I graduated with a bachelor degree in Communications Science from University of Indonesia in 2015. August 2015, to be exact. I was quiet active in networking and participating in students’ events during my university years. I also received a full scholarship from National University of Singapore during those years. So in 2013, I took a semester abroad, in Singapore (the story of how I could get the scholarship can be found in this link: https://dindadwitapuspasari.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/meraih-beasiswa-ke-national-university-of-singapore/ )
At NUS, I took 4 classes, in which each of them was worth 4 credits, so I could transfer 16 credits back to my home university at the end of the semester. One of the classes I took was called “Professional Communication”. There were only about 12 students in that class, so we were assigned to make small groups consisting of 3 – 4 students each. I was in a group with 3 other students, one of them is a full time NUS student from Indonesia. We got along very well, we did a research in Indonesia’s deforestation case, and we could even recommend an application to solve the case.
Long story short, we got good grades for that class, and I really think we learned each other’s working style from that project. Then I came back to my home university, finished my thesis, and graduated, while that guy also graduated from NUS and immediately joined a consulting company, Arthur D. Little Singapore.
I guess everybody could see how much I love Singapore. I was very happy to get a chance to study there, and I have always dreamed of working there. Nothing you cannot achieve, my mom once told me. So I keep on dreaming.
At the time of my graduation, I was already in a relationship with Marc, and we had been doing long distance relationship for almost a year, we were getting tired of it. Marc was working at Google Europe in Dublin, Ireland at that time. So we decided to aim to close the distance. Marc would be asking to be relocated to Singapore, and I was going to apply for jobs in Singapore. Why Singapore? Because it is going to be easier for Marc as it is a friendlier environment for expats, and it has always been the city that I love.
Unfortunately, Google Singapore did not have a position available for Marc, so he needed to change jobs. He found another job in a tech company in Singapore quite fast, so he would be moving to Singapore for sure. Now the problem was on me. As a recent graduate from an Indonesian university, it was quite hard for me to nail a job in Singapore, but I was not ready to give up yet. Then I had an offer to do an internship at the Embassy of Indonesia in Singapore. I thought it was a great start for a career in Singapore, because while still applying for job, I would already be inside the country, and I could also broaden my networks. So I took the offer and moved to Singapore in October 2015.
When I was working at the Embassy, that friend of mine from NUS contacted me and asked me if I would like to work for a project with his colleague. I received the brief and I felt interested, so I took the job after my term at the Embassy finished. That way, I could also stay a little bit longer in Singapore. By the way, Singaporean companies pay really well 😉
Before I finished the project, my friend offered me another job opportunity, this time as a Management Associate in a shipping and trading company. He then connected me with the employee of that company, so I got a direct reference from her. Not long after that, I actually got a call from the HR Director in that company for an interview. I went for the interview, I think I did a good job because then the company called me for the second interview, directly with the CEO, which whom I will be directly reporting to if I got the job.
So yeah, in conclusion, for my case, networking is very important. At the end, I got the job, and it all thanks to that friend I met at NUS. Maybe this is not the ideal case as for most people they need to go through written test, either psychological or business case.
The other thing that makes it hard to work in Singapore is the working visa. Singapore has different types of working visa, and it is only the company that can apply for the working visa, which means that we need to get a job first before we can actually move to the country. As you know, Indonesians can get up to 30 days visa-free stay in Singapore, but we cannot and are not supposed to work with that visa. I don’t fully understand the regulation to obtain working visa in Singapore, but I will try to explain it based on my experience.
The type of working visa that we will get will depend on how much salary we get per month. S Pass will require a minimum salary of SGD 2,200, while Employment Pass will require SGD 3,500 minimum. If you compare this salary with the salary of a fresh grad in Indonesia, it is quite high. Since Singapore is a small but developed country, they have a lot of qualified productive age citizens, and they want to protect their own citizens so that the unemployment rate would go down. So they have this one regulation stating that each company has a quota of how many working visa for foreign employees that they obtain. That is why, they really need to think when it comes to hiring a foreign employee. They need to have a reason why they should sacrifice one spot of quota for you. Usually, it would be much easier if you are already a professional, meaning that you have years of experience in your field. In my case, I was very lucky because I could bring something special to offer to the company.
Back to my experience, my company in Singapore at that time was specifically looking for someone who can speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently as that person is needed to handle a new project with an Indonesian client. And there I came, fulfilling their need. It was just that I came at the right place in the right time.
My advice for you if you are a fresh grad wanting to apply for jobs in Singapore: have as many networks as possible, go out meeting people, and show them that you are capable of entering the global workforce, or you can also join discussions and organizations. And don’t forget to keep sharpening your skills in the field that you choose. Indonesian graduates have the same level of capabilities with the graduates from other countries, and it is our job to prove them so 🙂