Gabrielle O.

Research Assistant
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Gabrielle O.

My employment

Research Assistant
Large business (250+ employees)

More about Gabrielle

BAME student

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A day in the life of a Research Assistant in Singapore

My most memorable day at work was when I presented the results of my analysis to school principals and teachers. Seeing the way what I am doing impacts educators in the way they teach felt very real at that point of time.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I am working for the National Institute of Education (NIE), specifically in the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice. NIE is an autonomous institute of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and is the sole teacher education institution for teachers in Singapore.

What do you do?

As a Research Assistant, I am involved in conducting research to improve the education system in Singapore. Thus, I am constantly in contact with educators and researchers locally and internationally. My responsibilities involve conducting literature scans, collecting data (through interviews and observation sessions) and analysing the data (qualitative and quantitatively). I am also involved in writing up research proposals and also in writing papers.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

Having interned at several pre-schools during the vacation periods, I have had experience with interacting with children and am familiar with the local education system. Moreover, having taken the compulsory module on Developmental Psychology in the first and second year, and advanced modules in Developmental Socio-Cognitive neuroscience, the decision to go along the education pathway was something that I expected.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

The current job sector was similar to what I thought I would enter when I graduated. However, I had intended to train as a teacher rather than work as a researcher. However, upon reflection, the role as a research assistant better suits me due to my desire to pursue a PhD later on in life. Thus, this experience would be very helpful in allowing me to hone the skills I need for the future.

Describe your most memorable day at work

My most memorable day at work was when I presented the results of my analysis to school principals and teachers. Seeing the way what I am doing impacts educators in the way they teach felt very real at that point of time.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

As my job involves writing up papers for publication or for proposals, I am constantly working even outside of work hours. Moreover, as I am constantly engaged in several projects with researchers from all over the world, there are occasions where I will have a video meeting late in the evenings to accommodate for the time difference for the researcher on the other side of the world. There may also be pressing issues that may arise that would have to be resolved immediately and this may mean putting the current work I have on hold. An example would be the Covid 19 situation where I was assigned to create lesson plans for home-based learning to aid teachers in using a certain pedagogical practice in their teaching.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

Being the youngest in my lab, I am constantly learning from the people around me. They are very supportive and also encourage me to share my ideas and my interpretation of concepts with them. I am also encouraged to attend talks held by the University and even guest lecturers about their latest research work in education. Although I have a fixed number of hours at work, I am allowed to divide the time in any way that I like throughout the day. I am also able to work from home if there are no meetings on campus.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

At University, I was a Street dancer and had competed in UoY's dance competitions in Durham and in York. I was also the Social Secretary of the Linguistics Society. From these ECAs, I had learnt the importance of teamwork. This is especially critical in research when there are many researchers working on a same paper, with the common aim of ensuring that the paper can be published.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I would really want to pursue a PhD, hopefully in Cognitive Neuroscience, to further a study that I had conducted in the final Year of my undergraduate degree.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

1) It is never too early to start looking for a job/internship! Before I returned to Singapore, I had secured an internship to teach children with Autism. However, there were other jobs that better suited my skill set.
2) Do not be afraid to apply for a diverse range of jobs. When I was applying for jobs and internships, I had applied for jobs in the F&B industry, education and even healthcare! It will just increase your experience gained:)

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

I am quite happy to answer any questions that you may have for me:)

Next steps...

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