24-year-old Feng Zhiying always knew she wanted a career that would give her purpose and meaning. So when officers from the Public Service Commission came down for an information session on scholarships in her first year of Junior College, she naturally gravitated towards the MSF.
Fast-forward several years, and the Peking University Sociology graduate and MSF Overseas Undergraduate Scholar is now a Policy Research Analyst at MSF, where she carries out research on families and children in Singapore.
MSF Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Designation: Policy Research Analyst,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
Studied: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology,
Peking University, China
A Caring Society
Zhiying conducts literature reviews of local and overseas findings, analyses administrative data and collects primary data through surveys, interviews or focus-group discussions. She elaborates, “These research findings inform us about the prevailing trends in Singapore society and its vulnerable groups. This helps us identify areas for intervention, which will also help the various divisions in MSF fine-tune and improve MSF’s policies and programmes.”
And because of growing income inequalities, MSF is keenly aware of the need to provide even more support to families and vulnerable groups in Singapore. “We are working hard to strengthen our social safety nets and improve service delivery to ensure that Singaporeans receive the help they need. My work in MSF enables me to make a difference in the lives of people – this is extremely gratifying regardless of how big or small the contribution may be,” she tells us earnestly.
Nurturing its Staff
MSF officers are also provided with the support and resources they need to serve Singaporeans better. Zhiying shares, “Officers are always encouraged to attend relevant workshops and courses organised by the Civil Service College or external organisations to improve themselves. MSF also organises various internal lunchtime talks, where thought leaders or experts are invited to share information on topics related to our work.
“Since joining MSF just over a year ago, I have had the opportunity to attend a two-week summer school programme offered by the National University of Singapore to build up my social research skills. I’ve also been privileged to attend the 13th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference in Melbourne to learn more about the research being done overseas on families and children.”
And as an MSF scholar, Zhiying has been given additional exposure to MSF’s work during her university days. While her time in China provided her with a different lens with which to look at Singapore, these early internships at MSF allowed her to understand the social issues and challenges in a Singapore context. “It was also good to learn about the initiatives or programmes offered by governments or Non-Governmental Organisations overseas and think about how we could learn from them and apply them in Singapore,” she adds.
A Multitude of Experiences
While studying in Beijing, Zhiying had many opportunities to interact with migrant children who were often left alone at home for long hours and received no help in their studies. She recalls, “Their willingness to learn and their dreams of the future left a deep impression on me. I also came to better understand the role the community plays in helping disadvantaged children, and consequently, the importance of MSF’s work in strengthening the community and helping vulnerable groups.”
As she pursues her passion to make a difference in the lives of Singaporeans, Zhiying has a lot to look forward to at MSF. She says excitedly, “Due to the diversity of MSF’s work, I get to try out and experience different portfolios. My previous internships allowed me to experience the work of the Family Policy Unit and Sector Planning and Development Division. Now, I am working on research on family and children. In the future, I hope to be involved in divisions where I can witness first-hand how policies are implemented!”