SME Talent Programme (student feature Charmaine)

A Match Made in Career Heaven

Charmaine Liew never thought she would work for a startup but an internship opportunity via SME Talent Programme for Startups changed her long-standing aspiration of joining a multinational company.

Throughout her undergraduate years at the Singapore Management University, Charmaine Liew imagined that she would come to work for a large multinational corporation. But an internship opportunity with a startup changed everything.

“You could say I had a conformist mindset. I was fixated on joining a big company for the job stability, structured learning programmes and clear career progression,” she revealed. And she is probably not alone.

Singapore has been ranked as the second most talent-competitive country in the world, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index published by INSEAD, the Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore in January 2017.

But the large pool of skilled knowledge workers here is matched by a growing number of local, regional and global companies eager to attract and retain the brightest minds. To give startups a leg up in this war for talent, the Action Community of Entrepreneurship (ACE) has partnered with SPRING Singapore to administer the SME Talent Programme (STP) for Startups. Through the scheme, eligible startups can enjoy a 70% subsidy on their intern’s stipend while students benefit from the opportunity to learn and work in a startup.

It was through STP that Charmaine was introduced to SWAT, a locally-developed on-demand ride-sharing app by three-year-old startup Ministry of Movement.

Thinking back on her six-month internship during her final year of university, she said: “I realised that startups offer the unique opportunity to experience many aspects of the business. I was surrounded by dreamers and innovators with visions and ideas every day. It was inspiring to watch them bounce ideas back and forth, take feedback, refine the idea and turn it into a business opportunity. And the best part was that, being part of a small team means that even interns are fully involved in this process.”

As a Business Management degree holder with a double major in Marketing and Organisational Behaviour & Human Resources, Charmaine aspires to become an expert in the field of digital marketing and product development. At SWAT, she is given the freedom to “curate” her own job role to focus on online and offline marketing, user engagement, product development and recruitment.

Having interned at multinational companies before, Charmaine found this level of empowerment and direct involvement to be very refreshing.

“In a corporate environment, I found it harder to envision and measure how my work would make an impact to the organisation, especially as a fresh graduate. At SWAT, I saw myself taking on much greater ownership and accountability in my tasks, even as an intern.”

After her internship ended in May 2017, Charmaine accepted a full-time role as Marketing and Operations Analyst with SWAT, continuing the work that she enjoys doing.

“At SWAT, each individual is contributing their best efforts to collectively build something great. This leads to fantastic personal growth, and I see myself thriving in such an environment,” she explained.

“Working for a startup is not a glamorous affair. You have no idea what will happen tomorrow but I believe that with risks come with rewards. If you’re considering working for a startup, I recommend that you do your research first. It is essential that you truly believe in what the business is trying to achieve and be ready to put in hard work. If you find yourself aligned with their values, mission and culture, take the leap! You won’t regret it.”

Learn more about the SME Talent Programme (STP) for Startups and sign up here today! Students and startups are both welcome to apply. Eligible startups can look forward to a 70% subsidy on their intern’s stipend to help offset talent costs.

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