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I Spent 9 Months Working In SG Only To Realise It Wasn’t The Place For Me As A Fresh Grad. Here’s Why

Bye for now.
In recent years, many Malaysian fresh graduates have prioritised seeking fortunes in Singapore due to multiple factors like market dynamics, job opportunities, and exchange rates.

Among them was JC, a fresh graduate with a degree in Architecture who ventured into Singapore to start her professional career.

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However, after just nine months, JC chose to return and pivot her career path in Malaysia. This decision has since raised the question: why did she leave the promising prospect of pursuing her architectural dream in Singapore?

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Start of a new journey

JC has always had a meticulous approach to life, having set her sights on specific objectives before venturing into the Singaporean workforce.

Jc graduation photo
Image provided to WeirdKaya

Even before she finished her studies, JC was aware that pursuing a career in Architecture would not be easy as it demanded not just a deep-seated passion but also unwavering patience.

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Thus, my journey to Singapore was twofold: firstly, to immerse myself in the industry and ascertain if it truly suits me for the long haul, and secondly, to build my savings.

With these guiding principles in mind, she embarked on her professional journey at a nascent Architecture firm in Singapore, stepping into the role of an Architectural Assistant within a close-knit team of approximately 10 individuals.

Facing the tide

JC’s professional journey in Singapore kicked off in July last year, which began with a sense of openness and anticipation.

Like many newcomers to the workforce, she found herself navigating through new tasks, far beyond the scope of her academic experiences.

Given the modest size of the company, the workload for each person was substantial and expectations were high.

As a result, there was often not enough patience for detailed, hands-on guidance, creating a pressure to quickly grasp everything on my own,” JC reflected.

Entering the workforce with just her degree, JC faced the challenge of not having a decent learning environment head-on.

However, the intensity of her situation escalated after her first probation period ended when her performance was deemed below expectations, leading to an extension of her probation.

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Jc working in singapore
Image provided to WeirdKaya
“The boss frankly told me that I wasn’t up to her standard and expectations.”

This feeling of being thrust too quickly into responsibilities without adequate preparation loomed over her, significantly increasing her stress levels.

This not only affected her emotionally, acne outbreaks and anxiety before work but also led to moments of breaking down in tears upon returning home at night.

In later stages of my working life, I found solace in making video calls to my dad and praying at a Guanyin temple near the company before heading to work each day,” she shared.

Free at last

Following a second extension of her probation, compounded by the uncertainty and a delay in work caused by a mistake, JC and her employer finally mutually agreed to terminate her employment.

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At that moment, I didn’t feel anger or resentment but rather a sense of relief.

While the journey and its culmination were not entirely pleasant, JC expressed gratitude towards her Singaporean employer for the opportunity provided.

Jc singapore art gallery
Image provided to WeirdKaya

“My employer mentioned during the first extension of my trial period that not everyone gets an extension. Some were asked to leave if deemed unfit from the beginning. But I was given nine months to try, reflect on what I truly want, and save some money,” she reflected.

Amid her considerations about whether to leave, JC sought insights from friends still working locally, only to discover that her experience was not unique in the local job market.

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“In such a stringent environment, you’re faced with two choices: to toughen up in kind or to forgive yourself and seek a new path. There’s no right or wrong, just what’s worth it or not.”

Warmth amidst hardships

Despite the major bumps she faced at her workplace, JC considers herself to be rather lucky, citing the fact that she was blessed to have met a good landlord.

“I rented an HDB flat in a relatively remote area, where it was a three-room apartment owned by an elderly couple who were exceptionally kind.

I was her first tenant after their son moved out after getting married. The landlady treated me like daughter and would cook dinner for me daily and showed genuine concern for my wellbeing.

“Once, when I had to work overtime until 3 am on my birthday, the landlady actually remembered the date following a casual mention and called me multiple times to inquire when I’d be home.

“When I arrived home, I found her waiting in the living room, saying she couldn’t sleep because she was worried about a young woman like me being out so late. She even made oatmeal for us to share,” she reminisced.

In contrast, many of JC’s friends had picky and demanding landlords, who sometimes didn’t allow them to lock their doors.

Jc in singapore marina bay sands
Image provided to WeirdKaya

Additionally, the cost of living, safety, and convenience were some of the reasons JC found Singapore suitable for living.

“I would take the public transport to explore around every weekend because it is very convenient. Catching the last bus home was never a concern due to the brightly lit streets and the presence of security guards patrolling even the nightlife areas.

Jc singapore night life
Image provided to WeirdKaya

“The cost of living is also very affordable, where a meal of rice with one meat and one vegetable dish costs only S$2.80 (RM9.80), making it easy to spend just S$10 (RM35) dollars a day on three meals.”

Return and reflection

After spending just nine months in Singapore, JC returned to Malaysia for good. While most would view this move as a retreat, for her, she sees it as a strategic step forward as she looks to approach her career with renewed clarity and purpose.

For me, the decision to leave Singapore stemmed primarily from a realization that my personality and current phase in life did not align with the demands of the industry, nor did it match my personal ambitions and career goals.

“While Singapore’s rigorous professional environment offers vast opportunities for growth and advancement, it may present daunting challenges for newcomers,” she said.

Singapore changi airport jewel by jc
Image provided to WeirdKaya

In JC’s opinion, Singapore is an attractive destination for those aiming to advance their careers and financial status thanks to its conducive overall living conditions and the convenience it offers.

However, she added that the workplace culture and expectations regarding salary might not be ideally suited for those just beginning their careers in the industry.

“As such, fresh graduates eager to explore opportunities in Singapore should be mentally prepared to navigate these challenges,” she cautioned.

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