Recently, a blogger wrote a post to declare that Poly kids (including his) have no future in Singapore and that their private university certificate is not going to get them anywhere. Thus, they are better off skipping that useless private university education, get into the workforce early to start earning some income to create their passive investment portfolio. After which, they should perhaps migrate to somewhere cheap and live their lowly lives there. Singapore has no place for them.
Since I am a graduate from poly, I thought I should write a post to console his poor kid and many others soon became poly students, uni rejects, and parents whose life is NOT over in Singapore.
I graduated from one of the top JCs in Singapore. Thus, not making the mark into a local university was quite an unpleasant experience. I’m glad my parents didn’t have the internet or social networks to rant on then :-p. The only wise choice was to go poly and later did I realize this was the best thing that ever happened to me.
#1 Find your passion
The beauty about going poly is that you get to pick courses you truly enjoy. According to a study by talent firm Awn Hewitt, Singapore employees are the least engaged in Asia. Why is that so, maybe this has to do with our education system. Everyone is just studying to fulfill a certain score which hopefully gets them into a seat at the local university. Thus, when our graduates get into the workforce, we are just working for a salary and hoping to eventually reach the top of the ladder. It may not be what we truly love or enjoy, thus at least engagement.
I noticed that whenever I had gatherings with my JC mates, I would be the only one excitedly talking about the work that I am doing and dreams. They seemed pretty miserable and unmotivated with their work.
#2 The world is your stage
After poly, going to a university is still a wise choice. You can either opt to enter the local university (2 years, I think) or overseas university (1-1.5 years). Our poly has affiliates with many foreign universities (typically UK and Australia) where you get exemptions to complete your study, For example, it only takes me approx 1- 1.5 years to finish my studies. Your certificate is the same as any normal graduate from that foreign university and these universities can be pretty well-known and respected within their country or even worldwide. In fact, I remember during one of my early interviews with an MNC, the hirer actually commented that I came from a good university and he was from the other side of the continent.
The experience of staying and studying overseas will change and transform you. Your world becomes bigger and your ambitions are not just limited to Singapore. That was the difference I saw between me and my JC mates. I was constantly trying to get myself posted all over the world. Their world is always Singapore, Singapore and Singapore. I think this may have changed recently as our local university graduates now have exchange programs.
#3 Your career has nothing to do with that paper after the 2nd move.
The only time people looked at where you graduated from was during your first interview. After that, nobody cares unless you’ve written a really lousy resume or you graduate from Harvard or Stanford or you’re trying to get into the government or research units.
The Singapore government has a system that really discriminates poly graduates. I was working in a government agency for 6 months to earn my university school fees. They have different ladders for different class of graduates. If you are a first class honors or above, you have a special path where you get a mentor to groom you up the ladder. If you are anything below and graduate degree, you are just a worker. If you are a poly graduate, you will never reach the level of a university graduate regardless of how hard you try. It’s a completely different promotion ladder altogether. I am not sure whether this has changed. So poly graduates, don’t waste your time there.
#4 The future is for the creators
One of the beauty about studying in poly is that it’s very hands-on and practical. They have projects that really prepare you for the workforce and challenge your creativity. With the upcoming 4th industrial revolution, I believe that the creators and innovators are the winners in the future workforce.
BTW, do you know that the Carousell Founder Quek Siu Rui and Creative Founder Sim Wong Hoo graduated from poly?
#5 I am a woman
If it consoles you further, I am a woman. According to statistics, I am suppose to earn 18% less than man. If you scroll through my timeline, you will see that my first pay check was only $2,200. My poly education didn’t stop any local or MNCs from hiring me. In fact, I even managed to secure an overseas expat contract.
My income so far has been decent (I don’t think I earn much less than my JC mates) and I think my journey so far has been very fruitful and fulfilling. If I were to turn back the clock, I would still choose poly + foreign university over local university.
One more thing, please don’t skip university to earn income to build a passive investment portfolio and always listen to Crazy Rich Warren Buffet, “You should never borrow to invest in the stock market.”
I hope this post gives the soon-to-be poly students, uni rejects and parents some perspectives. Your only limit is YOU.