ST journalist Toh Yong Chuan shares experience of mid-career switch of jobs at askST@NLB session

Toh Yong Chuan speaking at the askST@NLB session. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Six years ago, Straits Times 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 support from his family.

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

On Friday (Aug 25) night, he shared his personal experience with some 350 people at a talk on preparing for the challenges in 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 insights for a project they are doing on the rate of retrenchment of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) here.

Some of the questions asked were on the dilemma between pursing 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.

Mr Toh answered that one "cannot live life just on passion", and that those who thrive are often those who "learn to love" what they are doing. He also said that "indirect experience" can be helpful, even if there is a lack of direct experience.

"Experience of life is something that cannot be totally dismissed," he said.

More than 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, where she 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.

"I hope I was able to share useful insights. Sessions like this help 'beat' reporters stay grounded and on top of issues," Mr Toh said.

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