In conversation with: Ong Shu Yang on looking onwards and upwards after graduation

In conversation with: Ong Shu Yang on looking onwards and upwards after graduation

In a challenging job market brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduates have had to adapt to industry needs and adjust their expectations. In spite of this, Ong Shu Yang keeps his chin up and maintains an optimistic outlook on life. The BA(Hons) Film graduate from LASALLE College of the Arts reflects on his job search process and shares more about how he is kept busy juggling an apprenticeship and training programme after graduation.

As the graduating batch of 2020, my friends and I had high hopes for the year. After three years of picking up knowledge and skills in film production at LASALLE, I thought I would finally be out in the real world, pursuing my dream of becoming a writer-director. Who knew the coronavirus had other plans?

Before graduating, I was already on the lookout for job opportunities but only a few got back to me for an interview. There were times where I felt so defeated. But after a while, I grew accustomed to it and instead chose to focus on the silver lining.

For instance, job interviews are now all conducted online so this means I can attend several sessions in a day from the comfort of my own home. Imagine having to run around town all day in formal attire in this heat! The time saved on commuting also means I can prepare myself better before interviews to get into the right headspace.

Additionally, while the entire process is filled with anxiety and dread—will I get a callback? Should I accept? What if a better offer comes along? Should I wait?— I think these dilemmas have trained me to be a better decision maker.

All in, my job search took three months before I finally received a job offer at media production agency alice, and was also simultaneously selected for David Puttnam’s ProducersLab, an initiative by IMDA and LASALLE to prepare media professionals with practical skills. Given my commitments to the latter, my boss at alice further recommended me to take on a writer’s position under the SGUnited Traineeship programme as it offers more flexibility in working hours. This arrangement worked out well because I get to study and work at the same time.

On most days at alice, I work on in-house projects, producing scripts for new content series. Occasionally, client projects also come my way and I assist in developing proposal decks based on a provided brief. In short, I spend a lot of time writing and researching.

Meanwhile at the ProducersLab, I am given the opportunity to develop my own TV series pitch through a series of online lectures. It is extremely humbling to be in the same class with industry professionals with years of experience ahead of me. Through this programme, I have gained deeper insights on the wider film markets outside of Singapore and learned more about the inner workings of our media industry.

I would say that in spite of the curveballs the coronavirus has thrown my way, I have managed to keep myself busy with relevant experience that will set me on the right track towards my career goals.

As a fresh graduate, I consider myself very fortunate to be able to secure an apprenticeship and training programme during a time like this, even though the process came with its fair share of turbulence.

If there is one thing I learned from this experience, it is to not dwell too deeply on rejection. Learn to move on. The most important thing is to not be stagnant and to always keep looking ahead.

To all the graduates out there still on the job hunt, remember that rejection is part of the process, not the end of it.