While completing her last semester in Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) Media and Communications course in Jan 2019, Sabrina Shiraz realised she couldn’t enter a local university with her grades. So she decided to join Jurong Pioneer Junior College (JPJC), hoping that she would do well enough in A-levels to score a place in university.
“Getting into a local university was just something I wanted to check off my bucket list,” Sabrina told The UrbanWire in a Zoom interview.
However, things did not go as planned.
“I hated every minute of JC,” Sabrina said. “Not only did I have to study every single day, I also got scolded by the discipline master for my skirt being too short,” she recalled.
She was contemplating dropping out of JC when a mutual friend introduced her to Uwais Hatta and Shuraim Basir.
Uwais was doing his National Service (NS) and Shuraim had just graduated from university. The duo, who are cousins, just started a youth podcast channel called Randomly Relatable SG on Spotify and were looking for a female co-host.
When Sabrina told them that JC life was not for her, Uwais and Shuraim advised her to look for alternative paths.
And she did. After quitting JPJC in Jul 2019, she did more research on degree programmes offered by foreign universities. In Nov 2019, she started pursuing a Bachelor of Communication in the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
She also joined Randomly Relatable SG as a co-host officially in Dec 2019 at the invitation of Uwais and Shuraim.
“They enjoyed my input and voice the most [out of everyone they auditioned] and so they asked me if I would like to be a permanent host on the podcast,” she said.
The 23-year-old is now helming the channel and has covered topics from boy-girl relationships, mental health issues, salaries and others.
Dealing with Conflicts
When Sabrina started working with Uwais and Shuraim, she realised that maintaining professionalism at work was harder than she expected.
Most of the time, she was afraid to voice out her opinions when things did not align with what she wanted.
“It came to a point where I did not enjoy coming to work anymore,” Sabrina added.
This led her to leave the team in mid-2020.
“I left because I felt like they weren’t listening to the things I had to say. I felt like I was being interrupted in the podcast as if my opinions didn’t matter,” she explained.
However, she returned a month and a half later when things had calmed down and the trio decided to work things out.
“They were telling me to come back onto the podcast as they would love to have me back,” Sabrina said. “I told them about how I am unhappy with how they do not give me enough time to speak and they agreed to give me more airtime.”
Sabrina shared that after this miscommunication was sorted out, “it is a breeze to work with [Shuraim and Uwais]”.
“From then on, we made a promise to each other that if any of us are feeling even the slightest bit upset, to immediately inform the rest,” she said.
Sabrina explained that creating a work culture where everyone can voice out how they feel helped “build respect for each other”.
Dollars and Cents
While Sabrina loves her podcasting job, she didn’t do this full-time after graduating with her degree in June 2020.
The channel was new and it wasn’t bringing in enough money for the team, so she decided to join the SGUnited Traineeship programme. She did sales and marketing at B2B platform Keepital from Sept 2020 to Jul 2021, before moving to branding agency Qurio to work for another nine months.
Only in Mar 2022 did she become a full-timer at Randomly Relatable SG. As the project manager, Sabrina has to do a lot more than just hosting on air. From liaising with clients to creating invoices, quotations, content proposals and post-campaign reports, she has to learn the ropes quickly while constantly conceptualising engaging podcasts to bring in more traffic and revenue.
Randomly Relatable SG has worked with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Great Eastern, AIA, Prudential, PSB Academy, Grab, Tourism Malaysia and other clients.
“As of now, we try to only accept clients that align to what we believe in,” Sabrina said.
The channel earns the team between $1,000 and $2,000 in good months, she added. Sometimes, they are compensated with sponsored deals instead of cash payment.
Although working full-time means more responsibilities for Sabrina as compared to her co-hosts, she is not taking a bigger cut of their earnings.
“I don’t mind sacrificing my share to re-invest into the company, as I am not in need of the extra money currently,” she explained.
The income from podcasting is sufficient for her to sustain her current lifestyle. However, she doesn’t think it’ll be enough once she moves out of her parents’ house and starts a family.
“I cannot tell you that right now I can retire if I keep at this,” she said. “But that is exactly why I joined podcasting full time, because I want to bring the podcast to a point where I am able to make money from it to solely support myself and maybe eventually my family,” she continued.
As for her co-hosts, Shuraim is currently employed full-time as an advertising client service associate. Uwais is pursuing Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) while working as a Senior Associate at IAM Advisory.
Her Advice: Don’t Drop Out
Sabrina advises young Singaporeans to “not drop out on impulse” and to “always make sure that you have a safety net”.
“Like it or not, we are living in Singapore where a lot of things are about the qualifications that you have, even though we are evolving into a more open minded society,” she explained.
Her diploma from SP and her degree from RMIT are her “safety net”, she said.
“Some people believe that no safety net is the best safety net because you will keep on going but I do not agree,” she said. “So no matter what, please have a safety net and also at the same time work hard to get to the top and where you want to be.”
You can catch Sabrina, Uwais and Shuraim on Randomly Relatable SG on Spotify at 9pm every Mondays and Thursdays.
Proofread By: Shannon Gan, Effa Serena, Darrius Chua and Nashita Farveen