For many fresh grads struggling to land a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking up a traineeship may not be their first choice but it has proven to open doors. In the spirit of celebrating the Singapore Spirit during our nation’s birthday month, we caught up with three tenacious trainees whose indomitable will-power coupled with hard work and talent earned them that well-deserved job offer.
Shary Lingad van Wees, 24, HR Analyst at Storms
Traineeship: Served 9 months as a HR Trainee Analyst; confirmed as a full-time staff in August 2021
Mid-way through her undergraduate studies, Shary Lingad van Wees, who majored in Statistics, had an epiphany. “I know that I’m capable of becoming a statistician, given my background, but it’s not something that I’m passionate about.” After she took on a leadership role in her university’s co-curricular activity, she discovered that she is a people person who finds joy in supporting others. “It made me realise that pursuing a career in HR would allow me to wake up in the morning and be excited about what I am doing.”
Without any prior industry exposure or educational background in HR, Shary grabbed a traineeship opportunity with Storms to kick-start her HR career. For this avid gamer, it certainly helps that her company is a gaming start-up!
How to work it till you make it: Shary never hesitated to ask questions when she faced something new. “Clarifying things and hearing your colleagues/mentors’ perspectives would help you navigate things better in a new working environment. It also allows you to gain a better understanding of what you’re doing, and how to do things much more efficiently.” Secondly, she advocates being passionate about what you do as it enhances your motivation at work. Last but not least, “you should not be afraid to voice out your opinions, do what is right and contribute your ideas!”
How her traineeship benefited her: Her traineeship with Storms not only introduced her to the world of HR, she also gained precious industry experience and made her realise that HR is the right career for her. “I can’t thank my mentor, Pauline Puay, enough for guiding me with the advice I need to thrive in HR, and I am grateful for this traineeship opportunity.”
What the Singapore Spirit means to Shary: “The Singapore Spirit is about ensuring harmony in diversity; it’s how Singaporeans gather together as one regardless of race, language or religion to overcome any adversity that may come our way.”
Jacintha Lim, 25, Assistant Account Manager at Harvest Accounting
Traineeship: Served 11 months as a Trainee Assistant Account Manager; confirmed in August 2021.
After graduating with an Accounting degree, Jacintha was concerned about securing a job during a pandemic. When she chanced upon the Traineeship programme, she jumped at it. “It would definitely provide a great learning opportunity that would allow me to gain further insights into the industry.”
Despite being nervous about her lack of experience, Jacintha’s company, Harvest Accounting, put her mind at ease with a very comprehensive onboarding and the training syllabus. It showed all the technical skillsets that she would be learning and the training duration of each skill, which enticed her to sign on. “It ensured that I was going to be constantly learning something new and relevant. It also let me know what I could expect once my programme commenced, enabling me to have enough time to prepare myself for work,” says a relieved Jacintha.
How to work it till you make it: Firstly, accept vulnerability. Rather than to stay silent to avoid being seen as incompetent, she “swallowed my pride and fear, raising any possible doubts or red flags that I encountered.” Despite feeling vulnerable, it was worth the trade-off as it helped improve her knowledge. Secondly, focus on the big picture. Instead of feeling defeated by every little setback she encountered, she adopted a healthier mindset of taking a step back and focusing on the long-term goal: consistency and gradual improvement. “By implementing a paradigm shift, I realised that striving for incremental progress was much more realistic, which reduced the number of burn-outs drastically. This allowed me to always give my best, as opposed to feeling disheartened every time I made a mistake, which in turn would affect my job performance.”
Her final tip: “Graduating into a pandemic may seem scary and daunting at first, but time waits for no one. Time doesn't wait for you to be ‘mentally prepared’ before presenting you with opportunities. So when they do come knocking, it is up to you to acknowledge and make full use of it,” encourages Jacintha.
How her traineeship benefited her: During her previous part-time jobs, the job scopes stated often did not match her actual job deliverables. The full-time jobs she was interested in required years of experience which she didn’t have. “The Traineeship, on the other hand, allowed me to experience how it was like to run like full-time employees in such industries and gain first-hand experience on whether they align with my interests and long-term career goals.”
What the Singapore Spirit means to Jacintha: “Helping each other in the good times and the bad times!”
Daniella Ng, 29 years, Trainee Assistant Account Manager at Harvest Accounting
Traineeship: Current Position: Served 11 months as a Trainee Assistant Account Manager and offered a full-time position in August 2021
Trained in Sports Science and Management, Daniella worked two years as a Research Officer in Geriatric Research, before deciding to earn her Master’s degree in Professional Accounting. She was thankful that the SG United Traineeship programme was launched just as she was completing her studies.
“Having made an unconventional mid-career switch into accounting, I was open to anyone who was willing to take me under their wings. I was elated to be provided the chance to have hands-on experience of working at an accounting firm, and thankful that Harvest Accounting saw a potential in me,” says Daniella. Another plus: She was comforted by the fact that Harvest Accounting is a Christian-based company and her first encounter with her bosses, Bryan and Matthew, was positive and encouraging.
How to work it till you make it: “Being passionate and having genuine care for our clients’ business fuels my drive towards my work and relationship with our clients,” says Daniella. She also advocates that trainees should have a good attitude and be willing to learn, especially with the advancement in technologies, the changes in tax provisions, rebates, and accounting standards. “Finally, take responsibility and ownership of the tasks that are assigned to you. Be diligent and always give your best!”
How her traineeship benefited her: Daniella is grateful for the opportunity to experience life as an accountant servicing small and medium enterprises in Singapore. “Compared to working in-house in a finance department where the scope of work may be assigned to only one aspect of accounting, I’m provided the experience of handing a full set of accounts, across multiple sectors in Singapore where each client has different requirements and needs.”
What the Singapore Spirit means to Daniella: “Resilience. We are quick to adapt to difficult situations toward greater success.”
Box story: Tips from the Bosses!
What to convert your traineeship into a full-time gig? Here are some tried-and-tested tips from two bosses.
“Everyone starts somewhere. Even the leaders and seasoned industry professionals whom we know today were once interns or trainees who tried to figure things out in the industry. What made them who they are today are their positive work ethics, attitude towards the organisation’s culture, and their willingness to keep learning and contribute to the organisation. These are qualities that every company – whether it’s a startup or a multinational company – will appreciate. I see these qualities in Shary. She always goes above and beyond, and voices out her ideas on how we can make certain processes more efficient.
For managers looking for an SG United trainee, be open and willing to let these talented trainees try out new things. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results! As for young adults who are seeking job opportunities, be confident when sharing about your passion with others, and be humble to learn from others. Above all, be courageous and believe in yourself. Take every learning opportunity that comes your way seriously. It will add to your repertoire of skills, which will bode well as you embark on this new chapter of your life!” – Pauline Puay, Vice President of Human Resources, Storms
“Employers will greatly value trainees who have a positive learning attitude and a desire to contribute to the growth of the organisation. When faced with challenges, always keep an open mind, ask questions and seek guidance from other colleagues who are more experienced. Take the initiative to schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins with your line managers to make sure you are progressing well in your development, and fulfilling your Key Performance Indicators. Remember that you are in charge of your own learning and always invest in yourself by honing both technical knowledge and soft skills such as collaboration, communication and confidence!” – Bryan Zhao, Chartered Accountant (Singapore), Founding Partner of Harvest Accounting Pte. Ltd.
If you like these stories, be sure to also check out the other featured trainees' stories "Kudos to You Trainees" and "Why you should consider Traineeship"
To get the latest updates from Young NTUC including upcoming events and career resources, follow Young NTUC on their social platforms: LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook