One was a London-based manager earning big money. The other dreamed of counting big money as an auditor.
Now, both have dropped their corporate suits to be teachers.
"My grand-uncle was a teacher who graduated from the Teacher's Training College in the 1950s, my mum was a teacher as well and my sister is also currently a teacher," said Mr Taranpal Singh, who is in his 30s.
After he graduated from Nanyang Business School with a Bachelor of Business in 2000, he became a London-based client engagement manager in the European IT services industry.
He said he earned five times his present teacher's salary in his previous job.
But he gave that all up in 2011 and graduated yesterday from the National Institute of Education at the Teachers' Investiture Ceremony as a fully-fledged teacher after a two-year course.
The ceremony saw the graduation of 1,446 new and returning teachers.
The Ministry of Education is open to those considering mid-career switches to be teachers and offers salary increments according to past working experience as well.
Mr Singh said he had always wanted to be a teacher and that he took the overseas job to gain a global perspective so as to enrich his teaching. His school days also nurtured his love for teaching.
Being educated in St Joseph's Institution led him to adopt its values: "To be men of integrity and men for others".
He said: "It was the greatest lesson I learnt in school and to me, I could achieve this most aptly through teaching and moulding young lives."
Ms Cristy Therese Lim graduated with an accountancy degree from Nanyang Technological University in 2010 and although she got her dream job as an auditor, she grew to dislike the job after two years.
Ms Lim, who is in her 20s, said: "It felt very mundane and even though you've finished your own work, you can't knock off."
As she had previously toyed with the idea of teaching, she decided to give it a try and was posted to Damai Secondary School as a contract teacher.
That was when she found that she liked the job and culture.
She said: "Since I started teaching, I have never had the Monday blues, so I must be doing something right."
Teacher's pest turns teacher
Hardly. In fact, as a student, Mr Lim Li Cheng was a teacher’s pest.
Recalling his school days, Mr Lim, who was in the Normal Academic stream, said: “I had quite a bad attitude towards my teachers and even skipped classes occasionally.”
Mr Lim said he and his friends were rather rebellious then.
“Some of my teachers asked me to stay away from my friends for they feared that they would be a bad influence on me, which really made me dislike my teachers more.
“I felt that they had no right to influence my choice of friends.”
But his then Maths teacher, Ms Tay Ngee Mui, stood out with a different approach. He said: “She would use me to reach out to my friends instead and asked me to help them out in Maths.”
His friends were cool with the idea, as they felt that studying with peers was more fun than attending lessons with teachers.
That was when he realised his calling as a teacher.
Yesterday, the fresh-faced 26-year-old graduated from NIE with a Bachelor of Science (Education) to be a teacher himself.
Mr Lim, who still keeps in contact with his secondary school friends, said: “They expected me to be a teacher so it wasn’t too big a surprise to them.
“But some of them will still confide in me, saying they cannot believe that they are friends with a teacher.”
Mr Lim feels that his background has helped him to reach out to rowdier students better. He said: “I find myself being able to understand their perspectives better, which is the key.”
This article was first published on July 10, 2014.
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