From finding the right job to dealing with imposter syndrome: New career navigator series launched for young NUS alumni

Today’s graduates are entering an increasingly complex work environment, where the idea of the traditional career trajectory has largely given way to one that is less predictable, non-linear, and will require continuous upskilling. Add to this the pace of technological change and industry disruption, and the contemporary workplace can appear both daunting and confusing.

Against this background, the NUS Office of Alumni Relations launched NUS Be A-HEAD, a new seminar series designed to help graduating students and young alumni make a smooth transition from university campus to the professional world.  

“One of the greatest benefits of a university education is the alumni network,” said NUS Chief Alumni Officer Ms Ovidia Lim-Rajaram. “With several NUS alumni speakers lined up to share their experiences with their peers, NUS Be A-HEAD is a great example of how our alumni community supports and helps each other succeed.”

Scheduled for an initial three-month run from August to October 2023, the series will delve into various topics related to early-to-mid career growth, addressing some of the largest concerns confronting new graduates today: from finding the right job fit, to grappling with imposter syndrome, navigating difficult professional relationships, and learning how to thrive at work.  

The first seminar in the series was held on 23 August at WeWork in Collyer Quay, bringing together close to 50 NUS alumni and graduating students in an event themed around the question of “How Do I Know if I’m on the Right Career Path?”

Featuring Mr Ian Lau (Arts and Social Sciences '12), a Director at Brunswick Group, and Ms May Wong (Arts and Social Sciences '90), Regional Lead, Talent Acquisition, Barclays Bank PLC, the session highlighted learning points from the speakers’ own careers while providing tips to the audience on interviewing, networking, and learning how to become comfortable marketing themselves.

With both speakers having pivoted to a field different from the one they started in, much of the conversation centred around making the individual determination of whether a job is right for yourself and knowing how and when to move on.

For Mr Lau, this has meant a segue from corporate banking to consulting by way of investor relations, as each experience strategically grew his resume with skills that are relevant and applicable to multiple jobs. “I knew what my career at the bank would look like, the seniority that I would have in five years, and the skills I would attain. [By joining an SME], I was hoping that maybe I would be able to climb the ladder a little faster, get a bit more hands-on training, and more mentorship. And that’s exactly what happened.” What was critical to his development, Mr Lau shared, was remaining “available and present to new opportunities”.

Likewise, having made the transition from journalism to human resources, Ms Wong emphasised the importance of identifying transferrable skills, as well as evaluating one’s interests, talents, as well as lifestyle preferences against any potential position. She also noted the difference between having a job and a career, asking the audience to question whether they have “five years’ experience or five times one”. If they are at a stage where they are no longer able to add anything new to their performance appraisals or their CVs year after year, professional growth may require a new environment or position.  

The audience was appreciative of the numerous insights shared by the speakers.  

“The session inspired me to think deeper about my existing career, and how I can find my own strength and area of growth. It was also very helpful to hear about strategies and tips to land a new job, especially when pivoting into a different career path,” shared Rebecca Koh (Business '10).

“I think the biggest takeaway is that there is no rubric or matrix for a perfect career path. As your life stage changes, some of your goals and ideals may also change, which is why the so-called ‘right career’ path is always in fluidity,” added Yang Sheng (Arts and Social Sciences '18).

The second NUS Be A-Head event will be held in September.  For more information, please refer to the event website: https://www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet/events/results/nus-be-a-head-survive-or-thrive-at-work


By NUS Office of Alumni Relations