Tips on making mid-career switch

Some 350 people turned up for a talk by ST senior manpower correspondent Toh Yong Chuan on preparing for the challenges when making a mid-career switch. Over 2,300 people also tuned in to the session via a live stream.
Some 350 people turned up for a talk by ST senior manpower correspondent Toh Yong Chuan on preparing for the challenges when making a mid-career switch. Over 2,300 people also tuned in to the session via a live stream.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Journalist shares personal experience as part of series of free talks by ST and NLB

Six years ago, The Straits Times (ST) senior manpower correspondent Toh Yong Chuan left his 18-year career in the civil service to become a journalist.

It was challenging, but he made it through with his family's support.

"Without family support, the chances of a successful career switch are diminished," he said.

Yesterday, he shared his personal experience with some 350 people at a talk on preparing for the challenges when making a mid-career switch.

Held at the Central Public Library in Victoria Street, the talk is the second of a new series of 12 askST@NLB sessions where ST journalists give free monthly talks on topics close to the heart of readers, as well as field questions from them.

Mr Kan Hwa Heng, 49, said the session was very beneficial.

"It is not easy to make the switch, it requires commitment and hard work," the IT project manager said.

Megan Ang, 17, from Temasek Junior College, said the questions from the audience helped her gain "first-hand information" about the current job situation in Singapore. She was attending the session with her project partner Sin Chin Yee, 17, and wanted to gain insights for a project they are doing on the rate of retrenchment of professionals, managers, executives and technicians here.

Some of the questions were on the dilemma between pursuing one's passion and practical considerations, as well as the problem of a lack of experience in taking on a new job, as employers often require experience from prospective hires.

In his answer, Mr Toh said that one "cannot live life just on passion", and that those who thrive are often those who "learn to love" what they are doing.

"Indirect experience" can be helpful, he added, even if there is a lack of direct experience. "Experience of life is something that cannot be totally dismissed," he said.

Over 2,300 people also tuned in to the session via a live stream.

askST@NLB sessions are a joint effort between The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB). Each session will run from 7pm to 8.30pm. Registration starts at 6pm and the 15- to 30-minute talks will be followed by a question-and-answer segment.

Last month's session was conducted by ST executive editor Sumiko Tan, who shared tips on column writing.

Next month, ST assistant sports editor Rohit Brijnath will be sharing on the topic "Is hard work a talent in sports?" on Sept 29, which is also a Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'Tips on making mid-career switch'. Print Edition | Subscribe