Why this millennial chose to work in a Singapore SME over an MNC

Who am I?

My name is Denecia and I have just graduated from National University of Singapore (NUS) with a degree in Life Sciences in June 2017. Currently, I am working at atomi, a Japanese lifestyle and furniture SME.

millennial Singapore SME
Denecia, a Life Sciences graduate, chose to work in the retail line instead.

Why venture into a different field of work?

With my degree in Life Sciences, many people expect me to work in an area related to Science after I graduate. However, I chose to deviate from the norm and work in an area distinctly different from what I studied in University.

I applied for jobs that allow me to be exposed to marketing, branding and business development as I was always keen to explore in these areas. Furthermore, having taken additional business modules during my university times further affirmed my interest in learning the growth of local SMEs and large MNCs.

Today, it is not uncommon for a fresh graduate to choose to do something totally unrelated to their field of study. In fact, even if what we have studied in school may be interesting, sometimes we simply don’t see ourselves being able to work in that specific area in the long run.

It can be due to the mundane nature of the job, or a routine-based job which does not empower you to constantly learn new things or allow you to excel as an individual.

During your process of job searching, it all boils down to what you really want to achieve out of a job. This was precisely the case for me when I was looking for a favourable first job after graduation.

Working takes up a huge portion of our lives so if I thought if I were to get a job, I wanted one that I truly enjoy and will not feel like I’m dragging myself to work every day. For myself, I cannot imagine working in a research laboratory for 5 days a week for a long period of time.

Of course, there are doubts raised by my family and friends questioning why I didn’t stick to a Science-related job. After all, it’s something that I’ve spent 4 years learning in University and I’m familiar with it.

However, I wanted to get myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to try something new while I’m still young. We all need that little courage to cross the thin line between getting too comfortable with what you are familiar with and taking a leap of faith to try new things that may eventually open doors to greater opportunities.

What if you don’t have the skills your employer is looking for?

Although atomi hired me based on my past working experience as a part-timer in temp jobs, I still needed to learn more retail, e-commerce, marketing and business development skills to do my job of helping atomi further expand its market overseas.

millennial Singapore SME
atomi serves both local and international clients with handcrafted, artisan furniture from Japan

Working at atomi has granted me opportunities to undergo structured training that included on the job training, attending external certifiable courses, as well as events like masterclasses / workshops –
some of these events are supported by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

e2i connects industry professionals with companies and trade professionals to provide solutions in human capital, training, and technologies, etc. These outreach networking events / masterclasses / workshops gave me the opportunities to learn from the trade experts – platforms whereby they shared their experiences and support functions (for example) can be applicable in business development such atomi’s.

millennial Singapore SME
Denecia says, “Equipped with my new knowledge and skills, I could work with my colleagues to develop and run an e-commerce site to reach out to overseas customers without them having to walk into one of our shops.”

Why work in a startup company/SME?

Both SMEs and MNCs offers very different working experiences but I chose an SME as a first job because I believe they can offer a steeper learning curve than a large, established MNC.

Most startups and SMEs operate with only a small team of people and that means that almost everyone will be involved in all aspects of the business, from administrative work, operations, marketing, communications, business development, right down to expansion plans.

It is a great platform to learn everything from A to Z and understand the big picture of what is required in the industry.

millennial Singapore SME
“After almost 6 months of working in atomi, it has proven to me that what I expect to learn from a SME is indeed a reality. Within 6 months, I was exposed to various aspects of the business and this is something which a job with MNCs may probably not be able to offer.”

No doubt that it may take at least a few years to fully grasp a particular business function, which is also why many MNCs offer department rotations only after 1-2 years, but I feel that it is also beneficial to be exposed to many business functions concurrently, to not only understand the business structure quickly but also take the opportunity to find out which area your passion lies in.

Contributed by Denecia Quek.