Updated: Nov 25, 2022
"That feeling where you build up the excitement for months, reminding yourself of the light at the end of the tunnel. You consistently remind yourself that this is temporary and delayed gratification is what most successful people embrace the most."
And when you finally get to the end of the tunnel, you got what you wanted. All that hard work and patience just for this day. Now that you have it, you don’t know what to do with it.
Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what most of you students who just finished their national exams (O level & A level) are feeling right now. You have all the time in the world. You wanted to go crazy after the exams. You have it all planned. Go paktor with boiboi or gurlgurl, grind out a Platinum on Valorant or even just sleep all day. That exhilaration and elation last merely a couple of weeks and now you’re left wondering… NOW WHAT?!
*Cues NOW WHAT theme song*
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Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first
Firstly, congratulations on completing your national exam. For some of you, it’s just another national exam before proceeding to the next. While for others, this is your last hurdle before you enter University. Either way, the mere feat of completing the exam is worth celebrating because of the pressure you had to endure in the Singapore Education system.
The journey was arduous and tiring. This is your chance to rest and I strongly suggest you take it. Let’s be real, long breaks with little to no consequences are only available to students. You don’t get school holidays once you’re an adult. Sure, you are entitled to your 14 day leave and day offs, however, it usually come at a cost.
Somehow, my students always seem to have more luxury than I do.
But being the Singaporeans that we are…
Point blank, the stereotypical Singaporean, we are always to be ahead of the competition. Some see this as time to either catch up or sprint ahead of the competition academically. This time can indeed be used that way.
Holiday period is the only time where you have minimum to no pressure from school to perform. A tutor can then finally take his time to fine tune some of your weaknesses without having to push and hurry during the session. At the same time, you will be more focused and well-rested since you don’t have to wake up at 0600H, lugging your backpack and heavy legs to school pondering about your life decisions during a 1 hour bus trip. Slower teaching pace, minimum pressure and a focused and well-rested mind would usually result in the catch up you needed or the 3-steps ahead you wanted.
As such, I am proud to announce that this blog article is sponsored by VANTAGE TUTOR! VANTAGE TUTOR is offering school holiday math and chemistry tuition at prevailing rates despite teaching content ahead of school of a higher academic level. Just apply promo code of "LEAVEMEALONETOMYBREAKYOUPIECESOFSHITUNLESSYOUREALLYNEEDME" to enjoy the special offer! Terms and conditions apply.
I was never afraid to take a break as a student. Just ask people who grew up with me, they would be the first to tell you how lazy I am, how I spent long hours grinding on games and just laying motionless in bed. This holds true throughout my academic journey, even in University. Maybe that’s why people in University often discount me as inferior.
"I'm sorry what? You're slogging for someone else while making less dough than me?"
Most people need to realize that this protected break will never be granted to you again. One needs to realize that upon graduation, you are to work till 65 (recently upgraded to 68 if you read the news) before you can retire. Take this opportunity to truly enjoy the uninterrupted guilt-free rest.
Your most valuable asset right now…
However, many of you see this time as an opportunity to carve out a lead. Many are out to capitalize on this free time to get ahead of others in hopes that it will improve your future. You have my utmost admiration.
People around you would tell you this is the perfect opportunity to get "real world" experience through a part-time job or even an internship. I had my fair share of dabbling in ridiculous freelance jobs when I was fresh out of University. You will learn intangible skills that schools do not offer. You will learn to work with people from different walks of life instead of your protected restrictive microcosm in school.
However, you need to recognize, as an O / A level graduate...
You offer nothing of value, but your time.
"But I’m from ANNNE EEEEWWW ASS one leh!"
Q: Why should we hire you?
Ans: I'm from *insert reputable JC and Secondary School*
In University, people are always looking to buff up their CV so they can land that all elusive high paying job where they can subtly humble brag at the first Chinese New Year Reunion after graduation. Internship is the most common go-to for students.
Internship offers you a job effectively as an understudy. Ideally, you learn on the job by shadowing a mentor who have been in the company for a surmountable amount of time. You learn the ropes, observe the ins and outs of the company and how the cogs turn in a fully functioning company.
For the exclusive inside coaching, invaluable experience provided and the permission to mention their exclusive company on your CV that the said company offers you, you will take a significantly lower compensation (usually in the range of <$800) while performing a full time 9-5 job under contract of usually 3~6 months.
29th November 2021, r/SGExam
Very often companies offering internship are looking to have a contract intern for 6 months, especially so if they are genuine in offering an ideal internship. It takes a lot of effort to train an understudy. Most mentors who are genuinely looking for a pair of helping hands would polish you into the gem that you could be such that you can lighten their workload, ideally without their supervision. This process usually takes a few months. Hence, due to the length of contract, this option is usually only viable for A level graduates waiting for University admission or Undergraduates on their summer/winter breaks.
Internships are usually secured through an institute, i.e. your University and Polytechnics. This is usually the preferred route. Internships secured through institutions effectively gives you backing and some form of protection. Alternatively, you can source for internships through networks, recruitment agencies or simply raw random Google search which usually does not bear fruit.
However, internships are not necessarily a gift from heaven.
You can read up horror stories of internships on reddit and other forums written by tertiary students. The main concern with internship is, an intern is usually treated as raw cheap labour. This is even more prominent when you are young, naive and impressionable.
"Make me a cup of coffee every morning, no sugar."
Mentors may not necessarily show you the ropes of the company. But instead, have you perform coffee runs for him or other irrelevant tasks that does not necessarily enhance your experience of the "real world". Internships secured through institutes allows you to report any form of bullying and mismanagement.
Furthermore, internships offered by institutes have usually been screened by the management team of the school and/or have worked with them through many batches of interns, thereby minimizing the risk of misbehavior by companies towards interns. Even if disputes were to happen, trust that you have the institute to police the matter for you.
Small "gigs", less commitment
For the rest of us who are just out to make a bit of pocket money so that you can buy that branded wallet / bag to flex to the opposite gender, freelance and part-time job is usually the option for us.
Firstly, before you jump in any job, understand the fine difference between freelance workers versus part timers so that you understand your rights and expectations in terms of the structure for remuneration and level of commitment. Take this as an opportunity to learn the technicalities behind employment. (I only learned that the hard way after signing a 2 year contract with a tuition center).
Unlike internships, such "freelance gigs" can usually be found through your own network of friends, telegram chat groups or recruitment agencies. Also, you will have nothing to fall back on but yourself if things go wrong. (They usually don’t.)
Standard Chartered Marathon 2019
I spent most of my time hitting on... I mean advising female runners based off my own marathon experience despite being "merchandiser.
As mentioned previously, you have nothing to offer but your time. Hence, many a time, your tasks are labor intensive, tedious and compensated for by the hour. Even though the work is labour intensive and may not require the full utility of your intelligent and bright mind, you will still learn many things.
For those who are more adventurous and looking to step out of your comfort zone (money is a good motivator for discomfort), you can earn extra income on top of your hourly compensation through sales commissions. When I was a student, classmates of mine would always sign up for COMEX IT shows, promoting printers and other forms of gadgets when all they had was 1 day of brief training on surface level technicalities behind the technology. While other classmates of mine would buy wholesale ice cream before going door to door to re-sell it at a slightly higher price.
Or, you can cosplay as a walking penis for $8/hr and harass pretty zehzehs at CBD.
You would have noticed by now, the people who drive the flashiest of cars, stays in the biggest of flat and flexes the most on social media are high ticket salesman. The best and worst thing about sales is it requires a level of social skills. It requires persuasion. It requires the gift of the gab. A soft skill not necessarily taught to you in school. (Unless you’re from RGS, CH if you’re reading this, you will make a great saleswoman.)
You’re a young bright doe-eyed individual. This is your chance to dip your feet in sales with minimum to no repercussion. If you make a mistake in sales, the worst thing that could happen is a hard rejection and missing out on a couple of dollars of commission. (Yes, you're getting ripped off here too). Your supervisor would be more forgiving. Truth be told, some of these young salesman and saleswoman just use their youth to take advantage of the compassion of elderly and seniors. Even if you try to do re-sale ice cream and you sell none (you must be really terrible of a salesman), your parents will still buy them all from you.
Or you can just eat them all.
If you develop and master the art of persuasion, however, you might have opened more doors than you would have expected. Interviews would be a breeze. Your future employment options are no longer bounded to a desk or your paper qualifications. You might even develop a side hustle that could generate income for you while you get through school. You have nothing to lose.
Maybe just some face-value... You’ll get over it.
It’s never about the money
I’ve dabbled in many gigs upon graduating, fresh out of University. These gigs include game and event host for SEA (Shopee pee pee pee pee x23578), merchandiser for Standard Chartered Marathon and even a tour leader for a group of international students from Indonesia. I count myself lucky to be able to land myself such "gigs" before I finally settled on being a tutor. These gigs really did expanded my horizon and granted me many behind-the-scenes stories. You will befriend people and form lasting relationships and memorable stories that will be in the back of your mind for years to come. For me, it was never about the money.
Tour leader for Regents School Bali twinning program with Yu Neng Primary School in 2018.
And it really shouldn't be.
It should be about learning and having the time of your life simultaneously.
If none of this suits you, pick up a hobby.
Or you can emulate me this holiday!
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