Life advice for fresh graduates from art educators
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts educators (from left) Kiat Ng, Sharon Choo, Rei Poh and Dr Nellie Seng offer advice on life after graduation. (Photos: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts)

Life advice for fresh graduates from art educators

Graduating during a pandemic can bring a mix of emotions for students on the cusp of entering the working world. Often, there is relief about crossing a major milestone in life, excitement for what is to come, and fear about thriving in an uncertain future.

We asked arts educators and practitioners from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts to share what they wish they knew as graduating students and first-time jobseekers. Read on for insightful advice by multidisciplinary designer Kiat Ng, designer Sharon Choo, theatre practitioner, director and actor Rei Poh, and musician Dr Nellie Seng.

What did you wish you had known as a graduating student?

Ng: Learning does not end with school.

Choo: The value of industry experience, and how the opportunities gained would help to broaden your views on the reality of the working society and prepare you before stepping into the commercial world.

Seng: The training wheels come off and this is the real test, the final exam, so to speak. Nothing prepares you for the workforce, it is different for everyone, and you must experience it yourself.

What are some tips for a first-time job seeker?

Ng: Keep an open mind and be flexible.

Choo: Every job you take and every experience you gain can play a role in your search for your dream job.

Poh: Understand what the potential employer values. If a company values training and skills, receive training for those skills. If a company values good working relationships, intern with them.

What did you wish you had known as a young professional?

Ng: Soft skills are assets too.

Poh: Especially with the performing arts, your career is based on trying, failing, and rejection. You are not going to land your dream role on your first try. You are going to go for many auditions and interviews, but they should not determine your self-worth.

Seng: Ideals and reality are not one and the same. Business and art are sometimes difficult to align.

What is your advice for someone who did not get the job he or she wanted?

Choo: Nothing worth having comes easy. I have come to realise that one’s career is a process, and not everything will go your way. The true test is to continue moving forward even when the future seems bleak, to not give up, and to do the best you can in your current circumstance.

Poh: No matter how experienced you are, you must still deal with failure. Stay interested in your art and keep honing your skills.

Seng: It is not about which door closes, but rather which door opens, and how you walk the path.

Replies were edited and condensed for clarity.

Explore works by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ graduating class here.

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