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Young, Jobless and at a Dead End in the Singapore Job Market

Teardrops on her guitar

Teardrops on her guitar

RADIAH: I’m in my mid-twenties and currently feeling down and struggling to find a job. I haven’t got a stable job for months now since the start of 2014. I was terminated from my most recent job as an admin assistant in a small baking studio back in late June after only starting to work there for just seven days due to unsatisfactory performance such as inability to cope with the administrative work and was left to my own devices when I asked for help during my probation there.

I had a tough time adapting to tasks such as using Google documents and was shocked that on the third day of my tenure there, my superiors did not tell me that a job interview for the role of admin assistant would take place on that day and asked me to mind my tasks instead. An interviewee turned up then and I wasn’t informed beforehand about it? That’s when I started to sense something fishy there. My senses tell me I wouldn’t last long there.

My mistake was that I took up Office Skills and Business Administration in ITE after my secondary school graduation, because at that point of time, due to peer pressure around me then and the fact that it was in hot demand due to the then-upcoming integrated resorts, Formula 1 races, YOG and what-not; only to realize years later that doing anything clerical admin isn’t going to lead me to anywhere.

Had my first termination back in April 2012 from a data entry job, then worked as a contract temp for ICA HQ for a year and 4 months (which led to unhappiness,under-appreciation and sometimes vocal discord amongst colleagues and supervisor) doing simple back-end admin tasks such as filing up immigration-related application forms into their case files, scan barcodes and send to uniformed officers and data entry officers.

During my time in ICA, favoritism towards people with diplomas, degrees and above and those with family/spousal/sibling ties within ICA and other stat boards was very common to the point that it did bruise my ego and self-esteem. Whatever I learnt in ITE was underutilized or not utilized at all at work. I was underpaid too, my gross salary would be around $1.1-1.2k. I would bring back around $700-900 as basic pay. There were no fringe benefits as a temp and some people said to me that ICA is trying to exploit me. Seeing colleagues and old friends in other industries get promoted and are paid higher left me jealous and livid. Always doing back-end admin stuff and then suddenly exposed to facing clients and talking to customers on the phone or email also affected the way I communicate effectively with people at work later on.

Teardrops on her guitar

Teardrops on her guitar

I let my ICA contract expire in late Oct 2013 and then worked at Isetan HQ as Clerical Assistant from mid-Nov to New Year’s Eve last year, then as a Postal Officer at SingPost Ayer Rajah Delivery Base from this March to mid-April, with the latter left me overworked and burned out as the working place that I was posted to was too far from home in Toa Payoh and located in a remote industrial estate at one-north, Buona Vista area.

I think I’ve been out of job for 6 months now. Job-search wise, I did consider thinking of switching to other industries such as Early Childhood Education and Healthcare (positions like Patient Services Officer, Receptionist) sectors, only to realize they aren’t meant for me and it baffles me that even for Infant Care Educarer position, you need to have at least a WDA cert or diploma, or a HMI cert for just even a Patient Services Officer. I did attend job fairs by e2i, expos, search online portals such as JobsDB and Jobscentral and even seek help from recruitment agencies, CDC and Mendaki SENSE for help but they can’t help much with my job search process.

Chances of me getting a successful interview and long-term securing of a job are slim to none. My interviewing skills are awful as I get nervous and hesitate a lot by stuttering and be at lost for words. Even friends that I used to have distanced themselves away from me when they know about my current predicament, thinking that my problems would be disturbing their peace. Also I don’t have any loyal character references to refer to in resumes. Back in late May this year, a private IT institution named Lithan Hall Academy, located at Paya Lebar Lifelong Learning Institute, called me up out of the blue, inviting me to their talk and eventually I signed up for their Express IT in IT Networking Systems course which lasts for 5 months through night classes on certain weeknights and is WDA-approved.

The thought of switching to IT crossed my mind; in fact I did think of taking up IT after my O levels in either ITE or Poly or both and beyond. The only subjects that I look forward to in my school days were learning MS Office and a bit of Dreamweaver, apart from English, Mother Tongue and History classes despite not acing the subjects that well. I thought, why not take up, maybe I’ll find my true passion in here. They have frequent recruitment drives from various IT outsource firms but so far no firm has ever got back to me for subsequent interviews and signing contracts.

I’m also at a great disadvantage since I’m still brand-new to switching to this IT sector, employers are more likely to hire people with vast IT working experience and those with diploma/degree and above in IT/Computer Sciences. Socializing-wise, I was told that I’m starting to open up to people once again though still facing shyness ever since I started taking up these IT classes on June 30.

My closest friend that I haven’t talked in months says that it’s okay to feel this way – I should try see this as an chance to start over a clean slate and leave behind all the pain I endured then and now. She was the only one who sees the resilience, strength and courage in me when I’m blinded with my woes. I still face sadness over isolation from people whom I used to regard as friends, only to find that none of them stick with me through the dirt. I’m thinking if a part-time job outside of IT will at least restore my personal fund level for the moment and to also foot the bills, bring food to the table and give some money to parents out of filial piety and goodwill. But I don’t know what sort of part-time job will do during this time.

 

 

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