“I know what I want, and I will continue to keep trying,” says Higher Nitec graduate Jessa Kwek when faced with setbacks. Here, she shares how she is taking on every opportunity – from industry attachments to courses and Work-Study Programmes – to power up her skills.
Jessa Kwek, 20, has had a tough year – and that is not even factoring in the COVID-19 pandemic.
After graduating from ITE College Central with a Higher Nitec in Maritime Business, she applied to three polytechnics, hoping to pursue a diploma in Maritime Business.
She was unable to get a spot in any of the polytechnics and another application for a Work-Study programme — an initiative to help students gain on-the-job training while studying — with a local company to work in the logistics field also fell through.
“I was devastated, I was really sad. I didn’t know what to do and just procrastinated. I stayed in my room and watched Netflix non-stop for many days after that.”
But she pulled herself together, and at one of her ITE lecturer’s recommendation, Jessa decided to take up a course under the SkillsFuture Series (Certificate of Competency). This programme offers short training courses to help graduates acquire additional industry-relevant skillsets to boost their employability.
These courses were offered by ITE, and after considering her options, Jessa decided to take a free, one-day course, titled Entrepreneurship 101 (Target Market with Data Analytics), thinking it would help her to improve her knowledge about becoming a businesswoman.
It did exactly that, and also re-ignited her passion for the world of commerce, as she learnt about data analytics and how to use it to understand customer behaviour and market products to different customers.
“I’ve always had a passion for business, since primary school,” said Jessa, who has thoughts of opening up a café in the future. “I like the sense of independence, of working with customers and training staff.”
She added: “The course taught me about being an entrepreneur, and topics beyond the fundamentals of what I learnt in school. It was actually pretty cool.”
Experience in the real world
Keeping an open, gung-ho and eager-to-learn attitude towards things was also how she made the most of a four-month long ITE industry attachment at Pacific Carrier Limited, a maritime company, from Oct 2019 to Feb 2020.
Jessa also took the opportunity to tackle problems at work – it’s how she was able to continue growing in her skills and confidence.
These included skills such as website design and content creation, which she used to enhance the company’s website.
In the process, she researched the company’s competitors’ digital platforms and saw how the competitors would update their websites regularly, feature staff profiles, and had maps that visually represented their offices’ locations around the world.
Jessa took note of all these and recommended similar changes to Pacific Carrier’s website. She added fresh content – such as Pacific Carrier’s sustainability efforts, its company profile, and products and services – and learnt to do search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the reach of the website.
Jessa has now embarked on a Work-Study Diploma in Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and will begin working at a global logistics provider in April next year, for two and a half years. She said, “Yes, the earlier setbacks have been disappointing, but I am not going to let that affect me. I know what I want to do, and I just have to keep trying.
Thinking back, Jessa said her friends and family – especially her mother – also encouraged her not to give up.
Jessa said: “When I got rejected by all the polytechnics, my mother told me not to give up. She said that as long as I keep working hard, there will come a day when I will achieve what I want. I was very touched.”
She hopes to enrol in more courses, such as those offered by the SkillsFuture Series (CoC), to make herself even more attractive to employers, as the pandemic continues to take its toll on the economy.
“The entrepreneurship course has helped to refine my people management skills. This will be crucial to my new job in the logistics company as I will have to negotiate with customers and suppliers. I hope to continue learning and pick up other new skills,” said Jessa.
Jessa has one parting advice for her peers: “It does not matter how many obstacles you face but don't give up on looking for something that interests you. Just keep looking for more opportunities to expand your skills and job opportunities!”
The SkillsFuture Series (Certificate of Competency) is open to ITE graduates who are keen to upskill to stay current with emerging skillsets. To find out more about the full range of courses and eligibility, visit https://go.gov.sg/skillsfuture-coc
And for more tips, advice, opportunities and resources to get started on your career, visit GradGoWhere (https://go.gov.sg/gradgowhere), a specially created portal for young graduates.