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Old 03-28-2010, 12:37 PM   #1
highwind
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Default Life as a PSC Scholar

Personally, I feel that a lot of the threads here on PSC scholarships are more about how much you get to be paid, how fast you will rise up the ranks, how would you be able to get in AS and the list goes on.

Yet how many people are asking if life as a scholar will be fun-filled and exciting? Actually, if you're really thinking of a PSC scholarship, the no. 1 priority should be if life as a public servant really suits you and makes you happy instead of how much money you can make out it.

But that is not the point of this thread.

Is there any PSC scholars or anyone who know PSC scholars which can care to elaborate more about how is it like serving as a PSC scholar? Like the first jobs you take on, people you meet and the fun experiences you've had working as a civil servant.

I'm really interested in how the life of a PSC scholar is like. What do you do in the various ministries etc.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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speaks a lot when even potential civil servants are going to concern themselves with high pay than serving the public. Of course, at the end of the day, money is going to be what brings food to the table and everyone wants a higher pay.
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:46 AM   #3
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Default Life as a PSC Scholar

Hi all, I must apologise first if I am posting this in the wrong section or if such a topic has already been posted before. I tried searching for such a topic on the forum and there was only one such thread which didn't garner much response, so I decided to start a new one.

Just a disclaimer that I can get a little long winded, so before I elaborate on the 'background', I'd just like to get straight to the point: Does anyone know what life as a PSC scholar (preferably SGS, heh) is like? What I mean is information about the job scope and the actual day to day business a PSC scholar is engaged with. I know that the work differs for the various ministries, and that's fine, does anyone know any such information about any specific ministry?

And for the background: I noticed that plenty of threads here discuss strategies to approach the whole application process, and that's definitely helpful (wish everyone the best!). But there's a lack of information about what a scholar actually does, even for the links to government websites, which mainly contains information about qualifications and broad ideas about the field of work. I've noticed that in several of the tea sessions the scholars themselves were pretty vague in divulging such information and I couldn't seem to get a clear idea of what they do (pretty suspicious, honestly...). So I'd just like to find out more, mainly because I applied to try out for SAFOS as I wanted to join the navy. Due to my inadequacy I was offered the SGS instead and due to a freak accident (don't ask), I am now physically unable to join the SAF. So now I have an offer which I am not sure I want, since i'm pretty certain it is a big difference from what I originally aimed for and I have no idea what the career entails!

Also, due to the accident I am now desk bound in my NS career. While the work hasn't exactly been unsatisfactory, I now dread being an office worker and can't imagine how I would feel if the 6 years of bond were full of the office work I am currently facing. So, I would like to know from others what working in the civil service is really like.

That aside, (as much as it pains me to say this) my parents are the stereotypical 'kiasu' sort who went all kinds of crazy the moment I said I wanted to drop this offer for something else. Heck, they nearly disowned me when I told them I didn't want a scholarship and would fund my own studies at a local uni, mainly because they felt if I could get a scholarship I should grab the opportunity and go abroad. So I just wanted to find out more about life as an SGS scholar and if I should just wing it. Or if I should just run away from home... .__.
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:13 AM   #4
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I think your parents need to be more chill about this. You can't blame them, though, because they grew up in a world where a scholarship was a surefire ticket to success that was glorified above everything else on offer, but today this is not necessarily the case. You need to make a decision in today's context, where the allure of the private sector has somewhat caught up with that of public sector scholarships.

There's a good reason why the scholars couldn't tell you much, because like you said, your experience really depends on where you're posted to. Even scholars within the same ministry may have vastly different experiences due to luck, department, bosses, job scope, etc. In general, you'll be in a policymaking position that is vastly different from what any NS desk job is like, so you shouldn't use the latter as any sort of benchmark. You'll have the chance to analyze current issues facing Singapore and make policy recommendations, and as a scholar/MA you'll have great access to the senior brass. The most important metric is how well you impress your boss. You'll be working in relatively small teams (small relative to the size of the ministry), and you'll get to know your colleagues and bosses really well because you'll work together with them in many meetings and things etc to work on stuff. Often it'll also involve meeting and negotiating with stakeholders like other departments that do related policy work, and also reps from stat boards which will do the groundwork for your policy. It's definitely not a brainless job, though of course even the most exciting jobs will involve mindless admin stuff like chasing people for work and replying to emails, etc. If you're talking about general policy positions, the closest parallel I can think of in the private sector is management consulting or the strategy/planning divisons of corporations.

Of course, postings are very varied. Especially if you're posted to MFA etc.

I'm assuming you can't go overseas without a scholarship. In that case just think about what you want to do after graduation. My impression is that you need to really shine in most local courses to get a job that, IMO, beats the prestige and prospects of a scholar's career. There are some local courses, such as law/med and certain SMU courses that seem to offer careers similarly prestigious - SMU especially seems to be best, among the 3 unis, at getting its students into consulting/finance. It's not the end of the world if you go local.
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Old 03-05-2011, 03:44 PM   #5
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shubashuba,

You raise a very good and important question that, you're right, isn't asked often enough. As a result there are unhappy scholars who now regret their decision because, in their rush to win prestigious scholarships, they neglected to ask your question (or neglected to ask it at a deep enough level of detail).

Lock is right that the job is highly variable. Your question should not be "what does a scholar do?" but rather "what does a Senior Strategist in the Strategic Planning Office of the Prime Minister's Office do?" Ask what they do on a daily basis (the boring typical tasks, and then the cooler tasks they get to do once in a while). This example's taken from the Singapore government directory(http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/listing.asp?a..._id=0000003600), but you can explore the general site (http://app.sgdi.gov.sg) to look around. In general the entry-level jobs are near the bottom and sound like this: "Strategist", "Executive", "Analyst" etc.

There's definitely a good deal of boring staffwork even for scholars - arranging for meetings, writing notes and minutes (this may be less boring for some types of people), communicating with other Ministries and jumping through bureaucratic hoops, etc. Even in the private sector there is a lot of time spent on low-value activities (though probably different in nature from writing minutes etc). However, some argue that these "low-value activities" serve to build character (you work your way up from the bottom) and also give you a better idea of how the organization truly works, which will be helpful when you are in a leadership position in future.

On going overseas on scholarship: Being bonded for 6 years is not a light task. And some students who fail to think it through thoroughly beforehand often take the scholarship but later realize they like a particular private sector job more (after all, when you're 18 you don't really know what the jobs are like in the private sector - there're a lot of different jobs out there that are needed to make this modern world run!).

Also, in local unis you can go on exchange programs for 4 mths up to a year. But I think the exchange spots are quite competitive, so do your best at school.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:07 AM   #6
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Also, as entry-level scholars, you will support your department / Ministry as it goes about formulating policy. That requires you to be well-organized and well-informed about various issues. Bonus points if, in addition to being well-informed of the issues, you’ve also thought about them, done your own analysis and have your own opinion/recommendation.

That said, entry-level civil servant activities could include:
Coordinating and arranging meetings (can include detailed stuff, like making sure the projector’s set up and working, that there are enough chairs, etc).
Attending meetings and writing minutes of the meetings (a succinct record of who agreed to do what, what the positions of each party involved in the meeting, any agreed-upon decisions and next steps etc).
Doing research on a policy issue and writing papers
You may get a chance to present your research, hopefully to someone very senior. Make sure your presentation (and Powerpoint) is succinct, crisp and to-the-point, focusing on key insights and recommendations (if called for).
Keep track of which meetings are about which issues, and what are the key talking points for your boss to bring up at each meeting.
When going on overseas trips with your boss, you take care of everything: pay for meals, get taxi, book hotel, book flights and basically make sure everything goes smoothly
Doing anything else that needs doing (miscellaneous work)

Many of these activities may seem mundane and beneath someone with an elite degree, but this is what the civil service does. If I’m not wrong, many private sector jobs do similar things, just with a company-specific focus.

As you move up, naturally you take on more management and leadership roles, You’ll have to handle a team of civil servants from entry-level (i.e. fresh grads) to mid-level. You’ll have to motivate them, enable them to do good work, and ensure your department produces good work / good results. You’ll notice this sounds very different from the entry-level activities listed above. Indeed, assuming a leadership position is quite a drastic change! Your job is no longer to be awesome at your own work, but also to ensure other people are awesome at their work too.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shubashuba View Post
Hi all, I must apologise first if I am posting this in the wrong section or if such a topic has already been posted before. I tried searching for such a topic on the forum and there was only one such thread which didn't garner much response, so I decided to start a new one.

Just a disclaimer that I can get a little long winded, so before I elaborate on the 'background', I'd just like to get straight to the point: Does anyone know what life as a PSC scholar (preferably SGS, heh) is like? What I mean is information about the job scope and the actual day to day business a PSC scholar is engaged with. I know that the work differs for the various ministries, and that's fine, does anyone know any such information about any specific ministry?

And for the background: I noticed that plenty of threads here discuss strategies to approach the whole application process, and that's definitely helpful (wish everyone the best!). But there's a lack of information about what a scholar actually does, even for the links to government websites, which mainly contains information about qualifications and broad ideas about the field of work. I've noticed that in several of the tea sessions the scholars themselves were pretty vague in divulging such information and I couldn't seem to get a clear idea of what they do (pretty suspicious, honestly...). So I'd just like to find out more, mainly because I applied to try out for SAFOS as I wanted to join the navy. Due to my inadequacy I was offered the SGS instead and due to a freak accident (don't ask), I am now physically unable to join the SAF. So now I have an offer which I am not sure I want, since i'm pretty certain it is a big difference from what I originally aimed for and I have no idea what the career entails!

Also, due to the accident I am now desk bound in my NS career. While the work hasn't exactly been unsatisfactory, I now dread being an office worker and can't imagine how I would feel if the 6 years of bond were full of the office work I am currently facing. So, I would like to know from others what working in the civil service is really like.

That aside, (as much as it pains me to say this) my parents are the stereotypical 'kiasu' sort who went all kinds of crazy the moment I said I wanted to drop this offer for something else. Heck, they nearly disowned me when I told them I didn't want a scholarship and would fund my own studies at a local uni, mainly because they felt if I could get a scholarship I should grab the opportunity and go abroad. So I just wanted to find out more about life as an SGS scholar and if I should just wing it. Or if I should just run away from home... .__.
Hmm... are you SGS (open) or SGS tied aka 'ministry'? life as a SGS tied and a SGS (open) is different.. as a SGS(O) you'll have a chance of joining MAP and basically follow the progression of most other OMS scholars if you perform above expectations.

regardless it's definitely a desk-bound job, so if you hate it to the core, you might want to think again. However, there's a lot of variety between desk-bound jobs, and it really depends on your appointments, department, or ministry. For example, a director at ministry of home affairs will have a different life compared to another director at ministry of foreign affairs.
and don't worry if it's not what you originally wanted/aimed for. as much as we all like to convince scholarship boards or hr managers that we are wise, ambitious, and mature young guns with dedication and perseverance in abundance, we're not. if you take up the scholarship, note that the inside is often different from how it looks from the outside. if you don't take up the scholarship, don't worry too much either. you will have plenty of opportunities when you get out of uni, more so without a scholarship.
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