Malaysian who graduated from NUS in May gets $1k a month as an intern

Ms Germaine Lim graduated from the National University of Singapore in May.
Ms Germaine Lim graduated from the National University of Singapore in May.PHOTO: ST FILE

Ms Germaine Lim, 24, stays alone in a rented bedroom in Bukit Batok and earns $1,000 a month as an intern in a construction firm.

All she earns goes towards her rent of $550, her meals and transport.

The Malaysian, who is a Tuition Grant Scheme (TGS) recipient, has been struggling to find a job since she graduated from the National University of Singapore in May.

The political science graduate sent out about 40 job applications but received only one offer - for an internship. This was in lieu of a full-time position, which would have entailed a monthly levy of $650 if she had been hired on an S Pass, she said.

"Though I didn't get the job, I'm thankful they offered me an internship as an alternative," Ms Lim said.

The three-month internship may have bought her some time, but she is growing more anxious by the day.

Her internship will end in two weeks, and there are no promising leads in her job search.

"There are times when I feel really demoralised about not being able to find a job because of the financial strain and the mental stress of not being able to serve my bond.

"It's frustrating when employers write me off the moment I mention I'm a Malaysian," said Ms Lim, the only child of a single mother.

Asked what can be done to help struggling TGS recipients like herself, Ms Lim said: "It would help greatly if the Government could exempt us from the EP (Employment Pass) minimum salary requirement, as well as the S Pass quota and levy. Perhaps, forgive some of the bond period while stringent restrictions against hiring foreigners are in place."

Ms Lim, who has been living in Singapore for five years, sees the silver lining amid her difficulties.


"At least I have my family with me here. My mum lives with one of my aunts, who is a Singaporean, and their flat is right across the road from where I'm staying.

"It's less lonely, and I always have someone to turn to when I hit a wall," she said.

Ms Lim continues to submit two to three job applications a day and is "hopeful that something will come up".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysian grad gets $1k a month as an intern'. Subscribe