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Quiz: Are You Cut Out to be an ISD Officer?

Take our short quiz to gauge if you are up for the role of an ISD officer!
ISD Rachel Civilian Scholarship Cover 01

As one of the Home Team Departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Internal Security Department (ISD) collects and analyses intelligence, and takes action to protect Singapore’s internal stability and sovereignty from threats such as terrorism, communal and religious extremism, foreign subversion and espionage.

If this makes you think the work is all cloak-and-dagger spy missions, nothing is further from the truth. 

In fact, this is the most common misconception of what officers do in real life, according to “Rachel” who has spent the last 14 years at ISD, and is now Head (Operations) overseeing rehabilitation of detainees under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and aftercare of released detainees. 

We sat down with Rachel to understand more about her experience and distill what sort of personality traits are most suited for the role of an ISD officer.

Take our short quiz to assess yourself!

Question 1. Do you enjoy interacting with people from diverse backgrounds?
A: Yes, I'm interested to meet people with different viewpoints to understand their perspectives.
B: No, I find it mentally draining to relate to and connect with people who hold different opinions from me. 

Good job fit – option A.

Rachel’s first role in ISD was at the Outreach unit responsible for engaging various segments of the community to build resilience against the dangers of terrorism and radicalisation. 

“My audience are diverse; from youths to community leaders, grassroots and even migrant workers, so I had to be able to connect with people of different age groups and education levels to get my message across,” said Rachel.

ISD Rachel Civilian Scholarship 02
Part of Rachel’s previous job scope was conducting outreach to raise awareness of the extremism threat.

Question 2. Do you prefer to work in a collaborative environment or to pursue goals independently?
A: I like being part of a team that works towards a common goal as it energises me!
B: It is faster for me to work alone as having teammates will only slow me down.

Good job fit – option A.

Mobilising the whole of society is not a one-man show. The ability to work well in a team has enabled Rachel to effectively organise outreach activities, conduct forums with community partners and contribute to the set-up of SGSecure – an involvement she counts as a highlight of her career.  

As a first-of-its-kind nation-wide movement involving fellow Home Team Departments, other ministries like Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education, as well as businesses, religious and community organisations, Rachel had to coordinate closely with multiple parties to get the project off the ground. 

To initiate awareness of SGSecure, Rachel also liaised with Home Team Departments to conduct a series of briefings on countering radicalisation for Home Team officers including members of the Honorary Volunteer Special Constabulary and the Home Team Volunteer Network. 

Question 3. How receptive are you to changes and trying new ways of working?
A: I tend to keep an open mind to find opportunities in different situations.
B: Don’t rock the boat. It’s preferable to stick to tried-and-tested methods.

Good job fit – option A.

The security landscape and threats are never static. Take for example, the COVID-19 pandemic which was a catalyst that accelerated the adoption of technology. This also meant that extremists turned their focus towards online radicalisation.

“The Internet is a double-edged sword, especially with more youths staying online 24/7 during lockdowns. We had to be open-minded, to stay ahead of the curve and deal promptly with the ever-changing landscape,” explained Rachel.

ISD Rachel Civilian Scholarship 03
Rachel’s work requires her to work with diverse stakeholders to achieve a common goal.

Question 4. Do you have a growth mindset?
A: If I have to struggle with something, it means that I’m not born with the ability to do it well.
B: Each time that I struggle with something is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Good job fit – option B.

Before Rachel entered public service, the Temasek Polytechnic graduate with a diploma in Law and Management was a restaurant manager and events coordinator for a few years.

Armed with a readiness to embrace challenges and lifelong learning, Rachel attained a First-Class Honours degree in Business and Commerce, and a Master’s in Counselling, both sponsored by ISD while she was on the job.

She said: “For me, I do not expect to see immediate results in career goals, and as a long-term career, ISD has provided me with holistic opportunities to grow, professionally and personally.”

Question 5. What drives you to achieve more at work?
A: I am driven to advance in the workplace and set goals to strive for the next promotion.
B: I am driven by a sense of purpose, to be part of a cause that is greater than myself.

Good job fit – option B.

As an ISD officer, every day brings with it unique challenges and when it comes to rehabilitation, no two cases are the same. Rachel’s most memorable – and satisfying – experience was to witness detainees released from supervision. 

“What drives me to push through difficulties is how meaningful my job is. Even if it was just one person rehabilitated, we would have made the difference to the detainee’s family and avert a potential tragedy to the community,” stated Rachel. 

“I am glad to be part of a mission to safeguard Singapore and keep my loved ones safe.” 

MHA Civilian Scholarship
The MHA Civilian Scholarship is awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. Recipients of the MHA Civilian Scholarship may choose from a variety of exciting and rewarding Home Team careers according to their interests and aspirations. This civilian scholarship offers six career tracks: a Generalist track and five Specialist tracks: Intelligence; Psychology; Commercial AffairsScience and Technology; and Internal Security

Read other articles in this series
Generalist track - A Guide to becoming a Policymaker
Intelligence track - No Glitches in this Matrix: The Unseen Work of a Crime Analyst
Commercial Affairs track - Truth Behind the Drama: Busting Money Laundering Myths

Be inspired by the Home Team, on Telegram: t.me/hometeamnews
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Written by

Lynn Ng


1 March 2023

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