Social Service Tribe is made up of more than 15,000 professionals working in over 450 social service agencies. They support people in need across five main social service areas: disabilities & special needs, children & youth, mental health, seniors, and families. With over 30 job roles available, individuals can discover opportunities to make a meaningful impact across diverse career fields such as corporate services, counselling, and psychology.
We speak to Social Service Scholars Jeremy Heng (Clinical Psychologist) and Dylan Koh (currently training as a Physiotherapist) to learn more about what inspired them to pursue a career in social service.
What sparked your interest in social service?
Jeremy: Through volunteering in various roles, I had the opportunity to interact with different segments of society. This led me to realise that there was a genuine need for psychological services, especially for families who struggle with the stresses of day-to-day living. Poor mental health may perpetuate some of the challenges these families experience, like sustaining employment or coping with school. I felt that I could do more for these people.
Dylan: I had the opportunity to volunteer with Singapore Disability Sports Council, which was an eye-opening experience for me. I was impressed by the tenacity and capabilities of the athletes, which made me realise that individuals with disabilities are equally capable if they are given the opportunity. This experience inspired me to seek out a career that would let me work closely with people with disabilities, and empower them to lead active, independent lives in the community.
Dylan Koh Pek Tiong
Master of Physiotherapy – Curtin University
What is the driving force behind your decision to work in social service?
Jeremy: My beliefs and values remind me to reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, and support them in meaningful ways as a Psychologist.
Dylan: My parents and grandparents have been a strong influence in shaping my drive and desire to help others. Even though they are not working in social service, they readily lend their help to those in need. Their consistent acts of kindness spurred my decision to join social service.
Besides passion, what other qualities do you think are needed to work in this industry?
Jeremy: A sense of humour! Clients appreciate that appropriate injection of laughter during the course of work, which can get serious. It helps to create a sense of familiarity and humanness in our daily interactions with them, by reminding all of us that we are more similar than different.
Dylan: Empathy and flexibility. In social service, our key role is to empower people and drive positive change. Every individual’s needs are different, and there will be variations in the situations we encounter. We need to be able to manage changes in circumstances and be creative in problem-solving. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others is essential to make meaningful change.
Jeremy Heng Jee Tai
Master of Psychology (Clinical)
– National University of Singapore
What has your experience been like in the sector so far?
Jeremy: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride so far because the work I do is close to my heart and aligns with my values, allowing me to help clients at critical moments in their life journey. I was working with a mother who was prone to using excessive physical punishment with her teenage sons due to her desperation to manage their misbehaviours. I focused on equipping her with emotion regulation skills and alternative parenting strategies, but was met with limited progress and low motivation for change. However, her worsening health condition led her to realise that she may have limited time to spend with the boys, and that became her impetus for change.
Dylan: I had the opportunity to undergo a three-week internship at a Day Rehabilitation Centre for the elderly as a therapist assistant. I worked with elderly patients who were recovering from stroke and learnt from an experienced therapist. It was a fulfilling experience as it allowed me to better appreciate the concepts taught during my studies in university.
What do you like most about working in social service?
Jeremy: The privilege of being allowed by families I work with to enter into the most intimate aspects of their lives – to hear their stories, be part of their journey, and witness their struggles and victories.
Dylan: The powerful sense of camaraderie. As a Physiotherapist in the adult and elderly services, I work with professionals from different disciplines to instil purposeful changes and empower lives. The strong comradeship creates greater collaboration to help our clients overcome daily challenges.
Why did you choose to take up the Social Service Scholarship?
Jeremy: To receive financial support to pursue an area of study that I’m interested in, and then to be able to use that knowledge to serve people and communities that I feel strongly for – it was a natural choice.
Dylan: The overseas exchange programme allowed me to broaden my perspective on delivering healthcare services. Locally, there are also plenty of internship opportunities to help consolidate theoretical knowledge and gain practical experience.
What advice would you give to those who are considering the Social Service Scholarship?
Jeremy: If you have a heart for social service, just go for it. You will have opportunities to participate in training and programmes that not only further your professional development, but also help you to take on a more macro view and be sensitive to trends, gaps, and areas for progress.
Dylan: Get involved with the community and volunteer your time at different social service agencies. In this way, you will be able to gain first-hand experience working in the sector and learn valuable insights through interaction with the professionals. I would also encourage you to go for internships so you can gain a better understanding of the work social service professionals do.
We are professionals, proudly empowering Singapore’s people and society to grow.
Discover how our social service professionals help drive positive change and career opportunities in social service at www.socialservicetribe.sg.