An interview with a schizophrenic, jobless, PhD graduate

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First of all, thanks for allowing us to interview you online Amanda and can you provide us with some background information about yourself?

Hi, I am Amanda and I graduated from NUS with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2004. I worked for close to three years, then did my PhD in NTU. I completed my PhD in 2011.

After that, I worked as a engineer for a company that paid for my PhD scholarship – I was under bond. I suffered from a mental breakdown because of work related stress in late 2013 – that was before I completed my bond. The diagnosis was schizophrenia and I was hospitalized for six weeks in IMH. After I was discharged from IMH, I resigned from my job.

My company was kind and decided to waive my bond on compassionate grounds. For the two years following that, I was hopping from job to job, never seeming to hold down a proper job.

What was  your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for a few months, can you tell us more about this and  also  your job search experience?

My last long term job was an editor with a publishing company. I lasted for eight months in the job. I left the job in January this year, again because of work related stress. So far I have been applying to jobs of different nature. I had been shortlisted for several interviews. I went to roughly five interviews and turned down some interviews.

You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than six months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?

To set the record straight, I have been jobless for close to 5 months currently. I am living on my savings. I am fortunate because my last job paid quite well and I had the discipline to save up while I had the job. I did not approach CDC; I approached WDA for career coaching.

Did you attend any interviews during the past few  months and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?

Yes, I did attend some interviews. I guess the reasons for being unsuccessful differ for each interview. For some, I simply was not a good fit for the job.

Tell us a bit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.

My family has been supportive, especially my sisters. I have learnt that it is always wise to save up for a rainy day. Also, being able to bounce up from depression is really important.

What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?

Go for workshops to learn practical skills such as for writing resumes and handling interviews.

Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?

No. There are people succeeding everywhere in Singapore.

What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?

The government is already doing a good job. But I think there can be more career fairs for PMETs – many career fairs are for rank-and-file jobs currently. It would also be good to have a greater choice of careers for WDA’s Train and Place programs. There is also a need to have more workshops for empowering the mindsets of people who are unemployed, not just workshops on the practical skills such as resume writing or interviews. It is often the case that the mindset is the biggest obstacle for one to get employed.

Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?

Take responsibility for your life and do not play the blame game.

Lastly, whats your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down

Go for workshops and seminars that empower your mindset. Read motivational books. I am currently reading Jack Canfield’s “The Success Principles”. It is a good book that is available in our National Library. Good luck.


Republished from Transitioning.