The new shortcut into a Singapore fintech job

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If you’re a student in Singapore wanting to work at a large bank, your path to clinching a job may be difficult, but it is at least clearly marked out: get good grades on a relevant university course and do multiple internships, one of which leads to a place on a graduate training programme.

If you want to work for a fintech startup, however, clinching a role straight out of university is more of a lottery. Singapore’s fintech sector may be growing rapidly, but most of the firms in it have small headcounts and hire one or two grads a year at best. They're junior hiring is typically ad hoc and doesn't follow a formal calendar like banks’ grad recruitment does.

Fortunately, if you’re a student at NUS, there’s a new way of getting fintech expertise on your CV that could potentially help you stand out from the crowd of 20-somethings clamouring to work at startups.

NUS’s School of Computing has partnered with blockchain-powered global payments firm Ripple to launch a fintech lab.

Bank-run fintech labs are nothing new in Singapore (HSBC, Standard Chartered and OCBC are among the firms that operate them), but the Ripple-NUS unit is partly targetted at students. Over the next year it plans to expose about 1,000 students and finance professionals to fintech through various courses and programmes. As well as developing in-house fintech projects, the lab will “prepare students for the career opportunities brought about by continued technological advancements in finance”, Eric van Miltenburg, SVP of global operations at Ripple, said in a NUS statement.

The implication, therefore, is that you don’t necessarily need to be a computer science student to take a fintech programme at the new lab. People studying business degrees, for example, could enrol on a course and add it to their resume when applying for a front-office (non-coding) job at a fintech.

NUS hasn’t revealed details of the courses, but it says students can also use the lab to “showcase their innovative work”. The main career benefit of the lab for students, however, may not be the new skills they learn, but the new people they meet. The lab is led by an “industry liaison group”, which includes representatives from financial institutions and government agencies. “It’s highly likely that students will be able to meet people from fintech firms at the lab – people than could end up hiring them,” says a Singaporean recruiter who works with fintechs.

It’s also likely that they will meet people from lab partner Ripple, which is good news because the San Francisco-based firm is hiring in Singapore, albeit on a small scale. Ripple is doubling its headcount in the Republic from 12 to 24 this year, according to the Business Times. It currently has two local vacancies on its careers site – for an operations engineer and a marketing manager.

Image credit: Lily Banse, Unsplash

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