Landing a role thanks to his GIS minor

A nine-month traineeship that tapped on his knowledge of Geographical Information System (GIS) - it was right up Desmond Soh's alley. He needed no nudging to accept the job opportunity as a modelling engineer with DHI Water & Environment (S) Pte Ltd.

In the tumultuous 2020, the NUS Arts & Social Sciences alumnus graduated from Geography and minored in Geographical Information Systems, with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Merit).

At the beginning of his final semester, he had already kick-started his job search in the ongoing tepid job market. Nonetheless, his early attempts were unsuccessful. The NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates continually encouraged Desmond; offered him useful career advice, interview tips, and suggested he expand his search to explore the SGUnited Traineeship programme launched in 2020 to support jobseekers. His friends echoed the same and he decided to cast a wider net.

"Initially, I was only searching for public sector jobs, but gradually I felt the need to diversify my search to include the private sector and even in the fields that I did not think to consider in the first place. In the end, I was glad of my decision as I was offered the traineeship by a company in the private sector through the SGUnited Traineeship programme."

His training in GIS captured the attention of the employer and helped him greatly to secure the traineeship. "GIS is an advanced technical skill that I anticipated will apply to a wide range of industries. To hone my GIS skills, I took all the modules offered by the Geography Department. I even took an internship in Cambodia in June 2019 to the Marine Conversation Cambodia (MCC) for three months focusing on GIS-related assignments."

To further broaden his horizons, he proactively joined the three-month Student Exchange Programme at Loughborough University, the United Kingdom. This programme further introduced him to an intercultural environment and allowed him to pick up useful soft skills such as holistic analytical and problem-solving skills which set him apart in the job market.

Reflective of his own job search experience, Desmond reminds incoming students not to get disheartened by rejections that are common in the job search process. Instead, it is important to keep track of each application and learn from every interview session. All these experiences will help in securing a job in good time.

Currently, Desmond has started his traineeship with DHI and it has been a positive experience. "The company has provided many opportunities for me to learn and explore areas that I am interested in. My colleagues have been very helpful and patient with me. At present, GIS is my main task but I am also part of the Modelling Department which exposes me to various projects and new knowledge. The future holds many possibilities, I'm positive and keeping my options open."


According to the Joint Autonomous Universities Graduate Employment Survey 2020, close to 94% of NUS graduates secured jobs within six months of their final exams, an increase of three percentage points over the previous year. Read the press release here.