may also find yourself needing to work alongside 3PL (third-party logistics) companies, which are organisations that outsource the logistics function.
In terms of career progression, you may pursue a managerial position as a logistics and distribution manager. Managers in this area of work coordinate inventory management, warehousing and transportation. They make strategic decisions to meet business objectives and liaise with relevant parties, such as manufacturing companies, retailers and resellers.
While they make top-level decisions in this area of work, managers are still needed to manage the nitty-gritty side of the job.
This area of work welcomes graduates from all degree backgrounds, though candidates with qualifications in logistics management, engineering, IT, economics and business studies may have a leg up during the hiring process.
Having work experience in warehouse management and delivery services would also make you stand out among other graduate applicants.
You will also need to showcase strong problem-solving, communication, organisational and analytical skills. Candidates need to be adaptable and be comfortable working with technology and information systems, while leading and managing teams, and dealing with customers.
Ups and downs
You are likely to work long hours on a daily basis. Weekend work is also something common in this sector. For major companies that operate on a global level, operations are usually carried out on a 24/7 basis – you can thus expect to do shift work if you join one of these companies.
Tight deadlines are also a common occurrence in this line of work, so the ability to remain calm under pressure is something you will need to possess to succeed in this field.
However, the stress often pays off when you see the impact of your work. This is especially so for those who favour hands-on work, and who dislike being chained to a desk for a living.
Wealth Management: Graduate Area of Work
Wealth managers play an important role as trusted advisers across a range of financial issues.
Wealth management jobs are configured towards those who wish to deal with high net-worth clients. Aside from providing professional services in investment advice, wealth management also comprises of services in financial advice, banking, accounting and tax services, retirement planning and legal or estate planning.
This area of work involves a holistic approach to all parts of a person’s financial life and allows high net-worth individuals to have a single wealth manager to coordinate all the financial services needed to manage their assets, as well as meet their families’ current and future financial needs.
Not all wealth managers work in banks – wealth manager roles are most commonly found in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and some may even be self-employed. In banks, wealth managers typically only recommend financial products provided by the bank they work for, instead of products available on the whole market.
As a graduate in this field, you will generally start off with a role in a company’s back office as an administrator or a paraplanner. Administrators are involved in supporting the company’s business whereas paraplanners are involved in researching about the best products on the market to recommend clients. Gradually, you’ll rise up the ranks and progress into a wealth manager role.
Alternatively, you may enrol yourself into a graduate scheme. It is also possible for individuals to switch from their professions in accountancy, law and other financial services sales to wealth management.
Although recruiters accept applications from all disciplines, a numerate degree such as economics, accounting and finance can put you at an advantage. Business and law degrees, as well as courses in risk management, investment and taxation will also catch recruiters’ eyes.
As a graduate wealth manager, you should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills as the role will largely be client-facing in nature. You’ll need to be able to explain complicated matters in a simple and clear manner to clients.
Analytical skills are also essential to land a role in wealth management as you are responsible in formulating the most suitable advice to your clients’ problems and situation. As the role comprises of numerical aspects, you must also possess solid mathematical abilities.
Ups and downs
Wealth managers can sometimes experience a great level of stress especially at the start of their careers. As the financial services industry is highly dependent on domestic and global markets, clients reach out to their wealth managers when economies perform poorly. During such times, clients may sometimes be emotional, which can induce a high level of stress among wealth managers.
However, the greatest thing about being a wealth manager is to be able to guide clients towards making sound decisions that could lead to great success in a client’s financial life. You can thus derive great satisfaction from your career as your clients’ success will reflect your own success as a wealth manager.
Risk Management: Graduate Area of Work
Risk managers help companies to navigate through financial uncertainty and potential risks.
Risk managers help organisations avoid losses by analysing, advising, and managing potential risks on their behalf. Through close observation of the company’s risk appetite, financial limits, and business parameters, they ensure that businesses avoid running into financial risks such as fraud, as well as market, credit, liquidity, operational, and health and safety risks.
As a risk manager, a big part of your responsibilities will revolve around conducting detailed research and risk assessments for your clients, which means you’ll be spending a lot of time poring over documents, reports, statistics, and market trends.
Risk managers are usually hired by banks and insurance organisations, as well as commercial businesses such as engineering and energy companies.
Graduates typically get on board through rotational graduate schemes, where you get the chance to experience a variety of roles before specialising in one. Most executives will start out as part of a small team, and pick up essential skills on the job as they assist their colleagues with their tasks.
Graduate employees are also typically assigned mentors to guide them along in their work and oversee their progress within the organisation.
While most of your training will be done on the job, there is also a range of external training courses available for career advancement purposes. You would also need to acquire professional qualifications if you intend to specialise in particular areas of work, including technology or fraud.
The job scope can be very diverse from the get-go – one day, you could be meeting clients and surveying sites, and the next, writing reports and helping out in making preventative recommendations.
Employers generally have a preference for applicants with industry-relevant degrees – such as business, law, economics, or management.
Many employers are also given increasing importance to seeing relevant work experience in a potential candidate’s résumé, so obtaining an internship could give you a leg up in this sector.
In terms of soft skills, it’s vital that you develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills as you’ll be expected to work with people from diverse backgrounds. At the same time, you’ll need to have good problem-solving and analytical skills, as well as a good eye for detail.
Having good negotiation skills, commercial awareness, and the ability to be forward-thinking are immensely important as well.
Ups and downs
Risk managers must be prepared to work under great pressure and stress, especially in times of crisis. Work can also be extremely fast-paced and you would need to be highly adaptable to succeed in the sector’s quickly-changing environment.
That said, many risk managers enjoy their role because of the excitement that comes with the diversity of the day-to-day tasks.
Retail Banking: Graduate Area of Work
The retail banking sector mainly involves serving customers in their daily financial needs.
Retail banks provide consumers and small businesses with a variety of financial products and services that range from bank and savings accounts, mortgages, loans, personal credit products, as well as remittance services.
Some retail banks also offer services such as stock brokerage, insurance, wealth management, and private banking – although these are usually delivered through another division or an affiliate of the bank.
However, with the finance industry rapidly adopting FinTech (financial technology) innovations and solutions, it has become necessary for retail banks to continuously adapt their services and facilities in order to sufficiently serve their customers.
This includes rethinking features such as mobile banking services, online security measures, new products and collaborations, as well as customer service.
As most sectors of the finance industry, the retail banking sector is constantly being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
There are diverse opportunities for graduates in retail banking, ranging from risk management and compliance to marketing and IT. Most major banks typically run specialised graduate programmes to recruit potential candidates to their function of choice. Management associate programmes are also especially popular.
Most graduate programmes offered are rotational in nature, and will span a total of two years, where you get the opportunity to experience the different areas of work within the department and to gain a an understanding of the organisation’s business as a whole.
Besides learning about your role on-the-job and through formal training programmes, you may also be attached to a mentor to guide you along your various responsibilities as you move from one department to another. Upon graduating from the programme, you will be assigned to the role that best suits you.
Also, depending on your programme, you may be put in charge of managing small-scale projects, be involved in creating new products and services, providing technical support to your colleagues/other divisions, or handling customers on the ground.
In most cases, most candidates will work a regular 9-to-5 shift, but certain roles may require you to pull the graveyard or weekend shift.
The career path for graduates working in this sector can be very diverse due to the sheer variety of products offered by each bank.
Career advancement can take place vertically – where you climb up the corporate ladder to take on managerial positions – or horizontally – where you transition from managing products such as mortgages and personal loans to a different division, e.g. private banking.
You can also consider obtaining professional diplomas or other qualifications to help you with your career progression. It is also a good idea to consult your mentor for ideas on how you can go about developing your career.
Employers in this sector generally welcome graduates from any education background – unless the position requires specific technical skills. To be a stand-out applicant in this highly competitive sector, you should focus instead on developing your soft skills. In particular, develop the ability to manage well, teamworking ability, and communication and interpersonal skills.
Good customer-facing skills is also tremendously important as a big part of your job scope will revolve around assisting customers in their queries. Aside from that, having excellent organisational and management skills will also stand you in good stead, as will commercial awareness.
Ups and downs
The retail banking sector is fast-paced and exciting, and offers a relatively good work-life balance. In addition to that, excellent benefits such as lucrative year-end and additional bonuses, as well as varied growth opportunities, make working in this sector extremely attractive.
That said, be aware that this sector can be relatively stressful, especially during crunch time such as the launch of a new product. You may also find the working environment to be quite structured, with plenty of red tapes in place.
Insurance: Graduate Area of Work
The insurance sector is highly diverse and offers a constantly changing work environment.
Careers in the insurance industry can be immensely wide-ranging, but they ultimately revolve around the safeguarding of an entity’s financial assets when an unexpected occurrence happens.
There are diverse positions that graduates can expect to start out in this industry. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Graduate underwriter
Underwriters are responsible for determining a client’s eligibility for a policy, additional terms and conditions part of the plan, as well as the amount of premium to be paid by the client.
- Claims management trainee
As part of the insurance claims department, you’ll be involved in assessing the validity of submitted claims, as well as liaising with policyholders to ensure that the repayment process is completed efficiently.
- Trainee loss adjuster
Loss adjusters share a relatively similar job scope with insurance claims handlers – e.g. checking the validity of a claim, establishing the causes of a loss, etc. – except they typically work as an independent third party, and are attached to specialist practices instead of insurance companies.
Insurers generally seek the services of loss adjusters, instead of claims managers, for more complex claims.
- Business development, business finance, and sales graduate roles
The responsibilities for this position varies according to the employer’s area of speciality, but working in the business division typically involves a mix of duties such as promoting services to potential clients, as well as identifying and following up on new opportunities.
- Graduate insurance broker
Insurance brokers help clients match their needs with the most suitable insurance products for the best premiums.
- Trainer actuary
Actuaries help their clients to forecast, manage, and advise on financial risks through the application of financial and statistical theories.
- Graduate product manager
Product managers at insurance companies are responsible for creating, testing, and launching new insurance products for potential customers. Their responsibilities may include market research, sales forecasting, as well as regulatory compliance.
- Operations management
In this role, you will be primarily responsible for managing and encouraging the customer service department.
- Support functions
Insurers will require a variety of other expertise to support their core business, such as technology specialists, marketing, and HR personnel.
Your main employer will probably be insurance companies, but insurance brokerage, retail banks, and supermarkets are very welcoming of graduates as well. You may also want to consider specialist consultancies, where they carry out very specific roles, such as specialising in life insurance or loss adjustment.
Most large employers offer training/graduate schemes to help you adapt to your new working environment. The schemes are usually rotational to provide diverse experiences to help you understand the company better. Others, on the other hand, will rely on on-the-job training, and formal/informal mentorship programmes from senior team members.
Variety of products
The type of work involved in your role also greatly depends on the employer’s area of speciality in terms of the products offered. The following are the main types of insurance products:
- General insurance
This encompasses the different types of insurance policies save one – life insurance.
- Commercial/corporate insurance
This is crafted specifically for business organisations, protecting them against unforeseen events such as theft, property damage, liability, or other disruptions to their day-to-day operations.
- Life insurance
Life insurance is purchased as a form of financial protection and aid for named beneficiaries in the case of a premature death.
- Personal insurance
This consists of a range of insurance contracts that protects an individual financially in the event of a misfortune. Common examples of this type of insurance include policies for personal automobiles, properties, and illnesses.
This is purchased for insurers and acts as a risk management strategy for them. For instance, when an insurer foresees itself encountering a financial strain due to an unexpectedly large payout for his/her clients, they may opt for reinsurance as a method to mitigate that risk.
Remember, though, that the insurance industry is always expanding, and that these are only basic products. To score at job interviews with insurers, it’s important that you read up on other unique offerings that the company is involved in as well.
Employers in this industry value graduates with skills such as the ability to react promptly, numeracy, good attention to detail, and great client-facing skills.
Generally, most employers will state a preference for numerate or business/management-related degrees. While this is especially so for actuary positions, graduates from all degree disciplines are usually welcome to try for other roles in the sector.
Also, your employer may also urge you to sit for examinations from professional bodies. The certifications obtained are usually vital for career progression.
Ups and downs
If you enjoy meeting new people and working in a stimulating environment, then this could be an industry worth exploring.
However, do be aware that certain positions in the insurance industry can be deskbound with relatively little variety, such as the underwriter position. On the other hand, if you’re working as an insurance sales representative, then you can expect a lot of travelling opportunities.
Actuarial Work: Graduate Area of Work
Actuaries help business organisations predict and manage risks.
As an actuary, your work revolves heavily around the prediction, evaluation, and management of risks using a combination of statistical/mathematical models and commercial awareness. You may also be invited to advise clients about your findings as well as help them develop potential solutions.
For this reason, your job scope can be very diverse, encompassing a good mix of client-facing and calculation tasks.
Among some of the key day-to-day responsibilities as an actuary include analysing statistical data, preparing reports and presentations, as well as working with IT professionals to develop and update systems to incorporate solutions to the risks. In some cases, you may even be assigned to develop an entirely new financial product.
Actuaries are greatly needed in a variety of sectors, including banks and financial services organisations, insurance companies, specialist consultancies, and even accounting firms and investment banks.
You are generally required to possess sufficiently high grades in an actuarial science degree; however, some employers do accept graduates with a background in other numerate degrees, such as statistics, economics, finance, or mathematics, provided you showcase a strong understanding of the financial industry.
Having a degree in actuarial science may also exempt you from some of the professional qualification exams that you need to take to become a certified actuary.
Graduate employees typically start their career as a trainee, assisting senior colleagues in their duties as they train and pick up the necessary skills required to advance in this career path. You’ll spend a big portion of your time handling calculations and using pre-constructed models to generate financial forecasts.
As you gain more experience, you will be given greater responsibilities such as leading projects, constructing, updating and analysing financial and forecasting models, and handling client relationships.
Most employers encourage you to begin studying for a professional qualification/fellowship as soon as you get on board, which often translates to a challenging time balancing between work and study. However, most organisations are very supportive of their staff members who are pursuing a fellowship, offering financial assistance and ample study leaves to lighten their struggles.
Upon gaining their certification, most actuaries tend to specialise in a specific area of interest, gaining in-depth knowledge, experience, and reputation as an expert in that particular field.
That said, there are many actuaries who have found opportunities in other seemingly unrelated areas of management as well. For instance, actuaries have been known to venture into infrastructure and climate change projects, as well as the healthcare and data science industry.
Aside from possessing a high level of numeracy, you need to be good at problem solving, research, and analysis. Good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills are also important as your job scope includes presenting data/solutions to your clients, most of whom possess minimal understanding of actuarial science.
Actuaries should also be flexible, adaptable, and able to handle ambiguity as the job scope can be very diverse, with ad-hoc tasks and projects interrupting your day regularly. Accountability is equally important as it’s crucial that you diligently follow up on your clients throughout the process of implementing a solution.
Ups and downs
As an actuary, you’ll be involved in a variety of tasks and industries, making your job an extremely interesting and challenging one. This is made even more exciting by the rapid development of the financial industry by IT and technology, leading to new risks and the need for creative solutions.
Actuaries also enjoy steady career advancements and attractive remunerations, especially upon obtaining a fellowship from a recognised actuarial association.
That said, the workload may get stressful and lead to extra hours – especially when you’re in the process of pursuing a fellowship.
Corporate Banking: Graduate Area of Work
Corporate bankers provide financial advice and offer the bank’s products and services to commercial clients to help businesses grow.
Corporate banking is similar to retail banking, but instead of dealing with everyday people, corporate bankers deal with companies. Clients from this segment typically range from SMEs to large corporations.
Those who work in this field are employed by commercial banks that offer corporate clients financial services such as treasury advice, loans and credit, trade finance and more.
Some of a corporate banker’s responsibilities include meeting with clients to discuss their financial needs and to provide financial advice accordingly. They also offer advice about mergers, acquisitions and capital markets to help clients make sound financial decisions.
Like most careers in the banking sector, corporate banking often entails high levels of responsibility. The prospect of upward mobility and impressive benefits for employees, however, makes the sector a popular career choice among graduates. For this reason, competition can be fierce.
As a result, recruiters prefer applicants who have done an internship in this area of work as they would have a better understanding of the field and would be more likely to hit the ground running as soon as they start work.
Most corporate bankers enter this field through a graduate scheme and start out as analysts. Your training will involve rotations across varying teams to learn about the different areas of work and to develop an understanding of the industry as a whole.
You may also receive the opportunity to shadow senior relationship managers to client meetings and observe how they sell the bank’s products. During these sessions, you will be able to familiarise yourself with key corporate banking products and to pick up crucial client-facing skills.
After a year or two under the graduate scheme, you will be able to progress to a junior or an associate level, and will gradually be given the responsibility to handle clients on your own.
During your years as an associate, you are expected to establish relationships with corporate clients, which may take a few years to build as it requires experience and skill to successfully gain their trust. To rise up the ranks, you need to build a network of external relationships while still maintaining a strong relationship with your existing clients, and help the bank secure important accounts.
It is not necessary for you to hold a finance-related degree to enter this field. Recruiters typically look for applicants with skills such as numeracy, negotiation, interpersonal and analytical ability. The need to build relationships in corporate banking also calls for qualitative skills and high emotional intelligence.
Apart from these skills, internship and training experience have become increasingly sought after by employers. It is thus advisable for you to attend apprenticeship programmes and internships during university to build up a repertoire of skills and possibly have an advantage over other applicants.
Pros and cons
As with all client-facing jobs, you may encounter demanding and difficult clients from time to time. Additionally, the working environment is often fast-paced and high-stress in nature.
However, as a corporate banker, you will be able to work with a variety of products as opposed to being pigeonholed to working on just one product for the length of your career. As such, you would be able to flex your intellectual and creative muscles as you work on successfully matching the right products to your clients.
Web Development and e-Commerce: Graduate Area of Work
Building a strong and reputable online and web presence, and conducting trading and transactions through the internet.
The internet business sector – focused on developing products and services for online consumers – has grown in size and importance to the extent that most major organisations aren’t considered complete without an online presence. It is dominated primarily by two major players: financial services businesses and online retail stores.
For financial services businesses, the internet delivers a win-win situation that benefits both the banks and their clients. Users will be able to perform basic banking tasks (e.g. monetary transfers, bill payments, etc.) round the clock without being physically present at the bank, and banks are also able to save on certain operational costs, such as on marketing or processing fees.
Likewise, retail businesses also reap cost savings when they shift their operations online, enabling them to offer more competitive prices to consumers. Online systems also help retailers manage their supply chains more efficiently. Lazada, Rakuten and eBay are some examples of major online retailers in Singapore.
Given the high level of interest in e-commerce and the online marketplace here, there are plenty of recruitment opportunities in this sector. However, they are often not publicly advertised, especially for tech start-ups.
Most start-ups in the ecommerce industry tend to start out small, so they usually hire through word-of-mouth, recommendations, or internship conversions. In other words, it might be a good idea for you to start job searching during your time in university, taking up an internship and then converting your internship into a full-time position.
Web development opportunities are also often available in larger, more established organisations, although the recruitment process may be considerably more formal and structured. Rotations are the norm before you are assigned to a position that you’re most comfortable with, and it may take 3 to 12 months, depending on the arrangement of the company.
Recruiting requirements can vary – tech start-ups in e-commerce look out for candidates with strong academic backgrounds, equipped with technical skills such as programming, coding, business analysis, and quality assurance skills. A technical degree is not mandatory, but do take modules in coding or pick it up on the side to enhance your employability
As trends and technologies vacillate rapidly, employers will look out for qualities like enthusiasm and commercial awareness – vital prerequisites to break into the e-commerce/web development industry.
Do pay attention to new regulations and certifications introduced to the sector as well – the e-commerce industry is still relatively young in many Southeast Asian countries, and many governments are still testing out ways to regulate the industry.
Other sought-after qualities include being willing to learn, quick to adapt, having an eye for detail, and the ability to deal with ambiguity.
Pros and cons
If you thrive in a challenging and fast-paced environment, this industry is for you. You will be able to see almost immediate results, and many in this industry take pride in knowing they have transformed the way people trade and transact, besides the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology.
That said, dealing with the rapid changes in technology and business processes can be tiring after a while. Issues such as scammers, cyber security risks, and cybercrime are also constant threats that you will be expected to handle.
Technology Consulting: Graduate Area of Work
Technology consultants focus on advising and helping their clients navigate through business obstacles by introducing IT solutions and strategies.
While “tech start-up” is the new buzzword of the industry these days, venturing into any kind of businesses that involve introducing or implementing technology in the real world can be daunting. For this reason, businesses – even successful ones – will need consultants or industry experts who can advise on the best IT strategy and solution for their clients.
With Singapore being a preferred base for many tech and ecommerce organisations, both established (e.g. Rakuten Singapore, Zalora, etc.) and brand new, the technology consultancy industry within the country is having a field day.
There are various ways to classify the nature and services of a technology consultancy firm, but most of them will fall into one of the following five categories:
- IT strategy and design: Where consultants match their clients’ existing technology to their business strategy in order to help them stay relevant in the industry.
- IT operations and management: Where consultants work on “renovating” and upgrading a client’s existing IT and business processes to improve performance. Depending on your agreement with the client, you may be involved in the process to a varying degree – from IT governance, to managing minor tweaks in technology, to introducing and installing best practices in certain areas.
- Enterprise architecture: Where consultants help an organisation draw up an IT strategy roadmap, vision, corporate technology standards, and a core technology catalogue to guide its growth in the future.
- Sourcing: Where consultants help to streamline a client’s operations by assessing and advising if a corporation should outsource its IT functions. Again, the degree of involvement may vary – on one hand, you may only be reviewing the situation for the clients, or you may be involved in specifying the requirements and negotiating IT service agreements with IT service providers on behalf of your client as well.
- Integration: Where consultants assist clients with complex business problems via IT software solutions, whether it involves creating tailored or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) IT solutions. Some major firms will have the ability to cover the whole development life cycle; but others will break down the cycle into parts to delegate among its specialised partners.
The type of clients that you are serving makes a difference in the type of responsibilities that you have to work with as well. For instance, if your firm is mostly liaising with players in the ecommerce industry, then you can expect to be working on projects involving specialised knowledge. On the other hand, consultants catering to start-ups may have a more hands-on role.
Employers generally start their graduate recruits out with project support and analytical roles, where they look for information and analyse data to contribute to the projects that are handled by their assigned team. This is also to help them build their foundation, pick up basic skills, and train in their firm’s methodologies.
Once you have gained enough experience, you may then be put in charge of a client or a function – e.g. reviewing/designing/building a system before being placed in a leadership position within five years or so, where you manage a major transition project or a small project.
Alternatively, you can also grow your career by specialising in certain functions to become an industry expert, or by becoming part of the senior management to manage people instead.
Work will involve you being the middleman between your clients and your firm, as well as technical work such as building, installing, and testing systems on behalf of your clients. Projects tend to be client-based, so you may find yourself spending quite a chunk of your time travelling and working onsite.
While most technology consultancy firms are willing to hire from all degrees (with strong academic background and reputable universities), they may lean towards technology, science, or numerate qualifications for some positions. Having industry-related work experience – gained from part-time jobs, internships, or degree modules – is an added edge.
That said, your willingness to learn (and learn fast) as well as your interest in technology is what appeals most to employers.
Don’t forget to cultivate and showcase a range of excellent soft skills too! The consultancy sector prizes employees with good soft skills – especially persuasion, presentation, and writing skills – so start early in your university days by joining activities that can help you improve these abilities.
Commercial knowledge and research into the consulting industry are also extremely essential; e.g. knowing the key players and their areas of specialisation can help you to successfully persuade and convince your clients to invest in IT.
Pros and cons
As a technology consultant where work is project/client-based, you’ll be exposed to a lot of different industries and companies, which promises variety and plenty of learning and networking opportunities. Many employees also relish the wide range of opportunities for career development, where you can opt to develop your technical skills to become an expert or to manage your own team.
The satisfaction of being able to help your clients find a solution and improve their business procedures is also another major incentive for some consultants. Yet others are in the industry because they like the challenge that the industry poses as they uncover different ways to overcome IT obstacles in the fast-paced world.
However, some might find the constant travelling tiring. Working hours might sometimes go beyond the usual nine to five as well, so it might require some compromise on work-life balance.
Professional Services IT: Graduate Area of Work
Helping business organisations safeguard their IT systems and observe regulatory compliance with Singapore’s legal and accounting regulations.
The industry – which focuses on assisting their clients with specialist expertise and advisory services – typically offers their know-how in several areas, such as audit, tax, accountancy, consulting, law, corporate governance, corporate finance, and risk assessment.
Among some of the most recognisable professional services firms that you can find in Singapore include BDO, EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC – all of which are organisations well-known for offering valuable help when it comes to compliance with various legal requirements related to accounting and business processes.
However, with IT and data management now playing a big part in their clients’ daily operations and business strategy, these organisations have also expanded their expertise to include technology.
Typical services offered include:
- IT audit: IT professionals assess the client’s IT systems to determine its effectiveness and how well it integrates with the business. They will usually focus on issues such as possible security risks and how IT can help increase the company’s efficiency.
- IT governance: This service involves the checking of the organisation’s IT systems to make sure that they’re operating and complying with Singapore’s legal and accounting regulations.
- IT project reassurance: IT professionals assess the risk probability of an IT project before a client implements it, and then advises the organisation on ways to manage or mitigate it.
- Security and privacy: This area includes checking the client’s IT systems for security threats – both internal and external – as well as crisis management in case of the presence of any attacks.
Graduates who join professional services firms usually do so through a specialist graduate programme where you’ll be assigned to a team or a project from the start. Mentoring is likely to help you acclimatise to the work culture, and most of your skills will be picked up during your training on the job and your exposure to different experiences through various assignments.
Your work will involve a lot of client-facing as you’ll be working onsite. You will also be working alongside a multidisciplinary team. You may also have to work closely with the client’s in-house IT department or the organisation's IT users (e.g. the staff members) while you assess the risks and develop recommendations to improve their systems.
As you progress in your work, you may want to pursue an internationally recognised professional certificate for information systems auditing, control, and security – such as the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT certifications.
The ISACA Singapore Chapter, a local body that promotes the professional practice of IT governance through continuing education and other efforts, has also introduced a new Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification recently.
While it is not necessary to have a computer science degree to work in technology-related roles in professional services firms, you do need a strong academic background and a good grasp of numeracy and analytical skills. A clear interest in technology and some knowledge of how it may affect the operation of a business will also stand you in good stead.
As your roles will require you to interact with a lot of people, having excellent communication and interpersonal skills is absolutely imperative. Teamwork, commercial awareness, and adaptability are also important in this sector.
It is also best to be aware of the latest industry updates, and keep an eye out for up-and-coming regulations and services that are being promoted by government bodies and professional services firms.
Pros and cons
The constant travelling involved in the job may get tiring for some individuals, however, IT professionals working in this industry find excitement in being able to work in a variety of organisations and sectors. There are also plenty of networking opportunities, so if you enjoy interacting with people as you handle technical responsibilities, this job is for you!
IT Services: Graduate Area of Work
IT services organisations provide clients with invaluable professional technology support and services to help them achieve their business goals.
Business organisations often enlist the help of IT services providers to cut costs, improve service efficiency and gain access to a range of technological expertise. The process generally entails the assessment of clients’ needs, followed by the implementation of a solution, and then providing support and after-sales services.
Clients typically expect four things from a good technology partner:
- Proactive and strategic advice during the implementation process that helps clients make better decisions to improve their existing IT infrastructure.
- Sharing knowledge and experiences to help clients benefit from the functions of their new technological upgrades.
- Able to translate technological value of IT additions into economic value, e.g. shareholder returns, revenue growth, etc.
- To take charge and be involved in the whole process of purchasing and installing solutions/upgrades, e.g. explaining the products to shareholders, the implementation, as well as post-installation support.
The functions of IT services is likely to overlap with technology consulting to an extent as IT services providers need to match their services to client’s needs, rather than just selling them.
Depending on the size of the IT services provider and the depth of services provided, some may offer a broad range of services, while others prefer to specialise in only one or two.
For instance, an established services provider such as HCL Technologies is able to cover multiple areas (e.g. infrastructure, applications, engineering, and even business services). On the other hand, a smaller technology partner might choose to concentrate only on infrastructure or applications.
Broadly speaking, work in this industry can be divided into four categories:
- Client relations
- Designing, building, installing, and testing technology solutions
Graduates will likely start off as a junior member in a team, assisting senior colleagues in their work and picking up essential skills on the job in the first few months of employment. You may be asked to work on one small aspect of a big project, manage only one client account, or perform a specific function in one particular technical area.
Gradually, your responsibilities will grow, and you can progress as a specialist in a specific function or a particular industry.
The frequency of your travels, hours, and pace of work is very role-dependent. Those in consulting roles are often required to travel to meet clients on very short notice, on a very fast-paced schedule. The technical team, on the other hand, tends to have a more stable schedule and is less mobile, but when things go wrong, all-nighters are inevitable.
The IT services industry welcomes nearly all degree disciplines as there is a variety of positions available, but technical roles will usually require a background in computing, science, engineering and math.
Technical and academic knowledge should be complemented with commercial awareness, especially in a client-facing role.
In order to convince clients, you need to understand and communicate the benefits that IT can bring to your client’s business, as well as a grasp of current market trends. For instance, the recent boom of cloud technologies, mobile applications and the concept of gamification are immensely influential, and might be advantageous to your client.
Be sure to work on soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and the ability to prioritise as well. Different roles will emphasise the need for different soft skills. For instance, those of you working in consultancy may want to polish up on communication and interpersonal skills; while those working as programmers/technical officers should aim to cultivate patience and an eye for detail.
Pros and cons
Working in this industry promises diversity in terms of your job scope and the people you meet. As you get involved in different projects, and thus different clients, you’ll also get plenty of networking and learning opportunities.
However, the speed at which technology evolves is extremely fast, and while some may see this as a positive life-long learning opportunity, others may get weary of the rapid changes. Some roles may have lifestyles that can wear some of you down too (e.g. consultancy is fast-paced will require plenty of travelling), so make sure to consider thoroughly before applying.
IT Outsourcing: Graduate Area of Work
Working at an outsourced IT service provider will allow you to benefit from the exposure to a variety of business-focused technologies.
Outsourcing is a rapidly growing area in the IT sector, encouraged mainly by the speed with which technology is evolving. With the IT sector developing as fast as it is – take, for instance, the boom in cloud computing, big data, and mobile technology – many companies are finding it a challenge to keep up and to maintain an in-house IT team to cater to these changes, making outsourcing a more preferable option.
This increase in demand has made the environment a competitive one, particularly in Singapore as one of the primary IT hub in the Southeast Asian region; and services providers need to constantly be two steps ahead of the market in order to succeed.
Most major outsourcing services providers make it a point to cover as many aspects of technology as possible – ranging from hardware such as PCs to mainframes, to software like Microsoft/Apple packages, to major SAP (Systems, Applications & Product) implementations – and often also offering other supporting technology and training services to complement their offerings.
Not only that, they will also need to make use of their expertise to reduce the cost of service, provide greater capacity on demand to their clients, as well as improve the availability of systems for them. A primary example of such an IT services provider is HCL Technologies, which is based in India.
An IT services provider can offer their services in a variety of forms – whether individually, combined as a package to provide an overall service offering, or customisable according to the needs of the client. Most offerings will fall into either one of the three areas:
- Applications management: Where the contracted services provider is asked to develop and/or maintain key applications for a client.
- Infrastructure support: Where the services provider manages and maintains the client’s IT environment and infrastructure, including (but not limited to) PCs, printers, networks, and servers.
- Business process outsourcing (BPO): Where the client completely outsources a business process/function within the company – e.g. HR or finance, to a services provider. In other words, the services provider not only takes care of the infrastructure and systems needed to support the process, but will also perform the function on behalf of the client.
These services are then offered to the clients through a mix of onshore, nearshore, and offshore service delivery centres, depending on the location of the client.
Most organisations typically start their graduate hire off with a training programme that lets them try out a few areas of work to gauge their preference and capability. Following that, you will typically be assigned to one service team that works on one particular function/area or client, usually in specific technical roles such as telecoms support, networking support, or programming.
In some cases, you may also find yourself being part of the customer services department, where you’ll be providing technical assistance to clients and customers as part of a service desk operation.
As you work, you can progress your career in two ways:
1. By specialising in a particular technology or technical field, or
2. By moving into project or service management instead.
The former option will require you to gain as much in-depth knowledge as possible, whereas the latter puts you in a closer contact with clients and customers.
Candidates wishing to work in this field need to have a degree with a strong technical element, but you should not be discouraged if your degree is not directly related to the position that you’re applying for.
Most employers value your enthusiasm to pick up new technical abilities on the job, and you will stand an even better chance if you’ve been exposed to some of the concepts or processes that are related to outsourcing and IT service provision.
It’s also important for you to be an excellent communicator as you’ll be liaising often with your clients, particularly if you’re assigned to the customer services department as a technical person.
Patience, good planning skills, and the ability to prioritise are also traits that you need to have as you’ll be serving multiple clients from all walks of life, with multiple deadlines to different projects to meet.
Pros and cons
Work in this area promises a lot of excitement due to its exponential growth and dynamic atmosphere, and you can also look forward to working in a variety of business environments thanks to the client-facing component of your job. As your clients will come from different industries, there will be plenty of learning and networking opportunities for you as you get exposed to the trends in different sectors.
That said, the rapid technology developments can be just as taxing as it is exciting. You may finish working on an updated system or studying an upcoming trend, only to find that the trend is already outmoded. You may also find yourself facing clients with the occasional demanding technical expectations.
IT in Telecommunications: Graduate Area of Work
Working in the telecommunications industry lets you improve and reinvent global communication systems to better serve its users.
The telecommunications industry is all about connecting people – whether it’s communication through traditional fixed-line telephones, computers and laptops, or mobile devices.
As one of the more technologically-advanced countries within the Southeast Asian region, Singapore has placed tremendous focus on its telecommunication industry, viewing it as the key to the development of its status as a knowledge-based economy and its various industries, particularly the services and infocommunications sector.
This is reflected in the government’s Infocomm Media 2025 plan – a strategy to create a globally competitive infocommunications media system that supports Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
Job opportunities in the telecommunications sector can usually be found within two groups: vendors and carriers.
To put it simply, vendor companies, such as Apple, Ericsson, Huawei, Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, and Agilent, provide the hardware and software products required by the sector; whereas carrier companies such as SingTel and StarHub make use of the products to deliver telecommunications services to the end users.
Graduates aspiring to break into the industry can also find employment with IT consultancy providers, such as Accenture and IBM.
Depending on which group that you choose to enter (i.e. vendors or carriers), your early responsibilities might differ. Those who opt to start their career with vendor companies will typically be put in a technical role to assist in hardware or software development before moving on to other roles after gaining some experience.
Graduate recruits starting at carrier companies, in contrast, have more options in terms of their roles, but most will often require specialist knowledge. Most companies will also have graduate or management associate programmes with job rotations and mentorships to ease graduates into the workforce.
Whichever option that you choose, your work will usually come to you in the form of projects, and responsibilities may include researching and developing hardware and software, product testing, setting up or maintaining the necessary infrastructure, technical sales and marketing, as well as providing support to your clients and customers.
The pace of work varies with the type of role that you’re in. For instance, a software/hardware developer usually gets a longer response time compared to their colleagues working as technical support in the marketing or customer service department.
You can also expect work-life balance from your line of work, and unless you are rushing for a deadline, most employees working in the telecommunications department do not have to stay for extra hours.
While entry requirements may differ depending on the industry and role that you’re applying for, a strong academic background and a relevant degree is necessary, such as telecommunications, information technology, computer science, and electrical/electronic engineering.
Previous work experience – through research, internships, part-time jobs, and industrial placements – has also become a necessary requirement as it provides you with some of the basic skills needed to start out right in the industry.
With enough experience racked up from the job, you should be able to progress your career into most roles, but some positions will require higher qualifications or technical certifications. It is a good idea to speak to your mentor or manager and plot out your career pathway to determine if you will need to study for additional credentials to progress.
Knowledge about the latest trends in IT, technology, and other related industries will stand you in good stead as well. With the current movement headed in the direction of cloud computing and mobile technology, it will be good to be familiar with concepts such as software defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), mobile money, and data privacy and security.
Aside from good technical understanding, graduates will also benefit from having strong problem solving abilities and analytical/research skills, attention to detail, as well as communication skills. It is also important that you are able to work effectively, both in a team environment or on your own.
Pros and cons
Work in this field can be very interesting due to the variety in job responsibilities, which evolves in tandem with the rapid development of telecommunications technology and the industries that you are involved in.
There is also a chance for you to work with cutting edge technology and to work on challenges involved in rolling out huge telecoms networks. Many employees working in the telecommunications industry are also inspired by their involvement in improving the industry further.
However, work can get frustrating when networks go down and you are faced with the pressure of repairing the system or infrastructure. The speedy development of the industry also means that you’ll have to be self-motivated to keep up or you might get left behind.
Hardware Development: Graduate Area of Work
Technology graduates interested in hardware development jobs will be in charge of upgrading or building existing systems to accommodate the needs of their clients.
The hardware industry is very wide-ranging and often covers a broad spectrum as almost all industries will need some form of hardware product to operate – some requiring more than others.
In Singapore, key industries that will benefit most from a developed hardware sector include electronics, manufacturing, telecommunications, defence, and aerospace; but it also serves and supports other less typical sectors such as tourism. The recent rise of the mobile and “smart” technology has also invigorated the sector.
Due to its inclusivity, graduates hoping to join this industry can find opportunities in various markets, primarily with IT employers that have hardware development divisions. There are also many specialist IT service providers that focus only on developing hardware for certain industries, and may be an alternative option for graduate computer scientists, engineers, and physicists as well.
Most graduates joining major organisations will be invited to enter through graduate schemes, but there are also those who prefer to hire directly into a position. If you are recruited through graduate schemes, then there is a high chance of being rotated around the sub-divisions/teams of the hardware development department.
You will then be able to gain a quick exposure of how the whole department functions. Otherwise, you will be mentored and are expected to develop your skills through hands-on experience.
Typically, graduate recruits in this industry are initiated into work with a small scale project and a small area of responsibility to wet your feet. For instance, you may be asked to assist one of your team members with one of his/her tasks as he/she guides you along the way.
Once your manager/mentor feels that you are ready, you can then begin to manage certain tasks or parts of a project on your own before letting you take part in more formal technical projects.
Task-wise, you will be involved in a lot of upgrading and improving of the current configuration of the machines that you are responsible for. IT specialists in this industry often need to review and analyse the existing system to identify flaws, and then develop new designs that can be integrated to help improve performance.
However, some of you – especially those of you who are working with specialised IT services providers – may also be working with clients who outsource projects requesting for the development of a completely new hardware. Often, you’ll be involved in the production process, and may be required to test the prototypes for quality checks.
Most employers don’t limit their recruitment by degrees, and are generally willing to hire graduates with a good numerate and technical degree, especially those with an electronics component to them. Apart from electronic engineering, physics, mathematics, and computer science graduates are also generally welcomed to apply for positions in the industry.
That said, there are some organisations and positions which call for specific degrees as they will require specialist knowledge. In these instances, having a postgraduate qualification or professional degree may stand you in better stead than other candidates.
If you intend to grow your career in the area of research and development, you should also consider doing a postgraduate study to give you an edge over the competition.
It is also crucial that you are able to demonstrate understanding of the latest developments in the industry. For instance, there is widespread demand for increased device speed, but what are some of the ways to reconcile it with the battery life, processor requirements, and design limitations?
There is also an introduction of FPGA technology, a kind of programmable semiconductor application that makes late amendments in the design cycle possible – something that is not previously conceivable.
Be sure to develop good communication and teamwork abilities as well, as you’ll have to be able to nurture a good working relationship with your team members. It’s also crucial that you cultivate commercial awareness – being able to assess customer/industry needs can help you in the long run.
Pros and cons
Working in this field will not be dull as you’ll be involved in a wide range of roles and responsibilities, such as electronic design (schematics) and programming (firmware/software), testing, mechanical design, and design ergonomics. There is also a chance to travel as many companies opt to have their production plant in Singapore or other countries within the region, with their headquarters elsewhere.
However, career progression might be slower than your peers in other industries, and constant continuing education is necessary in order for you to remain relevant in the field.
Games Development: Graduate Area of Work
Working in the games sector means working with people from a variety of disciplines, but who all share the same passion as you.
There is no denying the growth that the global gaming industry has been experiencing in the past few decades and the impact that it has on the current generation. Singapore is not exempted from this development, and the government has been very supportive of the relatively young games sector within the country.
In a move to encourage further progress, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) has collaborated with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) to launch the Games Solution Centre (GSC), a resource facility that caters to the needs of many small-medium games enterprises in Singapore, including a PlayStation Incubation Studio.
IMDA has also teamed up with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to launch a SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme.
Thanks to the country’s solid IT infrastructure, ease of communication and transportation, as well as ready talent pool, many international industry players – such as Ubisoft, Gumi Asia, Konami Singapore, and Tecmo Koei – have made Singapore their base around this region. There is no lack of homegrown companies either, such as Daylight Studios, Touch Dimensions, and LambdaMu.
The production of games is an extremely complex process and requires the expertise of people from a variety of disciplines – e.g project managers, musicians, artists and animators, as well as programmers – which can be further broken down into even more specialist roles.
IT and computing graduates will be able to find many employment opportunities here, but the sector is a competitive one and will require a lot of preparation.
Despite the generally competitive nature of the industry, the increasing number of mobile/tablet and independent game companies is presenting new entry-level positions for graduates.
As a graduate-level recruit, you usually start out as a junior programmer, working with a mentor and a team where you’re expected to pick up key skills that are necessary in the industry.
As you pick up these skills, it would be wise to keep an eye out for your preference or affinity for certain ones, which you can then develop further to help progress in your career.
Following that, you can become an authority in a speciality area, leading a team of your own. Alternatively, you could also take a lead production role if you’d prefer to oversee the whole production process instead of focusing only on one scope of the cycle.
On most days, your schedule shouldn’t be too hectic, although that may change if you have a deadline coming up, usually nearing product completion. You’ll also have the chance to work alongside a very varied crowd – animators, designers, audio engineers, programmers, etc. – as everyone strives to perfect your product for the public.
That said, some gaming companies are beginning to cease long-term, full-time recruitment, preferring contractual/project-based hires instead. You will need to keep your ears to the ground to find out about these opportunities, so networking can be very important.
Alternatively, if the time is right, you can also take advantage of the support system offered within Singapore and set up your own independent studio.
Don’t be discouraged if you want to work a technical job in this sector but lack a degree in computer science. The games sector is typically quite open to other degrees with technical skills, so candidates with physics, mathematics, and engineering backgrounds will feel welcomed.
If you’re aiming to become a developer, make sure that you have good core programming skills and an understanding of code controls hardware.
Many employers are also fond of candidates who showcase great interest in technology, with a good understanding of upcoming trends and new technology innovations.
For instance, the rise of the tablet and mobile gaming market has caused a decline in market interest in consoles, forcing developers to reconsider how they can revolutionise the gaming industry.
The introduction of innovations like the virtual reality head-mounted displays to push the boundaries of the gaming experience are also noteworthy updates that you should take note of.
Other than that, be sure to develop various soft skills as well – good interpersonal, presentation, and documentation skills will definitely stand you in good stead. Analytical skills and good business sense are also vital abilities that can help you in the long run as you will need to know how to market your products to your target market as well.
Pros and cons
Working in the gaming industry can be a tremendously exhilarating experience as you’ll be exposed to new inventions and innovations all the time.
With gaming programmers all over the world being extremely willing to experiment with the different ways to improve the gaming experience, you’re bound to be marvelled not only by the complex coding and formula, but also the quality of the animation and the scores.
Many programmers are also enthusiastic about working with a multidisciplinary team as they’ll get the chance to interact and network with people outside of their own field. This exposes you to different perspectives of viewing a product, and may lead to the creation of an even better game.
Being around people who are equally passionate about your game is an added plus too.
Financial Technology: Graduate Area of Work
Helping banks and insurance firms apply technological innovations to enhance the efficiency of financial services.
The financial technology sector, also known as FinTech, has led to the innovation of traditional financial services and opened up employment opportunities in the industry.
Singapore – as an international financial and IT hub in the Southeast Asian region – is generally fast to adopt most new technologies, and has supported the growth of new applications and processes, such as internet and mobile banking, across the commercial and private banking sectors.
Graduates keen on this field can look forward to working on technologies that aim to automate parts of the banking industry, in addition to lending support functions like handling data management, interactions, and transactions between financial firms and their partners or clients.
Employers are made up of established financial institutions, technology companies, as well as start-up companies, and they typically fall under one of the following three categories:
- Product providers: Organisations that offer financial products, such as retail and online banks, investment management companies, as well as insurance and actuarial firms. This may also include other less conventional corporations that provide financial services and products.
- Service providers: Companies that work hand-in-hand with product providers to offer advisory and other forms of assistance. Financial advisors, actuarial firms, and other business consultancy organisations fall into this category.
- Technology providers: Technology “partners” to product and service providers that cater to their software and technology services needs.
In most cases, product and service providers tend to be dominated by large organisations, and most will have a graduate programme prepared to introduce their graduate recruits to the IT functions available within the company (e.g. operations, infrastructure/architecture, security, etc.).
The period of the programme may last up to 3 to 6 months, and at the end of it, you will be assigned to specialise in a field you’re most comfortable with.
Technology providers, on the other hand, are typically smaller in size, and will recruit graduates directly into specific roles instead of graduate programmes. It is also common for employers to put you in charge of responsibilities early into your role, and expectations can be quite steep, so you will need to be able to manage your employers’ expectations.
Also, while your colleagues working with product and service providers may be exposed to more areas during their rotations, working with technology providers lets you develop a focused range of skills at a faster rate.
As an IT personnel – sometimes also referred to as IT engineers – your work will typically revolve around a few functions:
- Application development: Where you develop applications and software to improve the organisation’s facilities.
- Infrastructure: Where you are in charge of building and maintaining the components – both hardware and software – required to host the programs (e.g. servers, networks, data storage, disaster recover, and desktop terminals).
- Support: Where you assist users (e.g. staff members or customers) and handle troubleshooting when required. Your job will involve more client-facing responsibilities compared to the other two roles.
One of the main criteria to join this industry is your passion for technology and the financial services industry, as well as substantial knowledge of the latest trends taking place in both sectors. For instance, many economists and IT experts in the financial services industry are touting the popularity of bitcoin-inspired currency systems and other FinTech (finance technology) efforts.
There has also been discussions about crowd-sourced identity systems that are based off social media. Being aware of the more intricate details of these trends will help you stand out with recruiters.
Do your best to portray good communication, social, and problem-solving skills as well because more often than not, you will be working in teams, and your job will revolve around a lot of troubleshooting and trial-and-error.
Having patience and a good eye for detail is also equally important. Integrity and credibility are also immensely critical as someone working in the financial services sector, particularly as you may be involved in the management of massive and confidential financial data of organisations such as banks.
Employers in this field also tend to be more relaxed about their graduates’ academic degree – a computer science degree is not absolutely necessary – although they do have a preference for candidates with a numerate or scientific degree.
Pros and cons
Many IT personnel find satisfaction in being able to serve the finance community both on a national and global stage, knowing that they have contributed to more efficient banking experience. This sector is also for you if you are interested in holding a tech position, but want to be involved in a commercial-oriented sector as well.
Learning opportunities are also in abundance as you’ll have to constantly keep yourself updated with the latest technologies used in the financial services industry. The compensation package is also generally more rewarding.
On most days, work-life balance is quite guaranteed, but every now and then, you may be required to stay back after regular working hours for systems/network maintenance.
Financial Software Development: Graduate Area of Work
Software developers are crucial to the development of the IT infrastructure of the finance industry.
Financial organisations are becoming increasingly dependent on their IT systems and a variety of software applications to provide a smoother and more efficient service to their customers. From data analysis to planning investments to trading activities, traders, asset managers, and analysts will rely on either a customised or off-the-rack software to help them make better, faster decisions, and to perform better.
Recognising the importance of financial software development in order to stay ahead of other industry players, most financial institutions do invest in an in-house software development team to maintain and develop the software that their colleagues need.
However, as the needs of financial organisations grow and become more complex, it has become increasingly common for them to outsource their software development tasks to specialist software development companies knowledgeable in a few fields:
- Application design and development (greenfield)
- Application enhancement and re-engineering (legacy)
- Enterprise integration
- Technology and architecture consultancy
With Singapore recently introducing the iN2015 Masterplan and aiming to become one of the top three Knowledge Process Outsourcing/Offshoring hubs in Asia Pacific for the development and processing of financial services, this industry has gained even more importance.
Graduates entering this industry are typically hired by specialist software development companies or major financial institutions, where they usually start off their employment with a period of training – whether a structured graduate programme with rotations, or training with mentorship – that lasts for three to six months.
You will be expected to learn on the job even as you are coached by your senior colleagues, and the learning curve can be quite steep.
Given that this industry is an intersection of sorts between IT and finance, you’ll find yourself working in projects with complex mathematical models, large data sets, distributed and high speed systems, as well as information security measures.
Depending on the complexity of your client’s requests and the scale of it, these projects can take a few days to a few years to complete – and it can also affect other aspects of your working environment (e.g. the size of your team, etc.).
Most developers are usually involved in several projects at one time, both long-term and short-term ones; so if you’re not working on large back-end systems or new software that might take years to complete, then you are likely to spend a chunk of your time on simpler projects like upgrading existing systems to make it even more efficient and user-friendly (e.g. simpler graphical interfaces (GUIs)).
This industry is also always looking for new ways to push the boundaries of technology and to solve problems presented by their clients, so you’ll find a lot of fun and excitement experimenting with old and new tech solutions. The fast-changing trends in the IT industry also causes the business atmosphere to be a very fast-paced and variable one.
In terms of career progression, you can opt to develop yourself in either a technical or managerial role, with plenty of opportunities for rapid career development.
Employers in this industry tend to hire graduates with mathematical, computing, engineering or scientific academic background, although graduates from other disciplines trained in IT can apply as well.
Don’t forget to develop soft skills to complement your technical knowledge. While your technical skills are necessary to help you complete your tasks effectively, soft skills are what makes you efficient. Flexibility is one important trait that you need to have if you want to work in this field as frequent changes are the norm here – e.g. the clients’ requirements, new technology solutions, and regulations introduced.
Having a problem-solving mindset is equally crucial, as well as a thorough approach to your work. Always make sure to consider your client’s request from various perspectives so that you can always suggest the best solution to them. Keep an eye out for upcoming finance technology (FinTech) solutions and R&D as well.
Pros and cons
Many financial software developers enjoy being able to work with the best of two worlds: the IT and finance industry. Working in this industry lets you keep up with the latest technological development as well as understand the latest financial market trends, and how both can impact each other.
If you’re an IT graduate with an interest in finance but do not necessarily want to work in a bank, then this is the job for you.
You may also regularly come across demanding clients, and your work may be made more complicated by the constant development of technology, but if you like a challenge, then you will find a lot of enjoyment working in this industry.