Upside of unemployment.


Tagline of the year 2013: I am a fresh graduate of cohort 2013/2014 and yes, I am still unemployed.

Have you heard? National University of Singapore has outdone herself once again; she is placed 26th in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University ranking and is now second best in Asia, right behind Tokyo University. I come from NUS and looking at statistics, I am the crème de la crème in Asia. We are the best out of the best and it should be a piece of cake when we are out searching for jobs, right? Employers should be begging us to work for them, right? We should be in MNCs and continue our innate ability to impress our peers by working in top names like JP Morgan, Google, Toyota, Allianz and the likes.


(Disclaimer: This post is not about my grumbles of not getting a job)

In all honesty, I have no idea who gives two fucks (pardon the crudeness) about our ranking in NUS. A lot of my university mates certainly don’t and we often wonder if students in top schools abroad, i.e Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, etc feel the same as well. We would trade the hours of studying into the wee hours, constantly pouring and printing weekly readings, having to incessantly speak out in tutorials to get that elusive 10%, being cramped together with 400 other students in a lecture theatre with a less results-oriented, restrictive and heavily censored syllabus. We are after all, in university to pursue ideas that would eventually reshape the world around us. Well, maybe that’s too much sugar-coating. Most of us are in university because it is expected of us – from society and from our parents.

How is it that NUS gets ranked so high up in the university ranking? What is at work here? Image

There. This is the myth-buster taken from the Times Higher Education itself. And the reason why NUS is ranked so high is not because of us, the students but all thanks to our dedicated and committed Professors. Without them, we are literally a bunch of nobodies. And the student body shouldn’t be too concerned with rankings, anyways.


Because in the real world, employers actually don’t care if you are a National University of Singapore graduate. I am sorry if I have shocked you but it is indeed a marketing tool and a blatant lie uttered by universities when they tell you where you study increases your chance of employment. It is a common misconception as well. I have not seen any employer balk at that fact; what they were searching for were more to people skills; if you could talk and present yourself professionally and if you have EQ alongside with tenacity, perseverance, responsibility and basically adjectives that companies feel are worthy of buying. You are the product now, and you are selling yourself to potential buyers. They would like to see your worth.

So, why am I still unemployed?

In all honesty, I do wonder a lot about that but when it boils down to it, I have not met a company which I want to “sell myself to”. It’s not the inadequate paycheck; I am least concern about that. It is my burning utopian ideal of pursuing something I am passionate about and few companies have managed to spark that fire in me and those that did, were unfortunately not hiring at the moment or some last minute thing would crop up to make the deal a no-deal. My passion lies in writing and anything else that falls under the creative/media industry. I have ascertained that. This is no longer a whim or a child-like dream. I spoke with a reputable MD recently and he threw out some questions that made me doubt myself – if I fancied writing because this is my form of expression and is pursuing journalism as a career my way of fulfilling that ideal?

I went home and thought hard about it. I wondered if my editor were to tell me to take out all the abstract expressions I often put in my articles, would I still do it? If I am not allowed to voice my opinion – like now- and have to be absolutely objective about an issue, if I have to work for 30 hours straight just to get a good led, if I get less credit than I deserved when it comes to my work – would I still do it all? The answer is yes. I would do anything and everything for writing. My love affair with it has not dwindled into yesterday’s dream. I can be tenacious and aggressive and I would put myself out of my comfort zone just to get that piece of 800 words long article on my editor’s table. These are not whims. They will one day solidify into a concrete mold. I am still improving now. I have not learnt the knack of selling myself or impressing my interviewers in interviews. I have always been on the quiet side (until you really know me) and I take my desire to write and what I have achieved from that for granted – I expect the person sitting across of me to know that I want it badly. These are my own blunders and I am trying to overcome them.

They say that we are allowed to make mistakes when we are in our 20s. I am making them now and increasingly, I am learning new things about myself I didn’t know before. So yes, I am still unemployed. Don’t stigmatized this word for me, my dear concerned friends. I am not yet lost.

(Pictures taken from and

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