Once upon a time, everyone assumes that a hard-earned diploma or degree will get us that full-time job easily and smoothly. Unfortunately, COVID-19 threw recent graduates a major curveball when the economy suffered and many businesses had a hire freeze. Many of our youths have since taken on traineeships but hey, don’t view this as a higher-paid internship! If you play your cards right, with the right aptitude and attitude, a traineeship can lead to that coveted full-time position or open new doors. Pick up these tried-and-tested tips from our intrepid trainees.
#1: Self-study, learn from different stakeholders, form a strong support network
Guyrence Tan, 30, graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of The Arts Singapore, Goldsmith University
What he does: An E-learning Resource Developer with a local Institute of Higher Learning (IHL), Guyrence’s day-to-day duties include transferring lecture notes and turning them into E-learning, gamification, and even transforming them into the world of Escape Rooms.
“This traineeship allows me to continue my learning in the Educational industry as I plan to go into this industry. I also get the opportunity to learn new software that the lecturers use, as well as learn the ropes from different stakeholders.”
Guyrence’s tip: “I had some difficulties adapting at first due to various factors, such as allowance issues, being isolated from the rest and not expanding my network. But I managed to self-study independently, research on new software through online learning and also watch vlogs on other people’s working life. Of course, I had to put in a lot of time but learning these new skills gave me new perspectives. Engaging support groups such as Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s e2i also made me feel more motivated, knowing that they are others out there with real struggles that I could relate to.
I voiced out the issue of conversion to a full-time position but was sad to know that there is a hiring freeze at my current IHL so I will be ending my traineeship in May 2021. As I also say goodbye to my late twenties and enter my thirties, traditionally, society would see me as being late entering the workforce. However, I see this as the correct time and age for me to continue to learn as much as I can, while contributing to both society and the arts.”
#2: Be purposeful when choosing your traineeship, so as to gain experience and skills in the field you want to build your career in
Johanna Yeang, 21, graduated with a diploma in Mass Communication, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
What she does: As a trainee at Young NTUC, Johanna helps with the planning of various programmes that her host organisation curates. Being in the age group of their target audience allows her to connect with them better through their social media channels, which she creates some content for. She chose to take on a traineeship instead of any other job that could pay better but offer less learning opportunities, precisely because she valued the intangible benefits of developing specific important skills she felt would be helpful in her future career.
Johanna’s tip: “I originally planned to take a gap year to earn some cash and travel before pursuing a degree in August 2021, but my plans went down the drain when COVID-19 happened. Because I’m interested in social sciences and wanted to pursue a degree in that area, I decided to look for positions that will help me develop skills in that area.
Many people think that taking a traineeship is not ideal since there’s lesser pay and recognition. But I think it’s an opportunity that will be a waste to not take, especially when good opportunities are hard to come by now. Humbling ourselves to learn more is what will give us a beneficial edge in the future. Through this traineeship, I’ve picked up new skills and refined the ones I already have. The development plan that trainees have to complete every month also ensures that my host organisation takes steps to really help me learn and grow.
Having just started my career, there’re a lot of things that I was unsure of and didn’t fully understand, such as why certain decisions are made despite the feedback from our audience. I learnt to ask the right questions at the right time, especially when others have their own work to do as well. Sometimes, the answers can be found by digging through previous files. If you want to be able to make a difference in the company and grow your skills, it’s important to take charge of your own learning.
It’s also important to plan ahead. A traineeship is just a stepping stone in a long journey ahead. But what makes the difference is having a goal in front of you that will motivate you and direct your development. For me, this traineeship will help me in providing the foundation I need to further my studies in social sciences. So, my goal would be to develop my soft skills when it comes to connecting with people. For everyone else, their traineeship will have different end goals. I think it’s important to recognise your goal first before you can truly start developing yourself in your traineeship.”
#3: Identify and learn transferable skills in your traineeship
Wilson Yeo, 28, graduated with a Bachelor in Criminology and Security, Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
What he does: Wilson joined Young NTUC in September 2020 and converted to full-time employment in April 2021. His job requires him to engage young workers and trainees via online platforms, curate workshops and programmes that fit their career development needs, and design new avenues of engagement with the youth workforce.
Wilson’s tip: “When you’re in a traineeship position, it is easy to be absorbed by the everyday tasks given to you. Before you know it, you’re nearing the end of your traineeship but have not identified any transferrable skills that would value add to your career portfolio.
Always be willing to be taught, learn as much as possible and explore different areas. For example, before I started my traineeship, I had little to no interest and experience in video editing. However, when given a chance, I volunteered to make a video. Putting myself in the position like this allows me the opportunity to research and try a new skill that I would otherwise never have thought to try.
To be honest, with no certainty of conversion after a traineeship, some trainees may just be going through the motion and use this opportunity as a stop-gap measure until the economy recovers. However, to me, I think it’s important to make use of this opportunity to the fullest by being open to learn. Even if the company does not actively develop you, you can still learn things like understanding different working styles of individuals or companies processes etc. These would still be relevant in your future workplace.”
If you are a #SGUnited Trainee reading this, do follow us at Young NTUC LIT XChange FB Group to get clued in on career support and tips.
For more career-related resources and support including job opportunities, please visit www.lit.sg (Young NTUC’s one-stop career portal) and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for latest updates!