NUS alumni here with 5 years working experience in 2 high paying jobs in the finance and investment field; evaluated multiple MNCs and high growth start ups in my career, and currently working on my own side hustle.
Finding a dream job is an extremely painful process. It is nerve wrecking and its not a fault of your own, the current recruitment is loob-sided with employees holding all the information but job seekers literally shooting in the dark.
That being said. There are really 3 types of companies that are hiring. They land in different points across the pay and work-life balance spectrum.
#1 The high paying MNC jobs – Note that its only in selected departments within the tech, finance and consulting space (ie not all IT jobs are equal and don’t be fooled by the job ad). Extremely high pay but don’t expect any work hours to be easy. Work here for 3 years can guarantee a very good exit if you choose to, most which can continue matching your pay.
#2 High Growth Startups – There are the well-funded ones with potential to scale, usually backed by government inc or high profile venture capital. Trust me, these companies will pay for talent, they are in industries that will eventually reap high profit margins and hence have to ability to pay for capable people to build the business. Even if they are loss making today, see the valuation that they are raising capital at, they are lying if they say money is an issue. They definitely have the budget to pay you if you are in an important role. If you are offered a job if such companies that offers a low-ball pay, truth is you are just not applying for the right roles and it is not crucial to their growth.
#3 All others – Relatively lower paying jobs, cannot afford to pay you more and limited growth prospect. This is where you find relatively stable working hours.
In terms of choosing your job, #1 and #2 is the way to go. #1 is straightforward but is extremely competitive, I have seen many undergraduates taking a GAP year to eventually get a fighting chance to get into #1
#2 is tricky. Finding the good ones are like a needle in the haystack, if you find one, congratulations and learn from the founders how to dream big. If the entry pay is low make sure you are getting vested in the company via equity to compensate for the lower upfront compensation. Anything else, lets face the reality that you are just not important enough to the company, hence its best for you to move on and look at other options
#3 Here’s the sweet spot. Compensate the slightly lower pay with more spare time, your biggest asset in your 20s. Work on up-skilling, take online MOOC courses, work on side hustles, monetise your hobbies, learn how to invest with tiger broker or robo funds. Treat your job as a day job but make sure you spend enough time on what really matters to you.
Remind yourself that. Once again, your biggest asset is time and make sure you are exchanging value for that.