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How Crimewatch planted the seeds for her future career
Upon graduation, Ms Gerianne Bu will join the MHA Headquarters where she will help set government policies. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

However, instead of the work of policing, the MHA scholar is choosing to keep the nation safe in a different capacity

When she was a child, Ms Gerianne Bu was fascinated by the television series Crimewatch.

A popular crime re-enactment series showcasing the work of police officers, it later became the inspiration for her future career.

“Crimewatch was family-bonding time. I have always appreciated the work of policing and found investigative work interesting,” says the 19-year-old, who still watches the programme with her grandparents.

Instead of joining the uniformed officers in one of the front-line agencies under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), she will be keeping Singapore safe in another capacity.

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A recipient of the MHA Civilian Scholarship (Generalist), Ms Bu will start her career at MHA Headquarters (HQ). There, she will help set policies, coordinate joint operations and engage the community on safety and security issues.

“I have always wanted a job that involves something greater than myself, not just chasing profits,” she reflects.

“It is important to know that I will be doing work that is part of a cause that I care about.”

Since she was a child, Ms Gerianne Bu (bottom left) has spent time with her family by watching Crimewatch together. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GERIANNE BU

Ms Bu has just started the second semester of her first year at the National University of Singapore (NUS), reading data science and economics. Both domains will help her in crafting security policies when she joins the ministry after graduation.

“Economics is about cost-benefit analysis, not just for individuals but also at the societal level,” explains Ms Bu, who matriculated at NUS in 2023.

As for data science, “data is everywhere”, she quips. Applying data science skills will help MHA make better decisions regarding domestic security.

Finding the right fit

Ms Bu was drawn to the flexibility and diversity offered by the Civilian Generalist track, where officers can explore roles across a broad range of divisions within MHA HQ. They include policy planning, human resources and finance.

However, before applying for the scholarship, Ms Bu wanted to make sure she had a good idea of what her future career entailed.

Ms Bu was drawn by the flexibility and diversity offered by the MHA Civilian Generalist track. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GERIANNE BU

Hence, she did a four-month internship with the Criminal Justice and Immigration Research Directorate (CJIRD) in the Research and Statistics Division of MHA HQ in 2023, an experience which cemented her decision to apply for the scholarship.

At CJIRD, Ms Bu met MHA officers from various public service backgrounds, including the Central Narcotics Bureau.

“My interaction with the supervisors at the CJIRD played a big part in my decision to apply for the scholarship,” she says. “There is diverse exposure to so many types of work. That breadth of experience will help me become a more holistic officer.”

The scholar says she will prioritise gaining experience from the different divisions at the MHA HQ.

MHA Civilian Generalists also get to rotate among 12 domain areas across 11 Home Team agencies, which gives them exposure and opportunities to develop a wide range of competencies.

“Peace, security and cohesion do not come by easily – they are the outcome of the many discussions and hard work of officers behind the scenes,” she says.

Placing people first

During her stint at the CJIRD, Ms Bu was surprised to find a warm, people-first culture.

“Before the internship, my impression of MHA was that of a security organisation, regimental and ‘law-by-law’,” she says.

“I have always wanted a job that involves something greater than myself, not just chasing profits.”

Ms Gerianne Bu, recipient of the MHA Civilian Scholarship (Generalist)

The reality was quite different. At MHA HQ, she found welcoming supervisors, a caring senior leadership and a fun-loving environment.

“During celebrations for Hari Raya Haji, senior management was striking up conversations with staff on the ground and serving food to different members of the organisation,” recalls Ms Bu.

“There was also a town hall session based on a Mario Kart theme, with costumes, decorations and balloons. There was a lot of effort put into making the event enjoyable.”

Ms Bu was also impressed by the opportunities for constant upskilling. During her internship, one of the supervisors was attending a coding class to learn about data science.

“You do not have to find time for upskilling – the organisation pushes for it,” she adds.

Although Ms Bu will join MHA only a few years later, she is looking forward to the eight-week vacation attachment programmes during longer semester breaks. She hopes to join a policy-oriented division.

“I have always been interested in the notion that what is written and considered in a policy paper can determine the fates of so many people. But with that power comes responsibility – we are answerable to the rest of the country,” she says.

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