This interview is the first part of a 5 part series on Mediacorp’s Capital 95.8FM featuring a Hackwagon alumni and his career journey.
A former delivery man who worked at one of Asia’s start-up concierge and online delivery services company scored a new career goal with his new-found ICT skill. Mr Gabriel See Wei Yang, who is in his 30s and a graduate in Law and IT from a foreign university, is one of several working adults and PMETs (Professional, Managers, Executives and Technicians) who have chosen to pursue skills related courses at private educational institutions such as Hackwagon Academy (“Hackwagon”) to switch their career paths for brighter prospects. After completing a 7-week Data Science Course, Mr See managed to get a new job as an Assistant IT Manager at one of the largest independent, private medical laboratories in Singapore. Armed with his latest Python coding skills, he hopes to fulfil his aim of becoming an ICT professional and contribute more to the development of value-added innovations for the diagnostic healthcare industry.
Yixin: Hi, a warm welcome to Gabriel who is currently working as an Assistant Manager at Quest Laboratory. He is currently working in some IT-related functions in Quest Laboratory
Gabriel: Yes yes, indeed.
Yixin: Specifically, which aspect of IT do you dabble in?
Gabriel: Actually, my job requires me to work across all sub-functions of IT. For example, cybersecurity, and basic infrastructure.
Yixinn: So by basic infrastructure you are referring to IT infrastructure such as the entreprise internet, as well as any other infrastructure which the company might need for the IT operations of the company?
Yixin: Wow, you job really encompasses a wide scope of responsibility
Gabriel: Laughs* Yes, but its still manageable.
Yixin: So you were previously also working in the IT sector prior to this job right?
Gabriel: Yes, I have actually been working in the IT sector for quite a few years already. But all of these stints were not based in Singapore, but in Hongkong. Of course, it then became harder to find a job when I came back to settle down in Singapore. Perhaps the time when I came back wasn’t right, but there really weren’t a lot of people who were hiring a few years back. So I did a bit of freelance work as well as part time jobs, helping people to fix their computer. In a nutshell, I did every kind of jobs that came my way. It was tough, but you have to do what you have to do to get by.
It was during that period that I took on some courses in my free time. And subsequently, I landed my current job.
Yixin: So what was your educational background like?
Gabriel: I did a degree in computing, with a specialisation in law.
Yixin: So you did your degree overseas?
Gabriel: Yes, I did my degree in the UK.
Yixin: So after you completed your degree in UK, you then went to Hongkong to pursue your career?
Yixin: When did you decide to come back from Hongkong to settle down in Singapore?
Gabriel: 2 to 3 years ago.
Yixin: So basically, you came back in around 2015?
Gabriel: Yes, but even then I still rotated around different stints between Singapore and Hongkong. Based on observation, Hongkong had a more robust and bustling economy. My life in Hongkong was pretty good, the only downside was that the education system for kids in Hongkong isn’t as good as Singapore’s. So that was when we decided to move back to Singapore. But once I came back, I found it hard to land a job. The job market was really terrible. So I continued to straddle between different job stints in Singapore and Hongkong. It was only until last year in Octcober when I couldn’t take it anymore that I came back to Singapore for good to look for a proper job. But again, It was really hard to get a job. So I could only do part time, freelance work, as well as take courses to upgrade myself.
Yixin: What kind of part time jobs did you do?
Gabriel: Laughs* I literally did everything
Yixin: You mean even as a university graduate with IT background with specialisation in law, you had trouble looking for a job?
Gabriel: Yes, there really wasn’t any job offers coming my way, and I literally had to do any part time jobs that was available. For example: Food delivery, helping people to fix their computers. So during that time, I really dabble in a wide variety of odd jobs.
Yixin: So what was your psyche like during that period of time?
Gabriel: Laughs* Well, in my mind I was thinking, life still has to go on right? The most important thing is to not give up, because I know once you stop hunting, the inertia to start again would be greater later on.
Yixin: So did you feel depressed during that period of time? Given that you were in your prime in your thirties, and yet you were relegated to working in odd jobs
Gabriel: Of course I felt depressed! When you have been working in a senior position for a long period of time, only to find yourself in my predicament. It was really a new low in my life. I definitely felt depressed.
Yixin: Why did you not entertain the thought of giving up?
Gabriel: Laughs* Is there ever a choice call “giving up” in life?
Yixin: Laughs* Yes you are right, I mean you still have your family to think about. How many kids do you have?
Yixin: 3 kids, so actually the pressure must have been pretty immense for you.
Yixin: So that was when you took courses to upgrade yourself. So what kind of course did you take?
Gabriel: I took a course in python, which is a programming language. Actually to me, it wasn’t something new. Afterall, I had an IT background, and work in the IT field for a really long period of time. I did it to refresh my currency in this area, and to keep up with the latest technologies and changes in this field.
Yixin: Alright, so we will continue to have Gabriel on the set tomorrow to find out more from him: how did this programming language python give gabriel a new lease of life.
Yixin: There are probably a lot of white-collared employees who are in a similar predicament as Gabriel. Actually, the Singapore government has this program call – Tech Skills Accelerator, TESA for short, in place to help Singaporeans to upskills and superboost their career. The main aim of this program is to help Singaporeans, especially the PMETs to gain technical skills that will help them stay relevant in today’s digital economy. So this program will be renewed every year, and it aims to provide 20,000 enrolment for professional technical courses within a span of 3 years. And Gabriel was one of the beneficiary. So if you want to find out more, you can search online for more information regarding TESA, which is a program launched by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Look forward to tomorrow’s program, as we learn more from Gabriel how this program and python programming has helped him make the career switch.
Gabriel was able to move into the growing tech industry after working part time for various stints through making use of government subsidies for programmes under the TeSA initiative.
For more details on the course Gabriel took, you can visit Data Science 101
For part 2 of the interview, you can visit Part 2