Left: Lu Huijun is an MCI Information Service Scholar. She holds a bachelor's degree in Fine Art (Extension Degree) from Goldsmiths, University of London.
Right: Faustina Lim is an MCI Information Service Scholar. She studied Journalism at New York University.
In this digital age where technology and services connect people in more ways than one, and the information landscape is noisier than ever, the ability to effectively communicate and reach out to people has become increasingly challenging.
With that in mind, the work done by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has become more crucial than ever. MCI ensures that Singaporeans are heard, connected, and engaged as citizens of Singapore. This includes enhancing communications through effective translation of government communications in the official languages in Singapore to reach out to our multi-racial society, as well as informing and engaging Singaporeans on policies and issues.
In addition to this key role in public communications, MCI also oversees the development of the infocomm technology, cyber security, and media sectors; the national library, national archives and public libraries.
Acting as the link between citizens and government are MCI Information Service Scholars Faustina Lim and Lu Huijun.
29-year-old Faustina studied journalism and is currently Assistant Director (Content Regulation), Information Policy Division, Ministry of Communications and Information. As part of her career development, Faustina was rotated to divisions in MCI to gain experience in different aspects of government communications work. She was subsequently posted to the Ministry of Health where she was a Senior Manager (Research and Strategic Messaging) in the Communications and Engagement Group, before returning to MCI.
Huijun has a Fine Arts degree and is currently a Manager (Corporate Communications), Corporate Communications Division, Ministry of National Development. The 26-year-old is part of the team that drives Whole-of-Government communication through marketing communications initiatives and campaigns.
They may have started from very different places, but their paths converged in the dynamic workplace that is MCI.
The First Contact
Faustina remembers how she encountered the MCI Scholarship. “I discovered the scholarship through the BrightSparks magazine!” she exclaims. She read the article about MCI, and was intrigued by the prospect of working on government communications. Fascinated since childhood by the way words could transport people, she was compelled to apply for the MCI Information Service Scholarship.
Conversely, Huijun went through a different process. She had taken up an internship teaching Art and English Literature to Secondary School students when she decided to move away from teaching and try something new. “I wanted to do something that is still able to create an impact on society, but in a different way.”
As she was considering her options, the MCI Information Service Scholarship stood out. “I remember how it stated that it would ‘consider students pursuing any field of study',” she emphasises. “MCI reflected a progressive mindset, and to me, that was very appealing.”
The Moment of Decision
While applying for the scholarship, Faustina admits that she knew little about MCI's work apart from what was written on the website. As such, she kept an open mind about her options. However she made up her mind to choose MCI right in the midst of her interview. “I got a good vibe for the culture,” she recounts. “They (the MCI interviewers) were warm and passionate, and it was more of a chat than an interview. I was convinced after that.”
Huijun also experienced a brainwave during the scholarship assessment process when asked to conceptualise a marketing campaign on racial integration on the spot. “My proposal was a poster that would sit in public areas,” she recalls. “From afar, it would look homogenous but if you go closer, it was made up of small images of Singaporeans and foreigners.
“That moment solidified my belief that Fine Arts can be applied to effective communication between the government and the masses,” she says decisively. “From that exercise, I understood the role of Information Officers in MCI better, and this really resonated with me.”
The Depth of Experience
Huijun relates how the open culture at her alma mater has laid the foundations for her current work in MCI. “There were regular sessions when we get to present our work to up to 30 of our peers. There were a lot of feedback and discourse, and a lot of learning came through the conversations. I realised that what you present may not be what is perceived by your audience.”
She elaborates: “You shouldn't focus on how you want to communicate something but rather, you should shift your focus on the audience. That's effective government communication.”
Similarly, Faustina used her journalism background to great effect at MCI. “When you study journalism, you know what the media will focus on and what to look out for,” she cites. “This way, not only do you get access to the media, you will also get your messages across to the general public.”
The Next Generation
Undoubtedly, connecting people to the government through effective public communications is one of the MCI's most important roles. Those looking for a career as an Information Officer should prepare themselves well, and seize opportunities to learn. “An open mind, reading widely, being curious about the world. These attributes are all very essential,” Faustina advises. “You need to be curious about things.”
Huijun also emphasises the importance of being an excellent communicator yourself. “The work that you will encounter will be dynamic, fast-paced and involve interacting with various stakeholders across all segments of society. Thus, it is important to be proactive, empathetic and have a positive attitude,” she says.
“If you are looking for work that is engaging and challenging, this is the scholarship for you!”