Graduating During an Economic Downturn

Graduating During an Economic Downturn

For the class of 2020, many may have been expecting to clinch exciting job offers upon graduation. But with the unprecedented turn of events, fresh graduates are finding themselves trapped as the world descends into a global recession (and generally, chaos) amidst a worldwide pandemic.

For an indication of just how severe this crisis has been, comparisons can be made against Singapore’s most recent downturn; the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. The nation was able to recover quickly during that period with the timely government schemes and fiscal policies implemented, with the S$20.5 billion Resilience Package announced in January 2009 being a record and amounting to a 6% deficit of our nation’s GDP. In 2020, we had announced a total  of four budgets, amounting to a staggering S$92.9 billion, which constitutes up to 19.2% of Singapore’s GDP, and yet with COVID-19 immobilising us- and in turn, the economy- the slide continues.

Industries are overwhelmed and companies are literally shutting down everyday. Those that are still surviving had all but put hiring or expansion plans into the back burner.

Yet, there are those who remain relatively unscathed by the crisis.

The type of industry or line of work that one chooses to do can play a big part. Fariha, a 20-year-old graduate of Child Psychology and Early Education, was one of the lucky few who secured a job just one month after graduation earlier this year, after only having to apply to four preschools and going through two interviews, and all this within a month of starting her job search.  “There will always be a demand for educators,” says the new kindergarten teacher who was hired with two other candidates.

On the other hand, young men who are about to enter National Service will probably see this as a blessing in disguise, and unlike most graduates or soon-to-be graduates who are attempting to secure a job now, need not worry about kicking off their careers during a recession. With the mandatory two years that they will have to serve, possibly followed by further education, their career plans are not as affected as compared to fresh graduates with the intention of starting their working life immediately. 

“Though the economy will take years to recover, I expect my first foray into the workforce to be a slightly more stable one as compared to that of my peers currently,” says Min Cher, a 20-year-old graduate from Chinese Studies specialising in Business. The Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate is currently even assessing the option of going overseas to work, a choice that most current job-seekers would not even have. 

The reality, though, is that the majority of graduates are just simply not as lucky.

As with most of her peers, Rachel, 24, a graduate of Sociology and Psychology from Singapore Institute of Management, is still currently looking for her first job. She commented on her situation: “I’m worried  that I may be waiting too long, trying to look for that first job, and also other things like if it’ll be permanent or contracted, or if those companies will take a longer than usual time to revert due to reduced manpower or internal matters.”

For those who may be lucky enough to find employment during this period, they also face the challenge of earning well below the usual market average, with the fear that such a handicap would affect their prospects in the long term. These sentiments were also echoed by the Singapore government when Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat mentioned how graduates “could have their skills, employability and incomes permanently affected, even after the world recovers from the pandemic.”

Many however, would not have the luxury of time to wait and may just have to bite the bullet.  Fariha, who is also the eldest child in her family, continues: “Coming from a middle-income family, the pressure to secure a job is high because during a recession, families – especially larger families, face more challenges.  As a recent graduate, I find it important to help my family financially.”

With  nothing but countless failed job applications to show, what then can the class of 2020 now do?

Well, perhaps the class of 2009 and 2010, being the most recent batch of millenials who have walked down a similar path and survived to tell the tale  (unemployment in Singapore hit an all time high of 2.6% during 2008  with  recovery sluggish in the subsequent years), may be the battle-harden sages who are best placed to share their experience on how young graduates can take this fight head on, and come out standing tall despite all the difficulties.

Graduates from the previous global recession would, for instance, know just how hard it is to get a job, let alone that dream job which we all fantasised about (or promised to us by the schools’ brochures)  when we were still studying.

Mark Lim, 29, an ITE graduate in  2009, states that it’s better to do something small than nothing at all. “Whatever the reason you’re finding work now, it’s not the time to be picky,” says Mark, who worked part-time as a gym receptionist after graduation. “Every job can teach you something, even if it does not relate to your course. There are some skills needed regardless of the job, like communication or adaptability.

It is an approach which Latricia Tay, 24, an Environmental and Water Technology graduate, has taken, having recently landed a job as an assistant in a childcare centre with the help of her cousin who is working in the HR department.

At the same time, this shouldn’t mean that graduates should give up hope of landing that ideal job that they have been thinking about. The takeaway should be that while opportunities presented to you  may not seem ideal, if one doesn’t take chances, one simply does not progress at all. To be able to land a job during this challenging time is something to cherish and make full use of.

Yes, it is a fact that this generation of graduates will not be blessed with the ample opportunities which previous batches who stepped into the economy when the waves were relatively calmer were provided with.

If anything, however, it is that the graduates from more than a decade ago have proven that with resilience and fortitude,  this is merely a steeper learning curve. Even as the odds were stacked against them, as they are now for the class of 2019-2020, we can stand in solidarity, and come together in unity as one people from different backgrounds to do our part towards recovery from the crisis.

As observed by William, 36, who graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2009: “The competition is much fiercer now but there are also more resources available. Use technology to your advantage. There are free online courses by renowned universities that can sharpen your existing skills, or pick up new ones. It sounds cheesy, but these can and will help you stand out from the crowd to increase your employability.”.

Indeed, graduation should not be viewed as the end, but the beginning of another phase of education, with lifelong learning being a vital aspect in our rapidly changing economy. Once we stop upgrading ourselves, we immediately put ourselves at a disadvantage.

Written by : Cheong Shu Yin
Edited by :  Ling Wei Ming
Published on : 17/07/2020
Image : Source /

Is this the effect Dementors have?

Is this the effect Dementors have?

We’ve just passed two weeks of staying at home for Circuit Breaker measures.

And it has taken its toll on many people, the young and the old alike.

A general mood of dark despair of varying degrees has taken over – like how I imagine a swarm of dementors looming over our usually bright sunny island of Singapore would be, sucking the joy and hope out of everyone.

Staying at home was at first something we all loved and looked forward to every weekend. What happened then? Why has this period been so rough for almost everyone?

Turns out, Dr. Sheldon Cooper is not the only one who dislikes change. Change of any kind, especially on a national CB magnitude, is not easy. All pop culture reference aside, the constant deluge of news (both real and amplified) about the COVID-19 cases and death rates has an intangibly huge negative impact on all of us.

Throw in the frustration of trying to balance your child’s home-based learning needs with your own work from home tech issues and you’ve got a real pickle on your hands. And you can’t even escape for an hour to have a stress-relief venting with your best friend over a cup of coffee at the nearest cafe.

For some, this intangible sense of anxiety and fear is coupled by real worries of losing their jobs, and being unable to support their families. And many more worried for their friends and loved ones’ safety as they fight at the frontlines to battle COVID-19.

There is also an evolutionary reason why we are more down at this moment. It’s known as the Negativity Bias. Psychologists theorise that humans are more prone to remember or imprint negative events, experiences and news more quickly because we’ve inherited the genes that predispose us to give special attention to those negative aspects of our environments that could be harmful to us. In this way, dwelling on the “bad stuff” is similar to the sensation of pain–it’s our bodies way of keeping us safe. These negative events and experiences also tend to linger longer than positive ones, and this is what is known as the negativity bias.

We are thus more likely to dwell on the alarming news rather than the positive ones during this COVID-19 pandemic. What positive news, you ask? See, there’s that negativity bias at work. In fact, this pandemic has brought out alot of good that is lost amidst the ongoing spike in numbers world-wide. Like how individuals, corporations and governments are all doing their part, and uniting to fight the pandemic, ongoing acts of kindness among strangers, neighbours and friends checking in on each other, volunteers continuing to deliver food to the needy, and world governments coordinating preventive measures with a degree of cooperation that’s not seen before. Israelis and Palestinians are uniting in a joint effort to contain COVID-19.

How about this Instagram page which shows medical staff wearing photos of themselves to make them less scary and intimidating.

It’s been a dark period, and we are looking at more bad news ahead in the upcoming days. And while on some days, it may be next to impossible to find the positive in life, now is the time for us to be kinder to others and also to ourselves, to learn to celebrate small victories and understand that there will be days of back-sliding which is part of the learning and growth process. Perhaps that’s how we can all produce that Patronus charm that can protect us from this dark period ahead.

Written & Edited by : Huang Yushan
Published on : 17/04/2020
Image : Source/Willgard Krause – Pixabay
Source / Robertino Rodriguez – Instagram

Should All Businesses Be Going Virtual?

Should All Businesses Be Going Virtual?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and our local Circuit Breaker (CB) measures, online counterparts of activities such as watching movies and shopping have already become booming industries with well-trodden paths, whereas for others, not so much.

For education-based businesses such as tuition centres, digitalisation appears to be a natural next step as everyone began rushing to put their curriculum online. But for sectors such as travel, arts and events, the options appear limited, though that did not stop people from trying.

Remember when Singapore ordered the shutdown of all entertainment venues on 24th March? “Cloud Clubbing” became a thing where DJs performed live via social media and video-conferencing platforms. Some people were impressed, while others couldn’t hide their sarcasm.

Most recently, event planner Invade also announced that their upcoming Taiwan night market-inspired Shilin Singapore will be launched as an online event featuring livestream performances and food delivery options from vendors. Once more, reception to the news is mixed.

One might simply congratulate these businesses on their digital ventures and ignore the naysayers. Afterall, hadn’t the government been encouraging businesses to innovate and explore technology all along?

Invariably, many concerns and questions will surface due to the speed and rate at which businesses are taking stabs at maintaining profit despite the pandemic — just look at Airbnb’s recent Online Experiences proposal to allow those stuck at home to “travel virtually”. Needless to say, the move would have been more impressive had Airbnb settled the more pressing issue of refunds for existing cancellations beforehand. 

Comments under the official Airbnb announcement of Airbnb Experiences on Facebook filled with complaints about lack of refunds for prior cancellations due to COVID-19

At this stage, we expect to see many more attempts from hard-hit sectors looking to venture onto digital platforms — and we should be cheering them on for trying. But as for whether these attempts are successful hinges on a multitude of factors; the most basic of which is whether the business or group is aware of the immediate issues faced by society in crisis. Although it is important to ensure the business survives, we should also be thinking of how to do it without coming across as insensitive. 

Another issue that has become evident as observed by theatre artist and writer, Nicholas Berger, in an article on the sudden proliferation of artists taking their works online is the awkward justification behind these actions: “It seems desperately important not to let this virus slow our production of art…Quality? I hardly know her. This is a pandemic, we need Quantity!”. As our own local arts groups/performers take turns jumping on bandwagons of collaboration videos and pandemic-themed artworks on social media, it does bring to mind the question of whether these contents were done out of creativity or desperation.

And what about art forms that depend on social interaction such as theatre going live online? Some remain doubtful about whether these can be fully appreciated if conducted through a screen. Just as clubbing, a social event, becoming an online music appreciation session; or the hustle and bustle of a night market becoming an opportunity to eat delivered exotic foods…can a play also become just any other online video? More importantly, should it?

The COVID-19 ride may be short, but the road is long afterall. At the moment, everyone else seems to be struggling with the word “Quality”: what it really means to digitally enhance for long-term rewards instead of for instant boosts that will become forgotten when the crisis is over. Will the next business, product or service please make their bid for virtual territory with grace? When the storm blows over, it’s not the quantity or speed of action that will tide us through but well-planned, sustainable actions that enables us to truly emerge as victors, ready to face the next wave when it comes.

Written by : Ron Ma
Edited by :  Ling Weiming
Published on : 16/04/2020
Image : Source / Jesus Kiteque –

Keep It Cool: Reduce Your Carbon Emissions in 3 Simple Steps

Keep It Cool: How To Reduce Your Carbon Emissions in Simple Steps

So what if the rest of the world is going to make another new record for global carbon emissions? The sky is still blue and we have air-conditioning when it gets too hot… but did you know that air-conditioning is actually causing our own island to heat up exponentially? With the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere trapping more heat, the only way forward seems to be getting hotter and not cooler.

So now we think: carbon tax, solar panels, electric cars… with so many formal measures already in place, what else can we do to keep the heat down and reduce carbon-emissions in the long run?

Go light on the accelerator

Needless to say the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to commute via public transport or even cycle for shorter distances. For those of us who own cars, ensure your vehicle does not contribute negatively to the environment more than it already does by making smarter driving choices – it can be something as simple as holding off the accelerator when driving on a road with traffic lights.

Shower cold

Ok, we get it. Not all of us are going to like showering in cold water no matter how healthy it is. But have you thought about how much energy and excess heat goes wasted in order for you to enjoy a hot shower? For those of you who don’t already mind cold showers to tackle the Singapore heat, good for you! Otherwise, consider striking a balance of lukewarm on average days.

Give your appliances a break

Other than turning off your appliances when they’re not in use, you might want to do some basic research on recommended usage too. For example, a standard air-conditioner should be set to between 25-27 degrees for efficient cooling. At the same time, making sure your windows and doors are well-insulated will play a huge role in ensuring that your rooms cool down faster. Always remember to not make your appliance work harder than it should.

We should all be doing our part in reducing carbon emissions – not for the environment but for ourselves, so that we can not only lower our energy bills but also preserve a healthy environment and community for the people who come after us.

Not all chairs are created equal


Not all chairs are created equal 

A model designated for teachers is made of molded blue plastic, set on casters, with fabric pads. The price: USD82.

Administrators get an executive chair with a high back and armrests. The height and tilt are adjustable. The price: USD185.


Secret Lab’s chairs are inspired by car racing seats 

Seats designed to conform to the human body shape in order to provide advanced lateral support and weight distribution.

Each chair spawns from quality core materials, unparalleled craftsmanship, and state of the art manufacturing processes.

The Price: USD490


The Evolution of Chairs

The average desk chair is made for offices and study rooms. In most cases, gaming isn’t something that brands consider when designing chairs. That’s why it can be frustrating to look for a chair that has everything you need for gaming.

These chair models may cost a little extra, but they are designed specifically for gamers, including the unique kinds of support and adjustment that gamers often need.

In addition, the design is made from the bottom up for casual lounging, including a pedestal base that allows you to tilt and swivel as much as you want – or not at all, depending on your preference. The only catch is that you need to make sure you have enough room for it in your gaming area.


Their Digital Marketing Strategy

One of the gaming chair company “Secret Lab” well-known in digital marketing, They sponsored few famous YouTubers to introduce their product on their social media channel, such as Shawn Lee (212,587 Subscribers), JinnyBoyTV (759,136 Subscribers) , NightOwlCinematic (589,446 Subscribers) , DanKhooProductions (402,266 Subscribers), JianHao Tan (860,163 Subscribers) . It is a huge numbers in total, over million of peoples.

I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.

Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven”t researched this.  Perhaps, more importantly, you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications.

Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing e-marketing and there is likely to be a lack of specific specialist e-marketing skills which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.

Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organisation purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.

Every company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing.

Masculinity Contributes to the High Suicide Rate of Men Today

Masculinity Contributes to the High Suicide Rate of Men Today

According to the figures from the Office for National Statistics, 76% of the 6,109 suicides in the UK are male in 2014 and the ratio of male to female suicide has risen steadily over the past 30 years. This phenomenon is a global case not unique to the UK. In the US, approximately 80% of the people committing suicide each year are men.

This disproportioned figure triggered the interest from many scholars and institutions. Some researches show that the major key motivators driving people to suicide include “a sense of not belonging, of being alone” and “a sense of not contributing, of being a burden.”

Generations of education to men taught them not to cry from a very tender age and are forced to be away from their moms’ warm hugs every time they are desperately in need of love and care. All these dominant notions of masculinity, internalized by men after they grow up let them keep silent and lick their own wounds alone without disclosing or discussing to others when facing adversity. In contrast, the research also shows that “Women are, in general, more prepared to seek help and show their distress. A female attempt is often closer to a cry for help, hoping for a response.” When women express their sadness and stress, they are actually seeking condolence and usually get relief after crying with friends. Close social ties and emotional support are important contributors to healthy mentality.

“Most men today don’t have a life.” That is the first line the psychologist Steve Biddulph wrote Manhood. Men, as husband and father of a group of children, are always deemed as the financial supporter of the whole family. A British dad told the newspaper Telegraph in this way, “As years went by, and more children arrived, I found it harder to switch into home mode in evenings and weekends. Home mode took a while to get used to and by the time I was getting adjusted it was time to go back to work.” Disconnection with family and friends also worsen the situation by making men have nobody to turn to when they face stress.

The society also contributes to the high stress of men by calculating their value of being a human being on the basis of their financial worth. These social norms lead men to think that “being successful is not everything, it’s the only thing” and result in their huge amount of stress. This then can explain why the suicide rate is much higher in men at a lower socioeconomic status than in rich men. Study found that “men in lower socioeconomic groups have less access to jobs that allow for the expression of working-class masculinity, and have thus lost a source of masculine identity and ‘pride.’”

Vibrating Alarm Clocks Help Wake Deaf People Up

fuse-d vibrating alarm

Vibrating Alarm Clocks Help Wake Deaf People Up

There is a whole array of different products out there to help deaf people surface in the morning. We want deaf people to feel confident about going to sleep at night, knowing deaf will be woken up on time. With such choice, finding the right alarm clock for deaf people could be a little overwhelming, so we thought we’d offer deaf people a bit of an insight into what options are available from our Hearing Direct product range.

fuse-d vibrating alarm clocks(Photo:

Important factors will include:

  • An alarm clock with a louder alarmwill wake up a person with minimal hearing loss. When the alarm clock goes off, it is much louder than your average alarm clock, and most people with a small amount of hearing loss are able to hear it.
  • An alarm clock with a strobe lightwill wake up a person with more severe hearing loss. The strobe light is connected to the alarm clock. When the alarm goes off, the strobe light will flash brightly and wake the deaf person up.
  • An alarm clock with a bed vibratorwill also wake up a person with a more severe hearing loss. The vibrator is connected to the alarm clock and is also attached to the bed. When the alarm goes off, the bed will shake and wake up the deaf person.
  • An alarm clock with a pillow vibratorwakes up a severely deaf person as well. The vibrator is connected to the alarm clock and is placed under the deaf person’s pillow. When the alarm goes off, the pillow will shake and wake the deaf person up.


  • Higher vibration level than the mobiles and the o’clocks. It helps to make deaf people wake up while feel vibrations.
  • Good health brain because the vibrating alarm clocks have not radiation.
Vibrating Alarm Clock’s Design

fuse-d vibrating alarm clock design(Photo:

Suggested that we can do design for the vibrating alarm clocks like Hello Kitty, Minion, etc. It makes fun and cute for people ages.

Vibrating Alarm Watches for Assist Deaf People

fuse-d vibrating alarm watches


A vibrating watch for anyone with normal hearing or someone who is deaf or has a hearing loss is a convenient method of being alerted while being unobtrusive. It can be useful when deaf need to be reminded about something.


Vibrating Alarm Wearables for Assist Deaf People

fuse-d vibrating alarm wearables watch(Photo:

Smart watches can link to your mobile phone, allowing you to set up vibrating alerts for everything including phone calls, text or WhatsApp messaging and alarms.

Working till Death

fuse-d working till death

Working till Death

With an increasing percentage of Singapore’s population aging, there is one rising issue that has plagued our media often in the past few years: elderly poverty. Growing ever more visible we often see the elderly cleaning tables at hawker centers and pushing heavy carts of cardboard along the roads. Going out to eat how often have you turned to say “Thank you auntie/uncle” and the one clearing your table for you is a person of your grandparent’s age?

Much noise has been made in the media about the elderly having to do such back breaking jobs, that often earn them just the bare minimum to survive, but those are just the ones we see. There are elderly that don’t even have a stable income to take home and every dollar they get is only able to survive them on a day to day basis.

The government has created various schemes aimed to help these elderly such as Silver Support and many others. There is no lack of new schemes for them but too many are highly targeted with very specific criteria to fulfill. An example of this is the requirement of not having children to support them, but what about those are estranged with their children and not in touch with them. They still lack any support from family and yet may face issues applying for these schemes due to the system showing records of their children. An old woman that works only part-time be it due to ill-health or having to take care of a bedridden relative, would still not qualify for the workfare supplement scheme because of her shorter work hours. It is often the ones most at risk that fall through the cracks.

It is not just those that are not on good ties with their family but the many others who don’t have a family. With a growing number of youths indicating a lack of interest in getting married in a recent survey by National Youth Council, it’s not a far jump to imagine we will have a higher percentage of elderly without family support in the future.  It is estimated that by 2030, just slightly over a decade from now, there will be only 2.1 working-age citizens for each one aged 65 and above, compared to around 5.4 currently. What are we to do when many grow old and have no family left to support them in their old age?

Even those that have a family and a comfortable nest egg stowed away have to be weary. Should a serious illness like cancer strike, not only might you lose your family, but your savings and Medisave could be wiped out too. So this leaves everyone with at least some risk of elderly poverty in the possible future, and with many gaps in our system, how safe does that make you feel?

These people are making buying decisions for you

fuse-d buying decision social media influencer

These people are making buying decisions for you

Your birthday is coming soon and you’re trying to buy something as a gift for yourself, you want the best option possible, you want to make sure it’s worth every penny. You’ll Google it, and you’ll get pictures and reviews of it, for some, there will even be video product review on Youtube. Be it a bag, shoes, a laptop, or even a gadget.

You’ll end up getting something that is “most raved about on the internet”, “popular among Youtubers”, or something that has “a lot of good reviews”. That is how powerful social media is, as most of us rely on social media to help us make purchase decision, the influencers on social media definitely hold a place in affecting those decisions.

While trust in brands is declining, the power of influencers is certainly making its way up. When you engage social media influencers, you can almost always expect an increase in traffic and social media interaction. This is because when an influencer promotes your brand, it amplifies the message and your brand, and your audience will feel that there’s more credibility to your message.

And when you are working with influencers, establishing a contract will help in ensuring the partnership is fair, especially when you’ve recruited them to create original content on your behalf. Your brand will feel secure knowing that the influencer will deliver what is on promised.

Before the content is published, you should request to review the content, this allows you to have greater control over the influencer’s portrayal of your brand, and also makes sure that you and your influencer are on the same page in positioning the brand.

There’s no doubt that partnering with an influencers also means acquiring customer through word of mouth, which indicates higher customer retention. However, take note that you will have to do some research before you decide to partner with any influencers, take a look at what brand partnerships they’ve done in the past, if they’ve partnered with many brands, your brand might get lost in the mix. While working with influencers, the compensation can come in many forms, sure it can be cash, but it could also be a gift of a product, promotions of their platforms by your brand, or even exclusive access to an event.

When influencers wants to know what’s in for them, come up with a compensation that everyone is happy with, help them gain insights and content for their audience, and build their brand while you build yours, and you’ll have a strong influencer partnership that can let both parties get desired results.

If you like tattoos, love animals and feel aimless on your career path, you might be able to draw lessons from Jen.

fuse-d tattoo singapore

If you like tattoos, love animals and feel aimless on your career path

I had a great opportunity to speak with a  talented tattoo artist whose studio located on Haji Lane. Jen, shares with me her struggling journey  to achieving a fulfilled career.

When Jen was young, her family  adopted PopStar from SPCA, this little kitten ignited Jen’s love for animals, and was a part in shaping many decisions in Jen’s life, including the choice to take up Veterinary course during her tertiary studies.

She describe the course was tough, if one can relate to the study of human as complicated, what’s more on the study of animals, since there are more breed and species of animal compared to humans.

Like many, the day she graduated, she was immensely excited about the days ahead of her, fulfilling her life to work with animals everyday. Little did she know, that this dream wasn’t about to come through.

Jen resigned, within a year of practising as a veterinarian technician. She was clear, clearer than ever that she still love animals, still wants to play with them, every day, but she couldn’t take seeing everything at the vet. No doubts, she has helped many animals recover from their symptoms and regain liveliness. She also enjoyed exchanging views with pet lovers, sharing cute photos of each others pets, some customers even became friends whom she would meet during off days.

But on the flip side, day to day, she meets with animals who are sick, she sees pet owners negligences and ill treating their pets. Such accumulated pain at work led her to reconsider her choice of career. Her decision became concrete when this Kiki step into her centre for the second time.

Kiki, is a 6 years old Shih Tzu, the moment the owner stepped in,, she robbed all positive vibe off the clinic, with over powering pungent smell from Kiki’s badly infected ear. All attention was immediately diverted to Kiki, which appears tired, thin, haggard, and her brown untidy fur only says that she haven’t been groomed since a thousand year ago.

Such patient was uncommon, Kiki, has to be put on general anesthesia to remove an eye, and clearing maggots of it’s rotting ear. Jen says such infection is is a results of prolong neglected ear infection.

She composed herself together and professionally advised the nonchalant owner, to regularly monitor  Kiki’s condition as the fresh wound from the eye removal will put Kiki vulnerable to new infections. True enough, within the month, Jen’s night mare happened, Kiki came back, and the infection had spread to the other eye, Jen was devastated, there were two solutions offered, to remove the remaining eye, or put Kiki down for good. Owner chose the easy way out.

That very day, when Jen got home, an emotion thunderstorm rain on her, she skipped meals and close herself up in her room, leaving Popstar wining profusely at the door. Her experience with Kiki was the last straw of her daily accumulated pain, she broke down and started to resent animals. What seems to be her entire life took a turn, her many years of effort preparing and working to be a good vet daunted on her. She felt bitter about going to  work, suffering from night mares of Kiki, and sleep deprivation. Finally she decided to end her misery, resigning as a veterinarian technician, from her love towards animals, from her goals which once drove her life.

I cannot imagine the reality that Jen was goingg through, nothing like this ever happened to me, but when i sit down quietly to put myself in her shoes, relating to my love for animals, and think about the effort she put in to complete her studies, I felt it, i felt her pain. It reminded me of my broken relationship, when someone whom i was deeply in love with had to migrate to a Australia. Though we were young, but the heart break felt so real when her family interveened and forcefully ended our relationship., we didn’t had much options but to conformed. It was a disaster for me for me, I was lost then, as lost as Jen.

Jen was lost, totally lost, emotionally strucked and physically heavy. She lays around at home and reluctantly drag her heavy heart where ever she went.

She recalls, she was very grateful for her entire family, supporting and giving her the encouragement to stand up again. They cheered her up and reminded her of her second passion, Arts. During her school days, Jen loves to draw, when ever she gets a chance, she will draw, like those that can be seen on her textbooks in primary school, graph papers during maths class and was also pointed out by her form teacher that there were drawings of cats on her mid year exam papers in secondary school.

Unlike many local parents who can be heard telling their children to get a job and work hard, Jen’s parents placed more emphasis on happiness and well-being. Understanding her love for arts, they encouraged her to start all over and begin her journey with Lasalle College of the Arts.

Jen was very thankful that her family picked her up, and was excited to begin her new life as a student in Lasalle. She arranged her unhappy emotions at the back of her head and started a fresh.

She made new friends in the fields of arts and quickly became a promising student in class, Jen picked up the techniques of drawing rapidly, she especially enjoyed drawing with pencils, colouring them and bringing her ideas to live. Jen found her footing in arts, she knew this was where she wanted to excel in, Drawing became bread and butter for her, seeing her imagination  coming to life gave her the drive to pursuit further.

Nine months through, she dropped out, she decided to stop as a student with Lasalle. In school she was led to belief that she can’t draw what she wanted, she has to draw things that are socially acceptable. This stood in her way to transform her imagination to live, and it turned her off. Defying her family’s encouragement to carry on for a few more months, she decided to drop out, she wanted to follow where her heart will lead her, she learnt that in the past, she had chose a path which was socially acceptable, a path that could secure her a good income, but proven to be emotionally draining for her, even facing a catastrophe in her life. She decided to challenge societal norms and to follow her heart closely, believing that in the end it would all make sense, even when it seems cloudy and uncertain right now.

She left school, and took a break from thinking about career, indulging in arcade console games like Street Fighter. As her other school mates excel with career progression, forming families, and travelling to different parts of the world. She felt even stressed and lost. She was broken once, and being lost again just demoralised her totally. She felt that she let her family down and didn’t have the cheek to face them, her words at home became lesser and lesser and found herself deliberately staying away from deep conversation with family members.

Jen spent more than 8 hours a day there, she explained that she  found life back in the game’s characters. Being able to control the characters and easily giving them their life back when they meet a stronger opponent appealed a lot to her. In this months of bumming around, Street Fighter gaming was her full time role. She made new friends and learnt to have an open heart to wards life. She still fails to see what was in front of her, and was uncertain who she will become. The only comfort she found in herself was that she firmly belief that she will be doing something she love, and only that as a career. She hanged out more with new friend she met at the arcade, one of whom was Joey.

Joey is a tattoo artist, he brought her to Joseph who is a veteran in the tattoo line, this was when she sees a world of possibility in front of her. She knew for sure as a tattoo artist she can draw anything she like, with no boundaries, and freedom to express her imagination. Seeing her passion in drawing and her techniques, Joseph took her in as an apprentice, giving her space in Visual Orgasm Studio to learn from an expert. Jen jumpped on the space wagon. She once heard this saying, if the objective is getting to space, no matter which seat on the space wagon is secondary. Jen knows this is an opportunity to a career of her passion, she made the decision to be a passionate tattoo artist, one who is honoured by her clients.

“My life as a tattoo apprentice is a roller coaster ride, typically i spend 6 to 8 hours a day tracing and drawing, tracing and drawing and more of it. I do anything from serving tea, sweeping mopping the studio to toilet washing. It was my job, i own them. I took it so personal, i realise I was excited when the super market had a sale on anti bacteria toilet wipes. I was also responsible to setup work station and cleaning up for every tattoo session. Soon enough i was confident to tattoo on skin, my own of course. I ever heard National Service friends complaining about how they have to inject themselves during training as a medic. I joked that I am not an NS man but i experience 100 times more. The learning process of going from paper to skin was a steep one for me, the nervousness and anxiety of laying the needle down for the very first time under the white table lamp was deep imprinted in me. I told myself, no matter how hard this will be, I will do whatever it takes.

After 13 months of practise and getting used to burnt weekends, I was finally deemed fit by Joseph to start tattooing for customers. A piece which marks a break through, a full back Chinese calligraphy shading of a mountainous river bank with a floating boat. It started at a small piece at the waist of this client, after completion, he continued to come back with request to extend that piece, until it fills up his entire back. It wasn’t merely a piece of full back Chinese Calligraphy, it was a piece of encouragement, a confident booster, It was an achievement.

One of my client turned friend is artist Julie Tan, she likes the style of art which i developed over the years. Hand drawn illustrations, a combination of feminine lines, dots shades and colour. I allowed my love for animals to flow back through me and falling in love with drawing of animals, happy, healthy and playful ones.”

I found out that Jen has an interesting way of running her tattoo business, she regularly schedule time for drawing, allowing her imagination to be born. This completed designs will be coloured and uploaded to Instagram for adoption. This is good news for people who intend to get a tattoo, but had no clue on what design they should get. Also it does ensure that this design is for sure to be unique. Jen feels that taking design from the internet is meaningless, because that design is a personal story, something which represents a meaning to someone, and if it can be found online, chances are, it will be duplicated, and that is not what client wants.

I was honoured to be invited by Jen to sit in with her on one of her tattoo sessions. A design which was adopted by Cayen, a trainer of medical equipments, who fell in love with a Terrarium Kity design which Jen uploaded. Jen says that this design represents a playful kitten playing in a terrarium. Such playful and active drawings helps her to divert her energy from the dark side of her love for animals during her days at the veterinary clinic.

Cayen adopted this design because she knew, in reality, a terrarium is hard to maintain, and only in her imagination can cats play in terrarium as they desire. She can’t make that happen in reality, but in tattoo it was possible.

In closing, I am grateful that Jen gave me an opportunity to be in a tattoo session without going through the pain of the needles, on top of that having a chance to share her life journey. I felt that in a society like Singapore, there are very few who are this  fortunate to be able to combine both loves. Jen achieved it, she defy against societal norms, to follow her heart to pursuit what she likes to do.

Analysing deeper, it wasn’t an easy task to say simply follow my heart, it takes courage, believing strongly in a idea and having strong faith that one will not settle for less. On top of that a firm decision to go through hardship of being an apprentice, doing things like washing the toilet or serving tea.

I especially like that Jen sets aside time for drawing, she continues to hound her skills in drawing techniques, and expressing her imagination and combining her love for both animals and arts. I am glad that someone like Jen pulled through to stay inline with what she love, her story is an inspiration to me. If you like to see Jen’s work or if her story inspired you in anyway feel free to give a shout out to her through her Instagram(add link).

Studio details
Visual Orgasm Tattoo n Piercing
2 Haji Lane
Singapore 189195