Internships in Singapore

Internships in Singapore
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Updated 2022-06-01 11:16

Singapore is home to many universities of international repute, as well as companies from a diverse range of sectors. This combination results in an interesting offering of internship opportunities. Additionally, schemes also exist for semi-skilled foreign trainees, as well as youngsters interested in work holidays.

Many international corporations have structured internship programs that allow participants to be based in Singapore. On top of these programs, websites such as INTERNSG provide listings of internship offers in areas ranging from graphic design to teaching.

In order to carry out an internship in Singapore, participants will need to apply for a work permit. International students in Singapore are allowed to work, provided they hold a student pass for an approved list of institutions managed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Foreign exchange students who are on exchange in Singapore aren't allowed to work using their student passes. For all others, there are three options available: the Training Employment Pass, the Work Holiday Programme, and the Training Work Permit. Eligibility guidelines are set by the MOM and can be consulted on their website.

Training Employment Pass

The Training Employment Pass is aimed at international students or trainees who'd like to undergo training in Singapore. The training program in Singapore should be part of the course of study undertaken by the applicant, and the latter should be from a list of “acceptable” institutions, or they must earn a salary of at least S$3,000 per month. If you're a trainee and not a student, then you need to have a salary of at least S$3,000 per month and be sponsored by an established Singaporean-registered company.

To apply, you need to provide your passport, as well as details of the training program you're doing and your degree. If you haven't completed it yet, then you'll need to get a letter from your university to confirm that you are indeed studying with them.

It'll cost your employer S$105 to apply for your Training Employment Pass and S$225 for it to get issued. In most cases, it'll take around three weeks for you to get your pass.

The pass is valid for a period of up to three months and can't be renewed. The application is lodged by the prospective employer and there are no quotas for the number of passes that can be issued. Unfortunately, you can't bring your family members over on this work pass; you must come alone.

Do note that if you've had a Training Employment Pass before, you aren't eligible for another for the same type of training.

Useful link:

Ministry of Manpower's Training Employment Pass

Work Holiday Programme

The Work Holiday Programme Pass is valid for a period of up to six months and is aimed at students aged 18 to 25. Applicants need to be undergraduates or graduates of recognized universities in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK, or the US. Do note that you must attend a university that's recognized by the governments in these countries and regions.

If you're an undergraduate, then you need to be a resident and full-time student of the university for at least three months before you apply for the Work Holiday Programme. On the other hand, if you're a graduate, then you just had to have been a resident and a full-time student of the university before applying.

You can apply for the Work Holiday Programme yourself. It'll cost you S$175 for the pass to be issued to you. It'll take around three weeks for you to get it.

There are no restrictions to specific types of work, but conventional registration is required for international students practicing disciplines such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, architecture, or law. The pass cannot be renewed and doesn't allow family members to accompany the pass holder. One drawback of the program is that it's limited to a maximum of 2,000 people at any point in time, so it may be difficult to get a place in this program.

If you've had a Work Holiday Pass before, you can only apply for a new one after a 12-month period's passed since your last pass. Also, if you're trying to plan ahead and want to apply for the program early, you need to make sure it's not more than three months from when you intend to travel to Singapore.

If you're rejected for a Work Holiday Pass, the good news is that you can appeal it. You have three months to do so, and you must address the reasons for rejection. Otherwise, you'll need to submit a new application. Appeals will take at least four weeks to process, so you'll have to be patient in waiting for an answer.

Useful link:

Ministry of Manpower's Work Holiday Programme

Training Work Permit

The Training Work Permit is for unskilled or semi-skilled foreigners wishing to carry out training in Singapore for a maximum period of six months, as well as international students studying in educational institutions in Singapore, as long as the training constitutes part of their educational course. Applications are made by employers and cover semi-skilled or unskilled employees and students from related overseas companies and universities.

These documents are needed for your application for a Training Work Permit if you're a foreign trainee:

  • Passport
  • Letter from the employer outlining the training purpose and duration, the training plan, the relationship between the companies, etc.
  • Employment contract

These documents are needed for your application if you're an international student:

  • Passport
  • Student pass
  • Letter from employer outlining training purpose and duration
  • Letter from the university outlining your field of study, course duration, expected graduation date, required training period, etc.

Do note that many of the above documents can be copies, so long as they're official ones.

The application will cost S$35 for the application and another S$35 for the issuance. While the interim approval can take just one working day, it'll take up to three weeks for you to receive the final outcome.

Quotas are in place for the different sectors covered by the permit. There are specific insurance requirements, and family members aren't allowed to accompany permit holders. Employers must pay a basic tier, higher-skilled monthly foreign worker levy and get a security bond for every non-Malaysian Training Work Permit holder.

If you're an international student, you can only get a Training Work Permit once. Otherwise, if you're a foreign employee, there must be a six-month period between your last Training Work Permit and the new one, whether it expired or was canceled.

Useful link:

Ministry of Manpower's Training Work Permit

Finding an internship in Singapore

In addition to websites that advertise internship opportunities, interested students shouldn't hesitate to contact the HR representatives of the companies they're interested in. Very often, established companies will offer structured internship programs, whereas smaller entities or start-ups will be willing to craft internship programs based on the qualities and academic background of the applicants.

Singapore is a booming economy in one of the fastest-growing regions of the world, and an internship there will definitely boost your prospects in the future.

Labor laws in Singapore

Like in many other countries, internships can be either paid or unpaid, with many being in the latter category. In that case, you'll often be compensated with academic credits.

Otherwise, if you're lucky enough to get a paid position, you should be aware that there's no minimum wage in Singapore, so you might end up with a much lower wage than you're used to. The exceptions for minimum wage are cleaners and security jobs, but this won't apply to you as an intern.

Most interns can expect to be paid between S$600 and S$2,000 a month. The reason why S$2,000 is usually the maximum is that labor laws say if you're earning under that amount, you can't work over eight hours a day (or a total of 44 hours per week).

Cost of living in Singapore

Regardless of how much your internship will pay you, you're probably curious about the cost of living in Singapore. Admittedly, the cost of living in Singapore is very high; in fact, it's one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you want to rent a room, this will cost you between S$1,000 to S$2,000. A private apartment will cost you S$2,000 to S$4,000. So you might need to save up before you travel to Singapore for your internship.

Top industries to find internships in

Singapore might be a city-state, but it's rich with opportunities. Here are some of the top industries that have great internships you can apply for.

Banking and Finance

Within Singapore are many international banks, as well as wealth management firms and other financial institutions. There's 24-hour trading going on here, so there's always a need for help in the banking and finance industry. If you're a night owl, finding an overnight internship can be ideal.

Biomedical Sciences

Singapore is at the forefront of biomedical advances. There are tons of big-name companies here, such as Aventis, Baxter Inc., and Pfizer. Biomedical science fields of interest include product development, clinical development, research, and manufacturing, as well as healthcare services.

Electronics

Many of the world's best electronics come from Singapore. This is why they're big in research and development, as well as distribution and manufacturing. Well-known brands that are present in this nation include Murata Manufacturing Co., STMicroelectronics, and Venturing Corporation.

Media

Another big industry in Singapore is entertainment and media. In fact, this industry is projected to grow immensely, so you can't go wrong in getting an internship here. It'll be a great way to get your foot in the door for international media. Brands in Singapore include BBC, CNBC Asia, Discovery Channel Asia, ESPN, MTV Asia, Walt Disney, and Start Sports.

Tourism

Every year, people from all over the world flock to Singapore to see what this amazing city-state has to offer. It's also close by to other Asian countries, which makes it highly appealing for those who want to take a tour around Asia. For this reason, tourism is thriving and makes Singapore an excellent place to get an internship. Types of tourism here include business, medical, and retail, amongst others.

Work culture in Singapore

Even though you're doing an internship, you should still treat it like a real job. This means you need to understand the work culture and etiquette of Singapore to fit in better.

The first thing you should know is that the majority of the population is ethnically Chinese. Because of this, it has a huge influence on how the workplace is run. Expect your work environment to be hierarchical, meaning you need to treat your superiors with respect. This also means you shouldn't publicly disagree with them; bring your concerns to private meetings instead.

As a sign of respect, you shouldn't refer to your coworkers by their first names, even if they're the same age as you or younger. Instead, use a formal title (such as Mr. or Ms.) with their last name. As for your superiors, you can call them sir, madam, or boss.

There's an emphasis on teamwork rather than individual efforts, so make sure you try extra hard to cooperate with your coworkers. In addition, never arrive at the office after your boss, and never leave before them either. It's a faux pas to do so and indicates that you're not dedicated to your job.

You should also be aware that a good portion of the population is Muslim. So be mindful about what you consume around your Muslim coworkers, such as alcohol and pork. You'll also need to take extra care in any contact between you and the opposite sex.

Although most of the Singaporean population is Chinese, the nation has a diverse range of languages. The official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is mainly spoken in most workplaces, but don't be surprised if you're surrounded by people speaking a diverse range of languages.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.