NTU Career Tracks 2024

Recent Graduate Story: Matthew Tong

Tell us about your role and main responsibilities.

I am currently a Process Engineer at Singapore Refining Company (SRC). My day-to-day responsibilities include ensuring the smooth and efficient operation of my assigned process unit. Besides that, I may be called upon to perform scoping and feasibility studies on plant improvement projects to improve the performance of my unit. I also assist my colleagues in other departments in turnaround planning and coordination. Turnarounds are planned plant shutdowns during which maintenance and plant improvements are implemented. Turnarounds involve extensive coordination with colleagues from various departments to ensure the safe and timely completion of all planned tasks within budget.

Knowing that my job contributes to the production of a wide range of products such as fuels, plastics and additives which enhance the standard of living of many consumers gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

How long did you take to secure a job after graduation?

I began my job search approximately seven months before graduation. During Semester 1 in my final year, I noticed fulltime job opportunities appearing in my school email inbox and decided not to let these opportunities go to waste. I successfully secured a job offer four months before graduation.

What were some challenges you faced when looking for a job and how did you overcome them?

During my internship, I realised that my job scope was closely related to plant maintenance planning and project management which, while interesting, was not exactly what I wanted. I had a stronger interest in Process Engineering-related internships but I faced numerous rejections during the application period.

Therefore, I took the initiative to ask my internship supervisor if I could shadow one of the Plant Managers from the Operations Department whenever there was a plant start-up or shutdown. I was glad that he agreed! I learnt a lot from those shadowing sessions, particularly in the methodology of plant troubleshooting, which is fundamental to the work of a Process Engineer. With these experiences, I was able to answer process troubleshooting questions during my interview with SRC. I am grateful that I had a successful transition to my desired role even though I did not have a direct internship experience in that field. 

What are some strategies that you used to land yourself this position?

I attended resume writing workshops organised by my school career coach and diligently used VMock to identify mistakes and improved my resume. I also made use of online resources to ensure that my resume contained the most effective action verbs.

After multiple rejections, I began to feel hopeless and desperate as I could not tell what went wrong with the interviews that I attended. Nevertheless, I persevered and continued to attend resume critique sessions conducted by CAO. CAO also introduced me to their career consultant who provided me with extensive industrial knowledge of the Oil & Gas sector.

Before my first meeting with the career consultant, I was uncertain about how useful the session would be but I figured there was no harm trying! During the consultation, we had a candid discussion about my doubts as well as my career aspirations. The career consultant helped steer me back to where my passion lies as the desperation and despair I experienced had blurred the boundaries of my career interests.

Following another job offer dilemma, a second meeting with the career consultant led me to my current role, and I am extremely grateful for that.

I was also told to practice interview questions and answers by talking to a mirror, which I did religiously before every interview. It feels weird but it gets better with practice!

Share your tips and advice with fellow students who will be looking for jobs or internships soon.


Start thinking about your career interests early! Internships are one of the best ways to affirm what you may or may not like.


Make use of all resources available to you, such as CareerAxis, VMock, GraduatesFirst and Linkedin.


Be prepared for many rejections. Do your best in everything but manage your expectations (to reduce the heartbreak).


Apply to as many roles that you are interested in as possible as job-hunting is a numbers game.