Singapore Business and Commerce Graduate Jobs Guide
Singapore is one of the world’s most free economies (ranked 2nd in the world according to the Index of Economic Freedom), and financial services are a major industry both domestically and exported, which makes it an ideal place to get a job in business and commerce. Singapore is also home to some of the best universities in Asia, such as the National University of Singapore (ranked 24th in the world and 1st in Asia by the QS University Rankings) and Nanyang Technological University.
What do I need to get a job in the Singaporean Business and Commerce industry?
As graduate programs go, they are relatively scarce in comparison with other graduate jobs, with the main programs being offered by multinational corporations such as the Big Four. It is advisable to seek these out and apply for as many as you can as a graduate program provides one with more responsibility and greater freedom to learn, prove yourself and advance quickly, than ordinary entry-level jobs. That said, for those unable to secure a graduate program position, there are many entry-level jobs in business that also provide employees with the opportunity for advancement and success. The job market in Singapore is extremely competitive, with employers using high academic performance and relevant work experience as indicators of a graduate’s suitability for a graduate job.
Your choice of tertiary qualifications will determine the type of graduate job to which you will be best suited. Most Singaporean universities offer both general and specialised business degrees.
Some of the more common degree options include:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
The Bachelor of Business Administration is a good general degree for anyone considering pursuing a career in business, as it combines flexibility (in the form of a variety of majors) with a solid base of fundamental skills that will be universally relevant. Some institutions will provide the option to follow a more specialised path than simply choosing a major, by offering variations on the Bachelor of Business Administration, such as the BBA (Computer Science), the BBA (Logistics and Supply Chain Management) and the BBA (Accounting).
- Bachelor of Business Administration (Combined)
Because business skills are applicable across all industries, and because business benefits from knowledge and skills gained in other disciplines (such as science), many people find it advantageous to do the BBA as part of a double degree. While the workload is higher, employers look very favourably on the holders of a degree because it indicates a wider knowledge-base and a new perspective and skills that may be of use in the business world.
- Bachelor of Economics
An economics degree will provide less of a general knowledge base than will the BBA – rather it will provide an in-depth learning of the theories and skills required to equip graduates to solve economic problems using statistical techniques. As with the BBA, a BEcon can also be studied as part of a double degree.
English is the main language of business in Singapore, however it would be expedient to learn Malay as well, and for those looking to engage fully with the international business community, proficiency in other Asian languages such as Mandarin or Japanese will help to set you above other candidates.
Major Choice and Job Direction in Business
Some of the common specialisations for people in business are listed below. Most universities will offer these as majors, and there may also be others, depending on your university.
The role of the accountant is to manage and analyse the records of a company’s financial position and performance. Statements of this information are prepared and presented to stakeholders and management, which helps them make informed decisions.
- Human Resource Management (HRM)
Human resource management deals with the hiring, training, maintenance and firing of employees. In all companies, HR is present, although only large organisations tend to have a dedicated HR department. For other businesses, recruitment officers and training coordinators may be hired on a contractual basis, to assist companies when needed.
In essence, marketing is concerned with the communication of a product or service’s differentiable advantage to consumers, in particular in terms of how said product/service will satisfy consumer needs in a way that competitors’ products/services will not. This field is quite broad and includes advertising, PR, e-marketing, internal marketing, marketing research.
- Information Systems
Information systems is extremely useful for those looking to take advantage of the digital revolution, which has already transformed the way we practice business and conduct everyday activities. Info systems is different to studying “Information Technology” (IT) – although the two do sometimes overlap, Info Systems is much more business oriented while IT is more technical.
- Finance/Wealth Management
Finance is the stream of choice for aspiring bankers. Types of skills taught in this speciality including pricing assets, analysing the financial market and making predictions based on current data.
- International Business
International business is a particularly relevant stream for Singaporeans, given its position as a nexus for international trade and its status as a free economy. This stream looks at the policies, cultural milieus and mechanisms which enable and affect the functioning of globalisation as well as domestic trade.
- Quantitative Finance
The hard math, computing and statistical skills are taught in quantitative finance are in great demand by employers across many different industries. Banking is the most common industry in which these mathematicians find work – they often work alongside analysts in investment banks, among other things. Actuarial studies may be considered a variation of this stream, as it uses many of the same techniques and skills but applied in the context of insurance and risk assessment.
Starting salaries for business graduates in Singapore will vary depending on the type of job performed. According to the Hay Group’s 2014 survey, business and commerce is not the highest paid industry for recent graduates (with engineers, IT workers and lawyers receiving higher starting salaries) – however that is not to say that business graduates are poorly paid. The 2013 Graduate Employment survey conducted by Singaporean Ministry of Manpower cites a median starting salary of $3000 for BBA graduates. Honours students typically command higher starting salaries.