Editor's Picks

Is Your Uni Degree Really Relevant To Your Career? We Asked 12 Singapore Millennials

It’s a question where the answer evolves with every job change an individual experiences.

“How relevant is your degree to what you are doing now?”

From personal experience, relevant…enough.

As a writer at Vulcan Post, this is actually my third job since graduation, and also the one which perhaps draws from what I learnt in my 4 years studying sociology the most.

Mostly, though, it’s the skills that I’ve learnt (time and project management, writing coherently) that have been applied more frequently than whatever theories I’ve memorised for my exams.

This is especially so for degrees that don’t ‘dictate’ your career path (think: it’s more likely for a medical student to go into the medical field as compared to ‘leak’ to other industries), so there’s usually freedom to explore job scopes in an industry that isn’t listed on the “possible career paths” section on your course’s page.

In February, TODAY published an article which covered the job search woes of Singaporean millennial Sin Xin Yi, who took almost one year and 50 applications before landing his first job.

He cited that “it is more difficult for arts and social sciences graduates like himself to land a job upon graduation”, and that “his peers from the university who had found jobs early on tended to land jobs not related to their disciplines”.

Which can be a double-edged sword – on one hand, you get to carve out your own unique career path and aren’t bound by a degree that you might have regretted taking, but on the other, you’ve wasted 3-4 years of fees for a ‘piece of paper’.

Some might even argue that a degree isn’t even that important when it comes to getting employed, and work experience is what’s valued more than any first class honours or dean’s lists.

While that is a conversation for another day, we still wanted to get some insights from working millennials on whether or not their degrees have played, or are playing an important role in their day-to-day duties.

Here’s what we found out.

Ming Feng, Content and Growth Marketing & Part-Time DJ

Ming Feng

What was your degree in?

Economics & Finance

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

It’s like a very weird line, since I’m in a personal finance app company. I suppose the degree helps with understanding content and financial instruments? But it’s just that.

For the marketing and growth side, it’s a lot of reading up and experimenting with what works. For the creative generating side, confirm need to pick up on my own. A communications degree might be able to give me more on this side? But I will probably have problems with the content, since it’s finance.

Shazni, Content Producer at Vulcan Post, Photographer & Storyteller at Millennials of Singapore

Shazni

What was your degree in?

Spatial Design

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

No relevance, really. Majoring in Landscape Design, the job market for the industry wasn’t particularly hiring when I graduated. While some of my peers did land a related job, I was one of the unlucky ones who didn’t, and found myself going for countless interviews without success. So I took a step back to look at other things that I am good at – my interest in tech, photography, and writing.

That’s how I landed myself this job, and it’s my first full-time job too. Let’s just say that my hobby became my career instead of the course I studied. I still enjoy looking at landscapes and architecture in my free time though!

Anmol Vaswani, Video Producer

Anmol Vaswani

What was your degree in?

Communication and Media Studies

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

For me, I basically chose the media industry after my O levels and stuck with it, hoping things would work out somehow. Working as a video producer right now, I think I got lucky because my degree is kind of related to what I’m doing.

But a lot of modules were very much theory-based, which hasn’t really proven to be THAT useful to me. So it’s a bit of a 50-50.

Eleana Lim, Regional Marketeer For Sharp & Team Manager Of A League of Legends Team

Eleana Lim

What was your degree in?

Advertising (diploma)

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

I would say to a certain extent only, because the things you learn in school are just stepping stones to help you survive in the industry, the most of the later part of your job scope really depends on your experience and how you adapt to situations.

Natasha Tan, Sales & Content Marketing

Natasha Tan

What was your degree in?

Journalism and Public Relations

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

Truth be told, I really thought I was going to be a journalist. Write articles, change the world, win Nobel Prize. Instead now I’m on the other end of the spectrum; selling media spaces to clients. It’s not a bad job since I still get to come up with content ideas. But it’s completely different from writing a 600-word article.

Other than that, my degree did teach me about SEO planning, and understanding media audiences, so I guess something good came out of it. On hindsight, my parents wasted 8k on my PR degree. I realised it wasn’t for me after leaving my first job.

Still, no regrets!

Daniel Lim, Managing Editor

Daniel Lim

What was your degree in?

Bachelor of Commerce (Finance & Marketing)

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

Yes and no. I’m not exactly in the finance or marketing industry per se, but having a Finance degree definitely helps in running a startup. And the sustainability of our business relies on advertising, so Marketing definitely plays a part as well.

Nur Faezah Ibrahim, School Counsellor

Nur Faezah Ibrahim

What was your degree in?

Linguistics

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

It’s not directly relevant, but there are aspects of linguistics that are used in the therapy models. If I wanted to purse a linguistics-specialised job such as being a speech therapist, I would need to take masters.

And ain’t nobody got time or money for that.

Johnathan Chua, Business Director

Johnathan Chua

What was your degree in?

Business Management

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

As much as statistics have proven that our degrees aren’t reflective of the career that we’ll eventually pursue, I would still highly recommend the pursuance of a degree.

The modules that the universities ‘forced’ me to take have really broaden my horizons and touched on many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise Google-d or bring myself to learn. Those insights have, on many occasions, proven very useful!

Natasha Azman, Account Executive

Natasha Azman

What was your degree in?

Political Science, Law & Society

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

I chose to study Political Science in uni, but what do I work as now? I manage influencers, write articles for a lifestyle publication, and work on social media platforms.

My degree gave me a background in writing (which is how I got into the media industry), but other than that…my 3 years in uni? Waste. Of. Money.

Roger Yeo, Photographer, Cinematographer & Founder of Camistry Lab

Roger Yeo

What was your degree in?

Industrial Design

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

When I was young, people always told me to study what I like. Therefore, I pursued a degree in Industrial Design. After graduation, I decided to follow my passion in photography instead and I never regretted it.

A degree does not set your future. What really sets the future is your heart and dreams.

Oh ChengKok, Financial Services Consultant at AIA & Trainer at Value Investing College

Oh ChengKok

What was your degree in?

Mathematics and Economics

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

Even though my degree dabbled with many technicalities, what I got most out of it is the thought process of solving a complex problem.

While I don’t use 80% of what was taught in school, I was able to use 100% of the skill set of acquiring, processing, and using information to help people financially.

Syarafina Halim, Founder Of The Buku Bookstore & Part-Time Customer Service Officer

Syarafina Halim

What was your degree?

Sociology

Is your degree relevant to your current job?

I’m sad to say that I don’t utilise the bulk of what I’ve learnt during my course of study (BA in Sociology).

But I can say that my degree has gifted me with soft skills that I find useful in both running a business and in my part-time job, since it pushed me to hone my language and communication skills. Also, sociology has really helped broaden my perspectives, and made me more willing to learn about other people, their stories, and their motivations; this helps me relate to, and thus work better with, my customers and clients.

Does Your Degree Really Matter To Your Career?

From this group of respondents, not really.

However, a large majority of them still asserted that the importance of their degree was less about the content learnt, but more of the skills picked up along the way, and the world of knowledge that they were exposed to.

Does your degree tie in closely with your current job? Let us know!