In the Singapore Public Service, exciting career opportunities await those who have the drive and determination to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. And for outstanding young men and women who strive to uphold the service’s values of integrity, service, and excellence, the PSC Scholarships present many opportunities to contribute to this cause.
PSC scholarship holders Hong Xiaojun and Jonathan Lin share with us what they have learnt as PSC scholarship holders and public officers, and how they are contributing to Singapore.
What sparked your interest in the PSC scholarships and the Public Service?
Hong Xiaojun: I never seriously contemplated a career in the Public Service prior to applying for a PSC scholarship, as my interest in Economics had always led me to consider the private sector as my first choice in terms of career options.
Nonetheless, when the opportunity to apply for a PSC scholarship arose, it sparked my curiosity as to what learning opportunities and options a career in the public sector could offer. As I found out more about the wide range of work public officers carried out, I became increasingly interested in how I could contribute and at the same time, learn about the various aspects of nation-building.
Jonathan Lin: As far as I can remember, I have always loved Singapore. As a kid, I very much adored the things that represented Singapore’s excellence – drawing MRT trains and HDB flats for art class and celebrating National Day enthusiastically every year without fail!
As a teenager, I grew to appreciate more intangible aspects of Singapore’s success. Coming from a lower-middle income family, my parents sometimes struggled to cover household expenses. But thanks to government policies, food, utilities, healthcare, and education were always affordable. This experience has made me firmly believe in the power of public policy to effect positive change. So when it came to choosing a career, the Public Service was a no-brainer. I wanted to wake up every morning knowing that my work served a higher purpose.
Public Service Commission Scholar
Land Division Ministry of Transport
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities at work today.
Xiaojun: At the Ministry of Transport, Land Division, I am the policy officer in charge of various areas. Firstly, I handle parking policies and cross-border traffic issues. I am also in charge of regulating taxis and private hire cars and their drivers, along with any associated legislative work to support our regulations.
Lastly, I am planning for the car-lite vision that we have for Singapore – eventually we wish to have less reliance on cars, so what I am doing now is tackling transport policies in the context of our future towns and precincts and thinking of ways to change the norms and mind-sets on car usage.
Jonathan: I am a Manager in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)-Strategy Group’s Economic team. This is a strategic policy unit that supports the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to identify and translate whole-of-government priorities, for both the medium and long-term. We also help strengthen coordination across agencies to address issues that cut across multiple domains. A key part of our job is to articulate these intersections and their whole-of-government implications, and help ensure that these are accounted for in our policies.
Public Service Commission Scholar
Strategy Group Prime Minister’s Office
What do you look forward to in your career?
Xiaojun: To see more of the policies that I am in charge of translate to actual measures, and for my efforts to come to fruition. In particular, I long to see the day when Singaporeans truly embrace a car-lite way of living!
Jonathan: Our jobs and economic strategy will be a key priority for the government for the next few years. This is an issue that I am interested in, both intellectually and personally. I look forward to working with my counterparts in the economic domain to shape our long-term strategies, while continuing to grow as a public officer.
What kind of qualities should PSC Scholars and public officers possess?
Xiaojun: To have the grit and determination to carry on with what you believe in and what you think is right, despite what others may say. With social media being so prevalent these days, every move by public officers is scrutinised by the public and critical voices of detractors are amplified. We must have the courage to stand up for what we think should be done.
It is equally important for public officers not to shy from voicing our opinions within the workplace and to bring fresh perspectives to the organisation if we believe that we have something to contribute, as only then can the organisation evolve and improve.
Jonathan: As a young officer, I learned that it is extremely important to be humble and willing to learn. No matter how accomplished you might have been in school, you are often the least experienced person in the room when you first start work. There is much to learn from your bosses and seniors who have gone before you. I have made my fair share of mistakes but I am fortunate to have had great bosses who were willing to look beyond that to teach me, continue to place their trust in me, and give me even greater responsibilities. These are lessons I will never forget and I will always be grateful for.