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Jobs 101: Polytechnic lecturer


What is it like to be able to educate others?

Who: Clarice Sim, 30

Occupation: Polytechnic lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic

Studied: Communication Studies at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)


Tell us more about yourself.

I am a lecturer in Singapore Polytechnic and I teach research and psychology.


How and why did you become a lecturer?

I did a short teaching stint when I was taking my master's degree at NTU. It was a very good experience for me, so when I was exploring different career options, I thought about teaching seriously to see how it would work out. Apparently, it has worked out well and has helped me discover my passion in teaching.


Describe a typical day at work.

A typical day at work would be preparing for class and going to class. I also meet students out of class for project consultations, and sometimes for personal issues that they face. Occasionally, I have meetings with parents to discuss the students' progress. Other than that, I will be marking students' work and settling administrative affairs.


What is your most memorable experience?

Being a personal tutor allows me to see my students in an intimate way and I get to hang out with them. That experience is always memorable. Another would be the Mass Media Research conference, where we work crazy hours to prepare the students so that they would be ready to face the media. I get a sense of accomplishment by seeing my students grow, from starting out a little rough around the edges to becoming more polished, articulate and confident in front of the media.


What difficulties do you face?

I think that dealing with students who have complex family situations can be quite challenging. We do not get many of them but when we do, it is tricky to think of a solution and help them out of these situations. It will have to take a lot of liaising with different community partners as well as the school counselor, while keeping tabs on the student's performance in school. I believe that it is important for a lecturer to keep a warm and supportive environment so that students are comfortable to confide in you regarding such problems.


How long have you been doing this and how has the industry changed?

I taught for a year in NTU in my master's programme, and have been teaching in Singapore Polytechnic for three years. Honestly, the number of years that I have spent teaching is too little to tell how the industry has changed. However, I can tell you how teaching undergrads while in NTU and teaching polytechnic students are different. Polytechnic students are a lot more enthusiastic, fun-loving and are more experiential learners.


What motivates you in your work?

It definitely has to be seeing students grow and develop. It is when I see how students come in bright and fresh-eyed in year one and then seeing them go through year two where they get a little bit more jaded and more cynical about life. Finally, seeing them blossom after they complete their internship and even coming back to visit after graduating. The whole process is very fulfilling. Of course, I am passionate in teaching as well.


Do you have any advice for youths considering this job?

Try it out. There are loads of opportunities for graduates to try teaching part-time and figure out whether they really want to teach. You also need to enjoy educating people and enjoy working with young people.


Educational requirements: At least a bachelor's degree. For degree holders, you will need at least three years of experience in the related industry for the diploma you are interested in teaching.

Qualities: Patience, empathy, enthusiasm, optimism

Working hours: Mondays to Fridays  8am to 6.30pm

Salary range: Starts from $3,000.