Miss Joy Sng [Bsc (Hons) 2019] is a medical physicist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore. She shares her insights concerning career options.
I am currently working as a medical physicist in the Division of Radiation Oncology in NCCS. We specialise in cancer treatment using high doses of radiation. My role is to ensure accurate dose delivery to the cancer patients and general radiation safety in the department. This entails treatment planning, quality assurance of treatment plans, calibration of the treatment machines and commissioning of new radiotherapy equipment.
It is common to hear, “you don’t need such advanced theoretical physics knowledge to apply them in real-world situations”. While there is some truth in it, I feel that learning these physics theories has made me appreciate their applications in radiotherapy better. For instances, I am able to have a better grasp on the properties of the clinical beams, and the methods we use for dose measurements, computation of patient dose, analysis of quality assurance results, etc. I guess my physics education has also trained me to be more analytical and number sensitive which are advantageous in my job.
Personally, I have considered having a career in the education or management field if medical physics did not work out. I have friends from NUS physics who have gotten into various sectors such as public service, education, engineering, semiconductor, academia, finance and technology. I guess we do not have to restrict ourselves to jobs that have direct link to physics because ultimately, it is the problem-solving and logical thinking skills that we have cultivated from our physics education which will aid us in our jobs.
In my opinion, computing skills will be a huge advantage as they are highly demanded across many industries. It is also important to gain hands-on skills and hence, it will be good to have some internship experience.
Don’t be afraid to approach your professors or other faculty members for advice beyond school work! They are usually very friendly and willing to guide students in preparation for life after graduation with their many years of experience. I had personal experience with some of them when I was feeling lost about my plans after graduation and I have gained useful insights which I am grateful for till today.
Mr Lu Shu Kai (Bsc 2018) just completed his Master’s Degree in Finance with Grenoble Ecole de Management. He shares his views on further studies and practical tips on job hunting.
For myself, taking a postgraduate degree allows me to take in cross-disciplinary knowledge and inspires me to look at the world through a wider lens. I would encourage undergraduates to study as widely as possible and network with different people to open more doors for themselves.
The selection criteria are typically the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), recommendations, prior experience, undergraduate school prestige and academic records.
The management school I enrolled in has a unique focus on the management of technology and innovation. There is less theory compared to applications. Students are trained to be familiar with the Bloomberg API, excel modelling techniques and using visual basic applications for automation via algorithms. The knowledge gained here will be useful for working in some operational banking environment. One should always do research on the different banking systems if one is to consider working in a finance-related setting.
I enjoyed Grenoble which is where my management school is located. It is a rather quiet and scenic city, a place good for hiking. I thought the course was very practical and the school took a more professional route rather than an academic one. I like to add that studying hard and obtaining good results actually set one up to be confident when applying for jobs. Reading more about your potential career definitely helps too!
As physics is mentally challenging and requires a great deal of concentration, I am a lot more resilient to intellectual challenges and new concepts. This makes grasping new ideas a comfortable experience for myself and I believe all undergraduates if they choose to pursue the postgraduate path.
My advice is for them to apply for jobs early. Start say by the end of Semester 1 in the last academic year. Try to network with professionals because a lot of the jobs out there are not advertised online but rather sourced for by word of mouth. Be resilient and keep improving yourself. Success may not be high for the first few interviews but keep sending out your resumes. In the meantime, improve your skills—get a professional certification, learn new coding languages, take up communication or presentation courses.