From Mechanic to Software Engineer: How requalification hired him for a whole new job, Jobs News & Top Stories



The saying “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” rings true for Seow Xian Jin, now a software engineer at Circles.Life.

He studied mechanical engineering at the National University of Singapore, a discipline totally unrelated to software development. “Ten years ago, engineering was one of the most sought-after degrees. I chose the course for the safety it promised, ”says Seow.

A brief stint in commercial engineering, however, convinced him that this field was not suitable for him. In his own words, the scope of the work “didn’t energize me.”

In his search for an industry and career path that spoke to him, Mr. Seow enrolled in a data science boot camp, which was highly recommended and carried the promise of jobs with a good starting salary. “It was essentially a two-year data, statistics and programming course condensed into a three-month data science immersion.”

The course took a toll on her finances and took a long time. In addition to studying, he had to prepare five full-scale presentations involving intense data collection, programming, and storytelling, one of which was a final project to present to potential employers.

While he quickly realized that data science was not the path he wanted to take, preparing for the presentations pointed him in the right direction.

“More than the data science and statistics related content of the course itself, creating a user interface for presentations (which required front-end development skills and knowledge of programming languages ​​like HTML, CSS and Javascript) so that people could interact with my trained model in real time, and selling this model to a fictitious audience was what I enjoyed the most, ”he says, adding that it was the first step in the process. software engineering.

In 2020, he signed up for a web development boot camp on Udemy to arm himself with the basics that would allow him to step in the door to a software engineer role.

Mr. Seow (far left) worked in many trades, including chef and bartender, before finding his calling in software development. PHOTO: SEOW XIAN JIN

Find the right fit

Mr. Seow’s case is not isolated. YouGov research reveals that 53% of Singaporeans have jobs that are not related to their education or academic qualifications. A recent LinkedIn report also shows that three in five companies can hire people from another industry if the skills they have match the job requirements.

As Mr. Seow discovered, forward-looking software development companies are more concerned with the skills needed for development work. He says, “It’s not what you’re qualified for, it’s what you’re capable of.” When it comes to software development, in particular, your degree isn’t going to help you at all. Every day you learn something new at work.

Nothing beats learning on the job, even if it means starting from scratch, says Seow. Having this attitude has helped him make the most of situations.

With Covid-19 and the economic downturn it has brought on, Mr Seow has found the job search more difficult than he had anticipated.

After a series of unsuccessful interviews, he applied for a job in the software industry under the SG Traineeship program, but did not meet the eligibility criteria due to his year of graduation. However, he managed to impress his potential employer during the interview and was offered an internship by the company and a salary corresponding to the internship program and the conditions of the SG package.

Although not coming from a computer background or having no coding experience, Mr. Seow’s hard work and thirst for knowledge landed him a full-time position at the end of his career. mandate. In May this year he joined Circles.Life in digital telecommunications as a software engineer.

● Learn more about the LinkedIn Skills Path here.



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