DSO National Laboratories: How to Get Hired

Serene gives an insight on key qualities candidates should possess when applying for opportunities at DSO National Laboratories.
Serene Tan
Director of Human Resources & Communications

What kinds of knowledge and skill sets do you look for in applicants?

DSO’s mission is to develop game-changing technological surprises to sharpen the cutting edge of Singapore’s defence capabilities. Defence R&D is our core business. Our work spans across multi-disciplinary domains, so we need passionate individuals with a good degree in the sciences or engineering.

Beyond qualifications, we want individuals with a keen interest in R&D, a bold imagination, and a relentlessness in transforming ideas into reality. The key attribute we look for is a desire to make a difference for the nation with your work.

Describe the assessment process for applicants to your organisation.

We try to match fresh graduates to jobs most suited to their interests. To do that, shortlisted candidates will meet with our senior management early in the recruitment process. Because work environment is also a crucial factor, candidates will be invited on lab tours where they get to see our exciting work, get a feel of their work areas, and interact with their future co-workers and immediate supervisors.

What aspects of a graduate's academic experience would you consider most important?

It is important that your degree and modules reflect your keen interest in a chosen area of R&D. This includes project work which may involve research or design. A degree from a reputable university as well as good grades in key engineering or science modules are important.

In addition, your involvement in co-curricular activities and internships will also bear testimony to your range of interests, hard and soft skills, as well as practical experience. 
Candidates will also stand out from the crowd if they have spent time in internships or relevant jobs that build up their practical experience.

What advice would you give to keen applicants who do not possess the relevant academic qualifications?

If you have the passion for the job, you will have the determination to start somewhere. Be specific and clearly express your interest and determination to get into the field. Highlight relevant skills. Read up and be prepared to discuss the position in depth with your interviewers. Don’t give up!

Does your organisation offer any internship programmes?

DSO offers internships of varying durations both locally and overseas. They are specially designed such that undergraduates are exposed to real-life defence R&D work. On top of that, interns get to be immersed in various programmes just like a DSO employee would.

To make the most out of these programmes, have an open mind and a positive attitude to challenges. All interns will be mentored by one of our DSO’s scientists and engineers. So be inquisitive, ask lots of questions and learn from experience. Don’t be shy – offer your point of view!

How do you identify culture fit during the recruitment process?

We want the interviewee to be able to identify with the values of the organisation. DSO’s values are Knowledge Seeking, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork, Innovativeness, and Customer focus (KINETIC). The fit can be established when we discuss your experience working in teams (internships and CCAs), and the examples you cite about challenging work and people relationships.