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IT and Technology
FDM Group: How to Get Hired
Jaslyn advices on the attributes FDM Group looks for when selecting potential candidates.
Please describe the assessment process for applicants to your organisation.
- Apply online
- Phone interview
- Assessment Centre
What are the skill sets you look for in fresh graduate applicants?
- A degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics related discipline
- Determination to build a successful career in IT and finance
- Excellent written and spoken English, with strong interpersonal skills
Please give us an example of an area which your organisation is focusing on in developing talents.
- A personally tailored learning pathway including fully-funded training and award-winning industry skills development
- Commercial experience working on site with our vast client base
- Fast-track career progression
Does your company have a structured graduate programme?
FDM is a global network and by joining the Programme you will benefit from the years of international experience and industry expertise that the company has gained as well as its renowned reputation.
How do you identify culture fit during the recruitment process?
FDM is committed to championing diversity in the workplace and enjoys a community rich with different cultures, nationalities and academic backgrounds. FDM proudly champions women in IT and actively encourages and supports females pursuing a career in technology.
Please describe your company's culture in three words.
Diverse, Ambition, Energy.
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:
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.
- 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.
Submitted by Nurhuda Syed on Wed, 2017-05-17 20:00
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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.
IT in Retail: Graduate Area of Work
IT is crucial in helping retailers share information between its functions and in integrating the business to serve their customers better.
Nearly every function in the retail industry – e.g. the sourcing of new products, management of distribution networks, in-store point-of-sale systems, and administration responsibilities (such as HR and finance) – requires the involvement of IT and technology to a degree.
In most cases, IT is used to achieve a couple of objectives: to improve the accuracy and availability of information on every level, and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the business. However, the emergence of online retailers have brought the use of IT in retail to a whole new level.
Most retailers, especially international ones, have their own in-house IT team/department to cater to their key IT needs and projects.
However, complex projects that require more advanced or specialist skills will usually be outsourced to third-party IT services providers, with the internal IT team coordinating and assisting as and when needed (e.g. identifying the services needed, initiating interaction with the service providers, and integrating the new software with existing systems).
Although the retail industry in Singapore is still demonstrating positive growth and is considered one of the country’s key services sectors, it is also showing noticeable signs of slowing down with many high-profile retailers slowly pulling out of the country or consolidating their operations within the country.
A number of reasons account for these pull-outs, including high rentals and overhead costs, difficulty in hiring, and falling consumer sentiment.
As an IT personnel in the retail industry, you may find yourself positioned anywhere along the chain of business to help improve the flow of information and to integrate the different functions within the business, although responsibility-wise, there will be a lot of programming involved regardless of where you are stationed.
Most large retailers offer graduate IT recruitment programmes once every year, which can last from one to two years. During the course of the programme, you will be rotated through several roles and departments to give you a broader view of the business as a whole, as well as to expose you to various programming and business analysis skills before deciding on a permanent role that matches your skills.
Once you’ve settled into a permanent role, you’ll work with teams – usually multidisciplinary – on projects to troubleshoot and maintain the servers and networks used within the organisation. Career progression might take some time as you’ll need to gain quite a bit of experience before you get promoted to senior programmer or analyst.
However, if you prefer a more people-oriented role, you can also consider taking up management opportunities instead.
Take note of some of the emerging trends and technologies that are changing or influencing the direction of the industry as well. For instance, RFID (radio frequency ID) is a growing topic of interest as some retailers have been using the system to help track their products through the supply chain.
The use of information gathering/data-mining also sparks discussion as retailers try to learn more about their consumers’ buying preferences.
Within Singapore, it is also important to keep an eye on the latest challenges facing the employers, such as new competitors or changing market conditions. The growing e-commerce industry in the country continues to be a part of the discussion, and trends like pop-up stores or cost-saving solutions should be noted as well.
Employers in this industry don’t necessarily hire based on your degree background, even for IT positions, which means that you don’t necessarily have to have a computing, mathematics, or science-related degree if you want to work an IT job in this industry. Of course, having previous experience or IT-related skills will allow you to grasp concepts and specialise in an area faster than your peers, but more important to the employers is your capacity and willingness to learn as you’ll be expected to pick up analytical and programming skills on the job.
Another skill that you should possess if you intend to break into this industry is commercial awareness. An understanding of how the retail business works will make it easier for you to see how your IT skills can add value to existing systems/networks and benefit both your employer and their clients. Teamwork and good communication skills are also valuable abilities, as is an analytical mind and the ability to adapt to a constantly-changing environment.
Pros and cons
Programmers working in this industry often tout the variety in their work as one of the pros of their job because they can move between different functional areas relatively easily. This also means getting exposed to different experiences, roles, and skills – as well as plenty of chances to network with different groups of people. The rapid changes in the retail environment also makes work exciting – you’ll have to be able to adapt and react according to new business demands quickly.
That said, one grouse that programmers working in this industry have is the slower career progression compared to other industries, although that may be eclipsed by your desire to make a difference in the retail industry.