From Arts to Built Environment- Dinah's Story
Most of us set out with a plan for our careers, setting out our education paths in-line with what we want to do for the future. But for most of us, these plans often take a different route and while it may not be what we expected, we do have to make the most of it regardless. Take it from Dinah, a graduate of our Advanced Diploma and BSc in Facilities Management courses who shifted her sights from a career in the arts scene, to becoming a Facilities Manager and enjoying it.
DR: I’ve been working in the Facilities Management (FM) field for 5 years now, primarily in private residential areas and managing several project works simultaneously. I’m very interested in joining Commercial FM though and someday I hope to manage my own team of FM individuals! Outside of work, I love music and attending live concerts.
In fact, it was her interest in music that led her in the direction of taking up a Diploma in Arts Management after secondary school.
DR: I’ve always been interested in becoming a backstage director, but after my diploma, I was rather unsuccessful in applying for full-time positions. Back then the arts scene wasn’t as booming as it is now.
While still searching for a job, Dinah worked part-time at a bar, much to the disproval of her family due to the nightlife environment she was in. It was at this point that they prompted her to try out an admin role in an FM company.
DR: I never thought about working as a Facilities Manager prior to that, but with the opportunity I naturally became interested in understanding the FM industry and started asking some of my colleagues about it more and more.
Eventually, Dinah had made the decision that FM was the career that she wanted to build her career in, and the first thing she set out to do was to find the qualifications she needed to kickstart her career.
DR: In today’s day and age, having the proper qualification is one of the most basic requirements when applying for any position. It was crucial for me to get my higher education sorted out as I wanted to excel in this industry, and I wouldn’t be able to progress without an advanced diploma or degree.
There weren’t many schools offering FM degrees or advanced diplomas, but Trent was an easy choice. Their advanced diploma helped me to enter straight into a bachelor’s programme and the staff were really helpful and responsive during my queries, they even advised me on which bank to take up an education loan! I felt very supported by the team since day 1 and it felt like a safe space for me to embark on my education journey.
As many have faced, juggling work and studies is no easy task, but Dinah decided to pursue her degree immediately after taking her advanced diploma, prolonging her studies even further whilst balancing her budding career.
DR: It was extremely challenging, 2018 – 2020 were some of my busiest years as a Facilities Manager. I had back-to-back upgrading / enhancement projects and it got really stressful managing these things on my own. Of course, I had expected that working full-time while studying would be crazy, but somehow through all that I managed to pass all my modules without having to repeat any subjects!
I have many people to thank for helping me get through this period of time, my teachers always responded to my emails whenever I had questions and my classmates shared notes and guided me along the way as well. I was also blessed with supportive and pragmatic clients at work, they really gave me the confidence to push through the really stressful situations.
On top of the environment, Dinah also had a unique way of coping with the constant pressure.
DR: At the time I was just starting out on my meditation practice, and it helped me to concentrate on both my studies and work responsibilities. I can’t say enough about how reading these meditation and self-help books helped in managing my personal life and well-being, as well as having the best sleep ever. I recommend the mobile app Calm, that can guide you through heartbreak, loneliness, anxiety and stress in general.
Following her graduation from both programmes, Dinah recalls how the course had helped her in recognizing the broader scope of the FM industries and improve her current scope of work.
DR: Subjects like procurement and the various group activities helped in areas like tendering documents, managing maintenance schedules and other security-related aspects. Again, I want to reiterate that because FM is a very broad industry, you do need to take up a course to educate yourself on the different sectors.
As we ended the conversation, it was clear that Dinah had much to credit in the various people involved in her life for the strides she’s made in the industry and overcoming her numerous challenges. It was no surprise that her biggest takeaway was not academic, but rather the friends she made.
DR: My greatest takeaway has been meeting my classmates who have all become really close friends with to this day. Trent was a great platform for me to meet others in the industry and they’ve helped me so much in my work. If you’re thinking of pursuing higher education, I’d say go for it. Yes, there will be stressful and difficult moments, but it’s all part of the journey, and you’ll find the rewards of your struggles just so satisfying.
We’re happy to have been a part of Dinah’s journey and as with all our graduates, we can’t wait to see how they will excel in the industry and play a part in maintaining Singapore’s structures.