The Job Market Experience: As Shared by SMU PhD in Business Candidates

By the SMU Postgraduate Research Programmes Team

The ‘Job Market Experience Sharing Session’ on 26 February 2019, brought together nearly 60 SMU academic research PhD students. These students uncovered tips shared by four PhD in Business graduating students—Sungkyun MoonTan Yong ChinJin Mengzi, and Guo Li.

Organised by SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), the sharing session was geared towards PhD students preparing for the job market. The four graduating students shared about how they secured faculty placements at prestigious universities from around the world, including Bocconi University in Italy, City University of Hong Kong, Fudan University in Shanghai and Peking University in Beijing.


Sharing by Sungkyun: What he finds important

Sungkyun expressed his gratitude to SMU for empowering him to embark on his job market journey. He emphasised the significance of the job market paper and stressed the importance of doing what you like and being passionate about it. He also highlighted on two key areas of focus, ‘Identity’ and ‘Practice’:

  • Identity: Who you are? What are you going to be like as a researcher? How are you going to differentiate yourself?
  • Practice: Always go the extra mile to schedule mock interviews with faculty members.


Sungkyun sharing about his job market experience


Yong Chin’s Take on his Experience with the Job Market

Yong Chin advised the students on seven points that he wished he knew when he was working the job market. These are:

1.     To get at least four reference letters so as to avoid the circumstance where you have to ask for additional reference letters at the last minute

2.     To always submit the complete package during application as this is expected, albeit this may not be required all the time

3.     To avoid overscheduling of conferences which may cause students to compromise on the time they have to prepare for the interview

4.     To take the interviewers’ responses with a pinch of salt as their reactions generally do not necessarily represent the interview outcomes

And for the onsite campus visits in particular, he advised the following:

5.     To book the most flexible flight options

6.     To prepare conversation starters

7.     To find out more about the key decision makers


Yong Chin advising students on what he wished he knew when he was working the job market


Mengzi’s Memorable Job Market Experience

Mengzi spoke about the fair share of aggressive questions she encountered during the interviews, but stressed that her constant practices on job talks and social support from friends and advisors helped her along the way. She advised on finding out exactly what are the requirements of the universities in China, so that the application processes at these universities would be clearer to potential applicants.

Mengzi added that if she could describe her job market experience in one word, it would be: Grateful.


Mengzi sharing about her interview experiences


Guo Li’s Advice on the Job Market

Guo Li attributed his success to having a diversified portfolio, exploring other projects, mindfulness of early deadlines, as well as sending job applications not just to universities of interest, but also to departments within the universities that are of interest and likely to interview you.

Guo Li says that ‘communication’ and ‘luck’ were two words that characterised his job market experience.


Li sharing his advice on the job market



One of the top questions raised was: What were your personal considerations when you were deciding where to apply?

Sungkyun shared that he centred his applications on schools that are in line with his research topic. Mengzi also added that considerations should be made on the environment and economic growth of that country.

SMU Associate Professor Roy Chua, Programme Director of the PhD in Business programme, advised the students to note down all the questions raised during the practice job talks and prepare their answers for these questions, in order to gear themselves up for potential questions that might be asked during these interviews. He also recommended students to attend the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition to help them get acquainted with the necessary skills for their interviews and job talks.

It was hugely rewarding to see the students leave the session with so many takeaways, and we hope that our students’ job market experience will be as fruitful and rewarding as their seniors.


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