Mindset matters more than a degree

Straits Times correspondent Joyce Lim with young survivors of the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Straits Times correspondent Joyce Lim with young survivors of the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Many diploma holders would probably not apply for a job that asked for university graduates.

But I did and that decision 16 years ago changed my life.

I cold-called The New Paper's photo editor to ask for a job interview. After several rebuffs, he finally agreed to see me.

I showed him my portfolio of pictures and assured him I was passionate about journalism, willing to learn and not afraid of hard work.

He gave me a chance, and I worked my way from taking photographs to writing short reports to covering some of the region's biggest stories for The Straits Times.

Last year, I went to Malaysia to cover the General Election, to Indonesia to cover the haze that blanketed Sumatra and to the Philippines to cover the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Joyce Sumatra Em

Back in Singapore, I specialise in the Courts and Crime beat.

Now that the Aspire report has shone the spotlight on the career prospects of polytechnic and ITE graduates, many are debating whether one can succeed in Singapore without a university degree.

A lot of the focus has been on how the Government and employers have to change and become more open to hiring and promoting non degree-holders.

But I think non-degree holders also need to change their mindset. At the very least, they should not set limits on what they can achieve without a degree.

I do not feel that being a polytechnic diploma-holder has disadvantaged me in any way.

Journalism is a doing field.

The job requires one to spend time in cultivating a good network of contacts, gain the trust of newsmakers and talk to them in an engaging way.

Like most jobs, it takes a lot of independence and drive for one to excel in the workplace, something that would be difficult to teach in a classroom.

I have witnessed many non-degree holders who possess the ability to look at things from different perspectives, succeed in the newsroom.

I believe in giving my utmost to every assignment, and taking on even the most mundane job with the aim of breaking boundaries.

joycel@sph.com.sg

Read The Straits Times Opinion section on Oct 30 for a full version of Joyce Lim's commentary, "Mindset matters for non-uni grads".

<a href="http://www.straitstimes.com/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://polldaddy.com/poll/8408964/">http://polldaddy.com/poll/8408964/">Do you think you can succeed in Singapore without a degree?</a>