Private uni students look to internships for head start

Interior view of the Kaplan Singapore's city campus at Wilkie Edge.
Interior view of the Kaplan Singapore's city campus at Wilkie Edge. PHOTO: KAPLAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTE

The slowing economy has prompted some private school students to seek ways to get a head start in their careers.

Final-year undergraduate Mogan Raj, for instance, spends only one day in school every week - the rest of his weekdays are spent at a public relations agency.

The 23-year-old is working as an intern there until August, just one month shy of his graduation from private school Kaplan Singapore.

He has been interning at various companies for about a year, in order to gain work experience that he believes willhelp him get his foot in the door.

"I started earlier than my peers so I can have insight into the industry. I'm also hoping that one of my internship companies will be willing to offer me a full-time role," he said.

Mr Adrian Tan, co-founder of Career Hero, a resume optimisation platform, agrees that internships are getting more popular.

He said: "Private university students recognise that they might not be able to compete with those from public universities at the graduate level, so they are looking to gain an advantage (through internships)."

Internships have helped accountancy students from Singapore Institute of Technology secure jobs. The university reported that 69 of 82 graduates received job offers upon graduation.

Most graduates of many private schools have been able to get employment over the years.

SIM Global Education found that 70 per cent of its graduates from the class of 2015 were able to secure full-time employment. This is a slight dip from 73 per cent for the class of 2014.

At Curtin University, 74 per cent of students found jobs within eight months of graduation, while 78 per cent of Kaplan Singapore's entire cohort, including part-time students, found full-time jobs.

These students graduated between June 2015 and May last year for both schools.

Even though most private school students are able to find jobs, some are also willing to accept a lower pay and clock in experience in a slowing economy.

For instance, Miss Lee Jie, 23, a business management graduate from SIM Global Education, took up a commission-based job as a financial consultant at Prudential instead of getting a regular pay cheque.

"If you are willing to compromise in terms of your salary, you can find a job," she said.

Abigail Ng and Raynold Toh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 26, 2017, with the headline 'Private uni students look to internships for head start'. Print Edition | Subscribe