Singapore’s media industry is making new strides
in recent years. With Hollywood blockbusters shot
in Singapore such as Agent 47 and collaborations
with world-class partners such as 20th Century
Fox and HBO Asia, there are growing opportunities
for local media talent to produce compelling and
quality content for an international audience.
The Media Education Scheme (MES) is one of the
Media Development Authority’s initiatives to groom
aspiring talent in the media sector to be the next
generation of leaders in creativity and innovation.
More than 190 scholars have been
supported by the MES, with some
successfully establishing careers
in media-related fields as film or TV directors,
game developers, music producers, journalists,
authors or even visual effects artists. Notable
scholars include Anthony Chen, director of
Ilo Ilo and founder of Giraffe Pictures; Wong
Hock Hian, who was involved in Dreamworks
Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon; popular
children’s author Adeline Foo, with her best-selling
series titled The Diary of Amos Lee; as
well as up-and-coming filmmaker Kirsten Tan,
whose film "Popeye" was recently selected for
the 11th Cinéfondation's L’Atelier at Cannes Film
Two MES scholars, Yunita Ong and Sydney
Anastasia Yeo, share how the scholarship is
taking them a step closer to achieving their
dreams and goals.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE MDA
MEDIA EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP?
Yunita Ong: There were actually several
scholarship offers on the table for me, but I
was set on a career in the news industry. While
I was interning at The Straits Times, the Human
Resources manager at the Singapore Press
Holdings (SPH) informed me of the MDA Media
Education Scholarship. I hadn’t heard about it
then but I decided to go for it – and I can say
that I have never looked back. It was the perfect
fit for me, because it was a scholarship that
gave me the opportunity me to study journalism
in university and work in the news industry after
Sydney Anastasia Yeo
MDA Media Education Overseas Scholar
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Recorded Music,
New York University, US
"Savour the new, hold yourself to the highest
standards, and create every day."
Sydney Anastasia Yeo: When I started
looking for a scholarship, I’d already gotten my
acceptance letter from New York University’s
(NYU) Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music to
study music production and engineering. It was
such an unconventional course, so I knew it was
going to be difficult to find an organisation to
sponsor me. When I found the MDA scholarship
page, I immediately jumped at the application
process. A scholarship that allowed me to
pursue my passion, and create a career around
it, was simply too good of an opportunity to
SHARE WITH US SOME INTERESTING
HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR SCHOLARSHIP
JOURNEY SO FAR.
Yunita: Northwestern University has one of
the best journalism schools in the US, and I’ve
had so many opportunities there. The most
notable experience I had was when I interned at
Forbes Magazine in New York City – my duties
there involved conducting research on big
businesses in Asia. It was then that I realised my
interest in reporting on international economies.
Sydney: The biggest highlight would definitely
be my time at the Clive Davis Institute. I learned
so much about the ins and outs of the music
industry there. I grew as a recording/mix
engineer through using state-of-the-art studio
facilities, became much more critical of my own
song-writing process, and surrounded myself
with incredibly talented and creative people.
I was lucky enough to be mentored by
amazing professors who are well-respected
and still active in their fields. I got to learn from
engineers, managers, songwriters, journalists,
and lawyers, and gained exposure to all the
different aspects and perspectives of the
music industry. They were always willing to do
everything within their power to help me, be it
by giving me the push I needed to move ahead
or helping me get in touch with the right people.
HOW HAVE YOU DEVELOPED BOTH
PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY IN
YOUR MES JOURNEY?
Yunita: I’ve grown a lot as a journalist at
Northwestern University. The Forbes internship
I did allowed me to figure out the direction I wish to take in my career. Studying journalism
in the US has also allowed me to observe
and participate in their media industry, giving
me new perspectives especially on issues in
Singapore. I feel that living abroad has helped
me become more independent and resilient as
Sydney: I’ve learnt a lot at my various
internships at record labels, music blogs, award-winning
recording studios, and established
PR firms. These experiences have helped me
cultivate many skills across sectors in the field.
I’ve also learnt more about developing and
maintaining a brand. As a musician or writer, I’m
much more consistent now because I put more
thought and care into editing and presenting the
project. Sometimes this results in me second-guessing
myself, so some projects never come
to light, but I’d rather be stringent than prolific.
MDA Media Education Overseas Scholar
Singapore Press Holdings Limited)
Bachelor of Science (Journalism),
with Double Major in Economics,
Northwestern University, US
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF
CONTRIBUTING TO THE LOCAL MEDIA
SCENE IN THE FUTURE?
Yunita: I hope to pursue my interest in
business journalism focusing on international
markets – specifically, emerging Asian
economies and their growth stories. My Forbes
internship really helped solidify my interest in
the region. I think Singapore is an ideal position
to watch the Asian growth story from since
we’re sitting at the confluence of East and West.
Sydney: There are a number of independent
Singaporean publications and record labels
that I would be happy to contribute work to.
If there were no suitable open positions or if I
had the capital, I might start my own magazine or video series. For my senior year project, I
conceptualised a magazine called Homefound
that I never got the chance to follow up on. It
was based on finding home no matter where you
are, a concept that could easily be translated to
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR
ASPIRING MDA MEDIA EDUCATION
SCHOLARS WHO WISH TO FOLLOW YOUR
Yunita: Definitely demonstrate your interest
in journalism as a career. You get bonus points
if you have some writing and experience under
your belt. The media industry is dynamic,
innovative and exciting. A career within it will be
challenging but also lots of fun!
Sydney: Represent your talents as an artist
honestly. Think carefully about your brand
and your identity: Where are you now? Where
do you want to take yourself in the future?
What have you already learned from your
current experience and how can you make
yourself better? What may change in the short
term or long term? Consider if the schools or
programmes you are applying for are right for
you and convey how you see yourself growing
through the programme.
Also, keep your senses open for beauty.
Savour the new, hold yourself to the highest
standards, and create every day.