What’s next? Tips to land that dream job

16 August 2021

with Norvin Teo, Head (Education and Career Guidance Office)

Saying that our world has changed in the past 2 years is a glaring understatement. The advent of new technologies, globalisation and the rise of various leading nations have always been catalyses for transformations – but the COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially ramped up developments, sparking revolutions in working environments, industry demands and employment outlook.

Domestically, the National Wages Council made moves to revise guidelines on wage and employment issuesi; while a recent Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) study even highlighted Singaporean’s hybrid work preferencesii. These examples are evident of the depth and breath of changes happening around us, that demand for graduands to be ever more cognisant of how to position themselves for employment.

So, what is the secret sauce that modern jobseekers require? We spoke to Norvin Teo, Head of the Education and Career Guidance Office at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), for tips on how to land that (dream) job.


  1. Tell us more about your role as Head of NAFA’s Education and Career Guidance Office (ECG).

    ECG’s main objective is to promote and generate career awareness and readiness, to better prepare our students to meet the demands of our workforce upon graduation. As Head of ECG, I lead my team in overseeing career preparatory efforts for NAFA’s full-time students and recent graduates. The key functions of ECG include delivering career-related activities such as soft skills training workshops and talks or forums on employment landscape awareness.

    At NAFA, ECG is also the main organiser for events such as NAFA Career Week and the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. These events aim to prepare the graduating cohort in workforce transitions and to promote an entrepreneurship spirit at NAFA. ECG also facilitates the internship component under the Industry-based Learning (IBL) umbrella, working closely with the academic divisions in delivering the semester-long internship. ECG acts as a gatekeeper to validate potential industry partners and to encourage them to provide relevant internship opportunities for our students.

  2. In the face of COVID-19, how has the employment landscape changed for our arts aspirants?

    The current COVID-19 situation has pushed traditional job functions towards the digital arena and hybrid working arrangements. While many jobs may disappear forever from various industries, new ones with a different set of requirements will emerge. Students need to understand that the change in the employment dynamic is inevitable, and more so accelerated. Whether or not their preferences lean towards the arts and creative industries, all professionals must be readily updated with new and relevant skill sets to stay competitive throughout their careers.

      “Whether or not their preferences lean towards the arts and creative industries, all professionals must be readily updated with new and relevant skill sets to stay competitive throughout their careers.”

    [Pre-COVID-19] A highly intense and fast paced portfolio review session by industry experts. Helping students to ramp-up their portfolios for their job hunt efforts.
       

  3. What are some tips you can share with graduates on landing their dream job? Is there even such a thing as a dream job now?

    We wish to instil the mindset of having our students view their studies at NAFA as part of the journey towards their dream jobs. While securing a dream job may often sound too good to be true, but not entirely impossible. The key word here is ‘expectations’ – for example, what is your definition of a dream job and are you ready for it yet? Here are some tips from me:

    1. Close the skill gap: Understand what your ‘dream job’ entails and what it requires from you. Are there essential learning or skill gaps that you are missing? Never be complacent, constantly update your skills and close any gaps needed to enhance competency and compatibility for your job role.
    2. Attitude, Attitude and Attitude: It is not how skilful you are, but rather about having the right attitude and mindset that lands you the job. One can teach you new skills but cannot change your personality. Do not be overly picky and choosy which might land you sitting at home jobless for a long time. In other words, exercise flexibility! Leverage available jobs and develop a resume to springboard to your way to a dream job.
    3. Resilience and Perseverance: Success does not arrive overnight. It takes years of hard work and dedication to see results. Learn to view challenges as opportunities for growth. Stay committed to solving problems and welcome new challenges ahead. Shouldering more effective responsibilities will help you develop your career.

  4. What are some qualities graduates need to have/possess to be successful in the modern arts landscape?

    Keeping it simple, these are some of the qualities a graduate should possess:

    1. Passion and a hunger for success.
    2. Being positive and open minded.
    3. Motivated to constantly explore and learn new skills.
    4. Being observant and cognisant of employment outlook and environments.
    5. Having strong interpersonal and networking skills.
    6. Being resilient to setbacks and rejections.

    “In other words, exercise flexibility! Leverage available jobs and develop a resume to springboard to your way to a dream job.”


    [Pre-COVID-19] Promoting an entrepreneurship spirit at NAFA. Students from various disciplines synergise to brainstorm business value prepositions.

  5. Are there any specific examples of graduate success stories you’re able to share, that we can learn from?

    I have witnessed many past graduates who are currently very successful today doing what they love and trained for. They understand that success does not come easily and worked hard to make significant progress as students. In some cases, they did not possess the most talent, but made up for it through sheer determination and a laser-like focus.

    Find a couple of like-minded classmates who are equally hungry for success to accelerate learning as a group. You can synergise your qualities to grow faster. Compete healthily and agree to disagree. Participate in any relevant competitions you can find both locally and overseas to benchmark your standards. Competitions will expose you to the expectations and realities of the industries. While winning a competition might bring you recognition, you should not be demoralised if you lose. Do not be afraid to explore and experiment new ideas as students, this is a more forgiving time for making mistakes in your learning journey.

    If the economy is poor and job opportunities are limited, consider further education and upskilling to remain relevant – do not stay stagnant.



    Students and industry experts getting ready for their portfolio review sessions. Each student is paired with a reviewer whose professional background is relevant to their course of study.
      “I have witnessed many past graduates who are currently very successful today doing what they love and trained for. They understand that success does not come easily and worked hard to make significant progress as students. In some cases, they did not possess the most talent, but made up for it through sheer determination and a laser-like focus.

  6. Should NAFA students past and present need career guidance and support, how can they get in touch?

    Start your career planning early and seek our assistance if you need any help. Although we are not an agency that provides you with a job, we do have the capacity to help you move forward in helping you achieve your aspirations.

    For current NAFA students, you can reach out to my team and I via [email protected]. You can also find out more about ECG at NAFA’s StudentNet. We also support alumnus who have graduated within past 3 years – applicable information can be found at https://www.nafa.edu.sg/alumni/education-career-guidance. We are always looking to support our NAFA students and graduands and have resources such as our Career Services Portal, career consultation and coaching, among a host of useful resources.



Norvin Teo is Head of NAFA’s Education and Career Guidance Office.

ihttps://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jobs/national-wages-council-to-convene-on-apr-19-will-announce-guidelines-by-end-may
iihttps://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jobs/greater-confidence-in-job-market-over-course-of-pandemic-year-ips-study