Since receiving its independence from Great Britain, Singapore has developed a roaring economy. It has become the 14th largest exporter in the world and boasts an open and corruption-free market economy, making it the financial and high-tech hub that it is today. With all the blossoming growth going on, interns in Singapore can expect to get a head start on working in a diverse and colorful community while enjoying the luxuries of staying in a country with easy access to the rest of Asia.
Because Singapore is a fast-paced economy, there are a broad range of opportunities for interns to find industries they are interested in. Interns in Singapore can choose from:
- Banking and Financing: In Southeast Asia, there is no place more suited for financing internships. Financing internships in Singapore are popular because of the many international banks, wealth management firms, and other financial institutions housed in Singapore. Due to its geographic location, 24 hour trading is highly used in Singapore, keeping interns on their feet and constantly learning.
- Electronics: Electronics in Singapore are known for their quality and reliability, making it a key player in manufacturing, Research & Development, and distribution. Interning in Singapore with a focus in electronics promises to be exciting, with company headquarters such as STMicroelectronics, Murata Manufacturing Co., and Venturing Corporation.
- Biomedical Sciences: In Singapore, biomedical sciences are continuing to grow as a work source for many people. Working in Singapore in biomedical sciences can involve research, clinical development, product development, manufacturing and health-care services. Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Pfizer, and Baxter Inc. have set up manufacturing plants in Singapore to take advantage of talented individuals looking for work in Singapore.
- Tourism: Since tourism is a large part of Singapore's economy, those looking to intern in the service sector will find many opportunities. The Singaporean government hopes to make the country a must-see destination. Interns can take up interesting and unique jobs in Singapore in business tourism, medical tourism, retail tourism, and much more.
- Media: Singapore aims to be a "global media city," and is well on its way with an expected 9.6% growth in the media sector within the next three years. The nation now houses offices from BBC, CNBC Asia, Discovery Channel Asia, MTV Asia, Walt Disney, Star Sports, and ESPN. Media in Singapore has been growing and would be a great place for anyone to get started in the international world of media today.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
While it is possible to find internships on your own, it's useful to find an internship placement program that partners with companies throughout Singapore. Most companies, despite industry, will be headed in Singapore City and will offer internships year-round.
Visas for Interning in Singapore:
The Singapore Government offers a Work Holiday Pass (WHP) for undergraduates and graduates ages 17 to 30 to work for up to 6 months. The WHP is available for most institutions in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A full list can be found on the Ministry of Manpower's Website. This will be ideal for those looking for internships in Singapore. The fee is S$120.
Cost of Living in Singapore:
While interning in Singapore, there are a wide variety of living options for interns. Many expats choose to live in condominium style housing due to the large array of amenities such as pools, tennis courts, assured security, and socializing opportunities. These can vary in price based on location and age of building (S$3000 to $S15,000). Other options include private apartments (S$5000 to S$7000) and renting rooms (S$1000 to S$4000). For more information, see Guide Me Singapore.
Work Culture in Singapore:
- Etiquette: It is important to recognize that since 75.2% of Singapore's population is Chinese. This creates a work environment that emphasizes hierarchical relationships. All employers and superiors must be treated with the utmost respect, including not disagreeing or disrespecting them in public. Try not to refer to co-workers by their first names, instead opting for Mr/Mrs/Miss followed by their surname or Sir/Madam/Boss. Also, follow "arrive before boss, leave after boss" practices. There is also a heavy emphasis on group efforts, and individual practices should not be brought up in group settings. 13.6% of the population of Singapore is Muslim. As a result, one should refrain from contact with the opposite sex around and with Muslims and attempt to refrain from consuming non-halal products (pork, alcohol, etc.) in front of Muslim co-workers.
- Language: Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. However, English is regarded as the main language in Singapore and will be used in most formal work settings.
- Networking: There are two main organizations that can help interns in Singapore network for more opportunities. These are the Singapore Entrepreneurs Network (SEN) and BNI Singapore. These organizations can be very helpful for finding work in Singapore.
Work and Labor Laws in Singapore:
Many employers in Singapore will use employee contracts to outline duties, work hours, benefits, and termination. There is no minimum wage in Singapore, but employees are required to be paid in a timely manner. Employees earning less than S$2000 per month may not work more than 8 hours per day or 44 hours per week.