Code your way to a new career

This article was originally published on IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) blog in March 2015.

“Technology will positively disrupt the way the recruitment industry operates, for recruiters, employers and candidates.”

Winners of the IDA HackerTrail challenge have the opportunity to play a more active role in the public sector’s digital transformation.

Winning a recent coding competition helped three young software engineers embark on a new career with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to develop apps for various public agencies as part of the government’s digital transformation.

At the IDA HackerTrail challenge organised by the Government Digital Services division, contestants had to submit their problem-solving codes online timed against the clock. These were evaluated in real time by IDA’s coding engine which assigned a score and rank to each entry. Participants also had to respond to various scenario-based questions and case studies with their answers reviewed by an IDA panel.

Said Mr Mark Lim, Deputy Director of IDA’s Government Digital Services: “Software developers like to be challenged so we made this competition tough. Selecting candidates through a competition may not be new – Google does this – but what we have done is to tailor ours specifically to the requirements of the job, testing not just their technical skills but also their problem-solving abilities.”

Noting that the competition created quite a buzz within the industry, he added, “In a sense it’s a new way to brand IDA. With more than 200 people taking part, it allowed us to select the very best.”

Overall winner Mr Leow Wei Jie (left in picture above, with Mr Mark Lim), 29, said, “When I first heard of the online competition, I thought that I would just give it a try for fun. The competition was tough, quite tricky. Some of the codes I came up with worked in some situations but not others so I had to do quite a bit of thinking and tinkering around with my coding solutions.”

“I didn’t think I would win much less that it would be a stepping stone to a new job but it has all worked out well,” said Mr Leow, a former infocomm officer with another public agency who is now with IDA’s Government Digital Services.

The competition’s runner up, Mr Chong Yun Long, 25, said some time after the contest ended, a few of the participants were called up for interviews. “They showed us around IDA and the development work that it was doing. This was all very interesting and exciting. Everyone here is so professional with a high degree of technical skills. I couldn’t wait to get started.”

Taking third spot in the competition was Mr Goh Yew Tee. He, like the other two winners, joined IDA in February, working with Government Digital Services to provide solutions to various public agencies.

The Government Digital Services division helps spearhead the digital transformation of government by making use of emerging digital technologies and methodologies to develop solutions for citizen engagement and outreach.

Two of its recent innovations which received wide public acclaim for their user-friendly interfaces and appealing designs are the SingStat and OneService mobile apps.

The SingStat app provides convenient access to over 200 frequently requested statistics spanning across 25 data categories, including Population, Prices, Labour, Manufacturing, Services and International Trade. The data is presented in various chart formats and can be drilled down to provide more details.

There’s also the OneService app, which was launched by the Municipal Services Office, makes it more convenient for members of the public to send their feedback on municipal issues in Singapore. The app automatically routes each feedback to the relevant agency so that more timely service and response can be provided.

With the winners of the IDA Hackertrail now onboard, the general public can look forward to even more useful killer apps in future from the Government Digital Services division.

Read the original blog here.

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