Tell us about your role and main responsibilities.
I am currently HR Manager (Policy & Planning) at Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX). My main responsibilities include formulating policies related to total rewards, recruitment, appointments and exits, as well as reviewing performance management frameworks. I am also responsible for HTX’s workforce transformation through strategic planning.
How long did you take to secure a job after graduation?
I started searching for a job from August 2022 and consulted my career coach in September 2022. Overall, it took me around nine months to receive and accept a job offer in April 2023.
What were some challenges you faced when looking for a job and how did you overcome them?
Not knowing what I wanted
Even as a final year student, I was uncertain about my career path. This prompted me to reach out to my school career coach. My career coach introduced me to evidence-based psychological assessments that helped me identify my strengths and determine what I wanted in my future career, such as work-life balance. Through this process, we narrowed down my options to a few roles that aligned with both my strengths and my future career aspirations. The process also led me to find out about the other roles that I could pursue beyond the typical ‘associate psychologist’ role that most psychology students are familiar with.
Facing numerous rejections from companies
The more rejections I received, the more self-doubt I had regarding my technical and soft skills. There were moments where my self-confidence wavered, and I did not feel mentally strong enough to continue with my job search. However, I knew that I could not stop if I wanted my job search to succeed. As cliché as it may be, what kept me going was really having social and emotional support from my family and friends. I also took time to reflect on past interviews and analysed areas where I could better present myself, such as my choice of words, and improve for upcoming interviews.
Being hospitalised and diagnosed with endometriosis
On the day of my first interview with HTX, I experienced abdominal pain. Despite the discomfort, I pushed through and delivered my best during the interview. By afternoon, the pain intensified and I had to be rushed to the A&E department. From there, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and I had to undergo laparoscopy. While in the hospital for recovery, I received news that I had been shortlisted for a second interview with HTX. I also received interview invitations from three other companies.
While I am grateful that I got through my first interview with HTX, it was a challenging month for me on many fronts – I had to come to terms with my newly diagnosed medical condition, allow my body to recover physically after surgery, work on completing my final year project, and prepare for upcoming interviews all at once. What kept me going was my resilience in tackling these tasks one at a time.
What are some strategies that you used to land yourself this position?
My career coach and I worked together to improve my resume and tailored it for the roles I was interested in. It was only after sending out my improved resume that I began receiving interview invitations.
The insights and interview tips shared by my career coach during our virtual sessions, along with the virtual notice board he created, helped me to better prepare myself for my interviews. Additionally, I dedicated time each day to brainstorm and rehearse what I wanted to convey to the interviewers, such as how I could add value to their company.
Share your tips and advice with fellow students who will be looking for jobs or internships soon.
As life often does not go according to plan, it is always wise to plan ahead and allocate buffer time for yourself during your job and internship search. At the same time, take care not to neglect your physical and mental health in your pursuit of success. Remember that rejections are not a reflection of your self-worth. Instead, they are a sign that you are one step closer to your destination as long as you are willing to learn from the experience.