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Reality bites: What it's really like for a fresh grad in Singapore

One fresh graduate parses fact and fiction as she shares her perspective of being out in the real world

On Saturday (Oct 8),  Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say gave fresh graduates a reality check. According to earlier media reports, while he was at a tea session organised by the Young Sikh Association and Sikh Centre at the National Library, he told the attendees he would be frank. "You're just sitting there waiting for the perfect job, but what if it doesn't come? Will you just sit there? The longer you stay out of employment, the harder it is to come back," he said.

That message has evidently struck a chord. One fresh graduate shares his perspective of being out in the real world.

After 15 long years as a student in Singapore, I’ve finally entered the working world as a fresh grad. While school has definitely been fun, the grass is always greener on the other side, don’t you think? As a student, I’ve always wanted to graduate ASAP and start working.

As a rookie in the corporate world, however, I know now things are not as rosy as I’ve expected them to be.

Allow me to spill the beans on life after graduation, based on my own experience. In short, you probably need to adjust, no, change your expectations. 

Expectation 1: An excellent GPA will get me my dream job


You can mug really hard and score all the As you want, but it won’t guarantee a high-paying job. Not when times are this bad, and competition this stiff. Soft skills such as your mannerism, confidence and presentation skills are even more important during interviews to land yourself the coveted job.

Expectation 2: I can finally stop studying after graduation

Reality: NOT TRUE

It looks like the books are here to stay. Unfortunately, you might be expected to go for courses related to your job, and you probably can’t study during working hours. On the bright side, however, you are paid to study. Personally, I’m considering taking up different courses and even a Master’s degree just to up my game.

Expectation 3: I can finally afford big ticket items

Reality: HALF TRUE

Well, you do earn more than a student’s allowance, and if you plan your finances well, luxury goods are attainable. However, you’ll also have to start paying for your own bills, loans and perhaps even for your parents’ allowances… sometimes I feel poorer now than I did as a student. Remember to save. A lot.

Expectation 4: I will do something related to my degree


You do not always end up with a job you are schooled for, and I only realised that towards the end of my university journey. I was studying marketing, but I ended up in the tourism sector. While your degree can guide you towards a particular job path, you may or may not end up taking it.

Expectation 5: I will find a work-life balance


High stress levels (yes we’re talking about KPIs) and long hours at work can take a toll on your physical and mental health, and especially so if you have to work during the weekends. Luckily for me, my weekends are fairly untouched, so I get to spend time with my loved ones, as well as work on non-work related activities like this feature.

Well I’m definitely not trying to scare our potential graduates here, but as long as you have a positive attitude and think positively, work can be very fulfilling. Good luck!

This story first appeared on 

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