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Job Advice:Is it better to start career in Public Service or Private Sector for Tech?

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Old 07-05-2021, 02:21 PM
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Default Job Advice:Is it better to start career in Public Service or Private Sector for Tech?

Hello, I'm a graduating computing student and have received a number of offers spanning a broad range of fields. I've always been open to trying out new kinds of work although I would say my interests/goals are to work mainly in the IT sector towards the management route as opposed to the technical specialist route. Never been good at coding and problem-solving in code so I doubt that I will succeed and do well in the specialist route, but I still think the IT sector is interesting and see myself in roles like product /project management or the likes. Besides IT, I'm also interested in strategy and innovation! Therefore, I'm interested in being at the forefront of the intersections of business and IT.

Since business and IT intersections are honestly quite broad as a field, I applied to many different roles that spanned many industries. Am super fortunate that I managed to get multiple offers back, but I am now unsure which is best for me to start my career in. Here's some of the offers I shortlisted:

1. Public service in a graduate program at a stat board:
It's a rotational programme in the initial years, and then I will be placed in a team permanently. The kind of work I may get to do can be research, planning to perhaps something a little more technical. I'm not sure exactly what I will get to do or learn since it's a rotational programme and I'm not sure where I will get placed. But I thought it will be cool to learn how this stat board is helping business and Singapore towards a digital future which is why I applied. But I'm highly worried about whether I will like the work here since it can vary across the teams, and also where I will go next if I don't like the organisation at the end of the day.

2. Public service in a IT role at a stat board:
This sounds like I can learn alot since I will be joining to learn about how IT structures work in a large corporate group! There's international exposure as well However, I'm not sure how the exit opportunities are like if I decide to quit the stat board and go somewhere else.

3. Tech Consultancy in a MNC firm
I guess this is basically helping clients of the firm design solutions. There's a little coding involved to troubleshoot things for clients, but otherwise it is a role that I guess involves lots of research, presentations, and writing. As with most MNCs, it's likely to have a more diverse and international culture than the stat boards and consequently benefits that are more international. What I'm worried about is that the area of work may be too specialised for me to enjoy.

4. Tech consultancy in a big4 kind of firm
Well this speaks for itself and I guess the benefits are the broad range of projects that I could potentially work on and strong growth and learning culture with likely great colleagues. The only caveat is probably the pay being much lower than the rest.

As a fresh grad,I personally prioritize mainly career progression and growth opportunities. As long as the salaries are reasonable and not below my bottom line, I am otherwise blind to the differences unless it's huge. Part of me is worried that if I miss out on joining the stat boards/public service now, it will be difficult to get back in and they may blackmark me? Another part of me is also worried that it will be difficult to get into the private sector tech firms once I join the public service from the get-go.

Any advice and thoughts on my situation will be greatly appreciated!

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Old 07-05-2021, 02:33 PM
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Haha in the same position bro alot of my friends say go public sector only if you want to collect money without working hard. Otherwise obviously private sector lol

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Old 07-05-2021, 03:12 PM
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for tech youíll want international exposure. go with the big4. unless youíre on PSC tier scholarship, else donít bother with PS.

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Old 07-05-2021, 03:21 PM
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In the past its private cause Accenture ncs etc offered more. Don't have a public sector tech tech.

So sometimes later government wanted smart nation so they form govtech.
That's when govtech offered higher pay to attract back the talent. From private. From NCS. From Accenture. From Google. From silicon Valley etc.

But they also attract alot of those scholars.

So now got public sector with higher paid and scholarly and better office. So ofc choose public.
But also heard its very demanding now.

Remember covid-19, trace together. Those websites all they have to do during CNY weekend etc. Private sector not that rush and usually company will just $ to delay project. But govtech you can't. Cause gahmen say must do. Means must do...

So end up if you don't have the skills. And fake. You will suffer in govtech compared to private..
And since govtech now getting more and more "branded".

More and more scholars are going for govtech.
So you end up with a tech sector where everyone want to the leader. Everyone is 1st class honors. So the most loudest and charismatic 1st class honours become the lead.


So yep. If you are 1st class honours etc. Go govtech lo. Govtech hire alot of 1st class honours.
If you're not 1st class and you're at govtech abit embarrassing. Either that or you need master.

But I also heard high pay means you have to work more.

From customer point of view, alot of ministries say govtech charge alot.
For something simple, if they pay ncs its like 10k but govtech charge like 50k.

Why? Cause the govtech man hour so expensive. All the 1st class honours expect higher pay check.
But the quality is comparable to private sector.
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Old 07-05-2021, 04:14 PM
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Go with the big 4 or the tech mnc
forget about joining the public sector
you will be in demand after you get about 10 years experience (even by the public sector)

that being said, if you dont have a solid technical foundation, your growth is limited
vendors will be able to smoke you and soon you will hit your ceiling
i always tell the guys under me, spend about 3-5 years doing solid technical work (programming and software engineering is a must), otherwise you will hit your ceiling as the soft skill stuff, lot of people can do, but not many can do that together with a solid technical grounding which allows you to be a problem solver (and not a problem bringer/reporter)
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Old 07-05-2021, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Go with the big 4 or the tech mnc
forget about joining the public sector
you will be in demand after you get about 10 years experience (even by the public sector)

that being said, if you dont have a solid technical foundation, your growth is limited
vendors will be able to smoke you and soon you will hit your ceiling
i always tell the guys under me, spend about 3-5 years doing solid technical work (programming and software engineering is a must), otherwise you will hit your ceiling as the soft skill stuff, lot of people can do, but not many can do that together with a solid technical grounding which allows you to be a problem solver (and not a problem bringer/reporter)
For problem reporter, i can only pay 3k max. Seriously, why do they need to be there if they can only report.. In US, no chance you will get hired in tech without technical knowledge. But in Singapore, I will call those role as IT not tech. Tech companies normally has high growth, tons of challenging problem to solve, and very much technical driven bottom up.

IT companies is the one like big 4 (pwc, Deloitte etc) working on uninteresting projects like web development. Companies are growing very slow. They call themselves agile, but I have never seen innovative products from them. More like copy cat from what big tech is doing 5 to 10 years ago.
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:18 PM
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There is a general perception that the young should start out in the private sector first to gain more experience. However, I think it really depends on what you want in the long term, which in your case seems to lean towards the private sector.

If your long term goal lies in something like policy work, starting out in public makes sense. You can still learn stuff in public side, just that the things you are learning are different from the private side. For example, the public sector work may be more support roles and it can take a few years before you get to do any decision making or solutioning, while in private you may be tasked to create solutions and produce results from the get go. This is also affected by the stricter hierarchical structures in the public side. What you want to see being created may take forever to be rolled out with all the checks and balances, whereas in the private side, you can perhaps see your results faster.
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Old 09-05-2021, 12:45 PM
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Default Private sector for opportunities

I'd rank your offers this way for career progression and growth opportunities:

1. Tech consultancy MNC <> Big 4. This depends on which MNC and which Big 4.
3. Public service IT stat board.
4. Public service rotational stat board.

I did #4. Didn't write a single line of code for months. Didn't touch a database ever due to red tape. Had to deal with vendor-managed crap codebases and data. My manager, I paraphrase, said it wasn't important to know SQL and databases lol -- because they had never done a production project before with 15-20 YOE. So I left for the private sector and am much happier.

IMO, the opportunities available to a fresh grad here are better than what you've listed - they are less competitive in terms of pay and opportunities than FAANG/unicorn tier or even Shopee/Grab. If you can get into unicorn/consumer facing tech, these generally have the best opportunities for growth. This is my tier list after 2-5 YOE:

1. FAANG + Bytedance
2. Unicorn & BAT - big range here but Shopee, Grab, Lazada
3. 2nd tier ecommerce coy e.g. travel platforms
4. Softbank / big-name VC funded startups
5. IT / SWE role in big bank or MNC
6. Tech consultancy that doesn't touch govt projects -- you will be stuck doing stakeholder management
7. Tech consultancy doing govt projects

I wouldn't even put govt on this list. Experience is not transferable AT ALL for the most part and you generally will find no mentors to learn good practices from which is super important.
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Old 09-05-2021, 12:51 PM
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Default Public sector if you suck at coding and are great at PLP

Of course, this depends on whether you can pass code screens / get interviews at the above. If these are your best opportunities now, then think about what your skills are:

1. Are you dedicated to constant learning and honing skill in coding / system design? If Vue suddenly became THE framework would you pick it up instead of stubbornly clinging to React?
2. How good are your people skills?

If you're not dedicated to #1 and you're great at #2, then your assessment criteria becomes a lot different and I would advise taking the stat board grad program as it's slack, focus on PLP/angkat bola and your cap for $$$ is basically entry level Bytedance pay but the work is a LOT easier esp if you can play politics and bosses LOVE you.
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Old 09-05-2021, 06:45 PM
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not scholar.... jus go private.
unless u jus want a stable job.
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