Your Ultimate Guide to DBS SEED Programme (2022)

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Note: This is NOT a sponsored post; we do not receive any incentive from DBS for publishing this post. Any information in this article is either publicly available or submitted by NodeFlair users, and not provided by DBS.

In this guide, we will discuss the DBS SEED (Skill Enhancement Education & Development Programme) - a technical programme that is highly popular among fresh graduates.

We compiled the information and questions from users we interviewed and online forums. These users have all undergone the DBS SEED application process, with some of them being current and former SEEDers.

Disclaimer:

While we do our best to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date by cross-checking it with a sizable number of individuals, we acknowledge that the questions might be changed over time, or it might vary across departments and interviewers.

TL;DR: All You Need To Know About DBS SEED

  • What is the DBS SEED Programme (Skill Enhancement Education & Development Programme)?
  • Applying to DBS SEED: Application Period and Who is Eligible?
  • DBS SEED Application Process: Cognitive Test + HackerRank Coding Test + Hackathon TechTrek
  • DBS SEED Hackathon TechTrek: Developer Handbook + Schedule + Challenge Statament + Tips
  • DBS SEED Review - Why you should/ should not join
  • DBS SEED Salary and Benefits - Does it pay well? 💰
  • Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the DBS SEED Programme (Skill Enhancement Education & Development Programme)?

Skill Enhancement Education & Development Programme (SEED) is a programme of up to 24 months, designed to train a future-ready workforce able to take on any technological challenge. 

What can you expect from the programme?

  • On-The-Job Training - Acquire hard skills with hands-on experiences in innovation
  • Projects - Explore ideas and opportunities through different projects
  • Supplemental Training - Develop in-depth skills and gain knowledge in tech innovation through workshops and events

What are the roles offered?

  • Developer: Develop banking applications to transact with customers in the digital age
  • DevOps: Develop and operate key banking systems leveraging modern technologies and techniques. 
  • Information Security: Safeguard access to DBS bank’s information systems.

Applying to DBS SEED: Application Period and Who is Eligible?

Application Period

  • The SEED programme commences in the first and third quarters of every year in January and July.
  • The application process starts in the third quarter of the year for intake in the following year. For example, if you want to join the programme next year, you need to apply when the recruitment process starts this third quarter.

Who is eligible?

  • Fresh graduates and degree holders with 0-2 years of working experience​​
  • Have a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or Info-Communications). If you do not have a root degree in STEM but have a minor/taken a few STEM modules, you are still eligible to apply.

DBS SEED Application Process

There are three main interview rounds.

  1. Cognitive & Behavioural Assessments
  2. Coding Challenge: Online Assessment using HackerRank
  3. DBS SEED Hackathon: TechTrek

Only shortlisted candidates are invited to the hackathon.

DBS SEED Cognitive & Behavioural Assessments

Disclaimer: There isn’t much information online about the cognitive assessment for recent applications. While the information below was consistent up to 2020, we cannot verify if it has changed since then. Nevertheless, we still think it helps to know the applicants they are looking for.

The PLI Test, formally known as PI Cognitive Assessment, is structured to evaluate your general cognitive capability. This includes your ability to process and implement complex information, adapt, reason, analyse, plan, and solve problems.

Just like any standard PLI test, the DBS cognitive test is divided into three main categories that are essential in measuring the individuals’ cognitive capabilities and knowledge acquisition:

  • Numerical reasoning: Testing number values, number series, and mathematical problems.
  • Verbal reasoning: Test verbal analysis, antonyms, and analogies.
  • Abstract reasoning: Test common features, visual analogies, as well as visual series.

It consists of 50 questions, equally distributed among the nine categories, and takes only 12 minutes to complete. Questions are of varying difficulty.

The questions are not difficult, but the real challenge lies in the short time limit you have to answer them. On average, you have less than 15 seconds to think over each question.


DBS SEED Coding Challenge: Online Assessment using HackerRank

There will be an online coding assessment using HackerRank where you are tasked to solve some questions.

From DBS’s website, “the assessment will require you to use Java or Python.”

Questions for Coding Challenge 2021

CODING CHALLENGE 1 (30 mins)

Given a string of lowercase letters, make the string smallest in lexicographical order by swapping its characters.

CODING CHALLENGE 2 (60 mins)

Sort numbers based on prime factorization.

Input: N = 5, Numbers = [3, 4, 8, 9, 12]

Output: 4, 8, 12, 3, 9

Explanation:

  • 4 = 2 * 2
  • 8 = 2 * 2 * 2
  • 12 = 2 * 2 * 3
  • 3 = 3
  • 9 = 3 * 3

CODING CHALLENGE 3 (45 mins) - BONUS

Write a program which determines whether a snake (in the game Snake) wins the game or ends up eating itself

Experiences and Outcomes for Coding Challenge 2021

  • Person A: Could not do Coding Challenge 1 at all -> NOT Shortlisted ❌
  • Person B: Pass a few test cases for Coding Challenge 1 + Could not do Coding Challenge 2 -> Shortlisted ✔️
  • Person C: Pass all test cases for Coding Challenge 1 + Pass a few test cases for Coding Challenge 2 -> Shortlisted ✔️

DBS SEED Hackathon: TechTrek

If you have made it this far, congratulations! The TechTrek hackathon is the last round of assessment for the SEED programme. As there is a lot to cover and deep-dive about how you can best prepare for the hackathon TechTrek, we have dedicated the next whole section to it!

Deep Dive into DBS SEED Hackathon TechTrek!

TechTrek is a 1-day hackathon by DBS for the SEED programme. The hackathon is virtual (likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic). You will be assigned into groups of 5-6 members. An Accessor will be assigned to each group to monitor the work, progress and interactions within the group. 

You will have about 6 hours to develop a solution. You have the flexibility to choose the technology stacks, but there are some recommended tech stacks - more about them in the next section.


DBS TechTrek: Developer Handbook

A TechTrek Developer Handbook will be given to help you better prepare for the hackathon. This handbook includes the required skills, as well as other recommendations. Do note that the recommendations in the handbook serve as a guide and are not used for assessment purposes.

Frontend Development

  • Required skillsets: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, API call and Authentication
  • While any frameworks are allowed, React library is recommended due to its ease of use. Functional components are also preferred to class components.
  • For API calls and HTTP requests, Axios and Fetch are recommended
  • Other recommendations include Global State Management (using Context API and Redux) and Session Management

Backend Development

  • Required skillsets: JavaScript (Node.js) and Python, RESTful API, CRUD operations and Authentication
  • Recommended frameworks are Express (JavaScript) and Flask (Python) as they are lightweight and easy to implement
  • For databases, the recommendations are SQL (MariaDB and MySQL) or NoSQL (MongoDB)

DBS TechTrek: What to Expect during the Day Itself? 

08:00 AM - Registration Meeting

The hackathon starts with a simple registration. You are required to turn on your microphone and camera and your attendance will be verified against your identification card, so have them ready and be in a well lighted and conducive environment.

09.00 AM - Event Brief

After the registration process is completed, there will be an event brief. You will be given an introduction to the hackathon and briefed on the challenge - more about the Challenge Statement in the next section.

In addition, you will be allocated to a team of 5-6 members.

10:00 AM - Ice Breakers + Commencement of the Hackathon

After a short break, you will be introduced to your team members and undergo a simple round of icebreakers - a self-introduction, which school you are from, what do you do during your free time etc.

Next, your team will get the chance to discuss and plan for the challenge, and split the workload.

About 6 hours later, the hackathon will come to an end and you will get into breakout rooms to present your work and demonstrate your product. There will also be a short round of non-technical interviews, where you are asked some simple questions, such as why you are interested in the programme.

05:15 PM - Closing Remark

It’s a wrap! There will be some sharings by the Accessors and Committees, a photo-taking session and a feedback session!

Source: Tenor

DBS TechTrek: Here Comes the Challenge Statement!

You are provided with a Challenge Statement, which includes the scope for the project, such as:

  • The task: A simplified full-stack web application (More about the past challenges below)
  • Basic requirements for Frontend, include building use cases like “Render a login page”, “User must be able to log in”, “User must be able to upload a post”
  • Basic requirements for Backend, include setting up authentication API, and knowing how CRUD requests work
  • Advanced requirements are optional but good to have. This include features like “searching for other users”, “chatting with other users”, “Data Visualisation”, “Adding JSON Web Token (JWT) in authentication” and more
  • Other optional tasks include deploying the application to Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • Data provided and its ERD Diagram

Past challenges all include creating a simplified full-stack web application:

  • Social engagement platform
  • E-commerce site
  • Budget Management application

Other useful tips shared!

  • While the challenge statement changes every year, the scope of the challenge is pretty standard throughout the past years. As such, you can prepare beforehand by referring to the Developer Handbook given and be familiarised with the tech stacks. 
  • Like other hackathons, you can even go the extra mile of practising beforehand and preparing boilerplate code. This is helpful, especially when you do not have much time during the hackathon.
  • You will be required to share the GitHub link of your project with your accessors. As such, practise good workflows and branching models. Push your commits frequently instead of pushing them all at once at the end of the hackathon.
  • Beyond accessing your capability to build a technical product, the TechTrek hackathon is also a way for DBS to look for team players with good interpersonal and communication skills!

DBS SEED Review - Is it good?

We have covered a lot about the programme and what you can expect, but one question that many always ask: Is the SEED programme really good and worth applying for?

The following pointers are compiled from the feedback from people we have interviewed. Note that depending on the department you are allocated to, your experience might differ.


Why you should join

  • Very competitive salaries and benefits, arguably the best leave benefits among the banks! (More on this in the next section)
  • Good learning opportunity from hands-on work and learning on the job
  • Great mentorship provided by senior SEEDers and tech leads.
  • Opportunity to rotate to another department.
  • Operates like a start-up: This means flexibility to take up multiple tasks and hats.
  • Good work environment: DBS has a "5@5" that encourages employees to take off work one hour earlier on Fridays at 5 p.m. so they can spend more time with their friends and families. 
  • If you are a non-Computer Science graduate, this is a great opportunity to enter the software engineering space.

Why you should not join

  • The technical screening process might not be the most airtight. This is the main concern feedback by many and is understandable given the nature of the assessment. With only a short coding challenge consisting of easy questions and a hackathon where applicants are grouped into relatively large teams of 5 to 6 members, it would be challenging to consistently screen for technical depths among the many applicants.*
  • Unlike direct hires, SEEDers do not get to choose their very first department and role.
  • It is a 1-year contract, subject to renewal at the end of the first year. Only after the 2-year programme would you be offered permanent employment.
  • You might be working on prototypes that are unlikely to be deployed in the end. But do note this is not uncommon even in start-ups or the innovation arm of big tech companies.
  • One reviewer stated that the employee-friendly culture policies might not translate across the different departments, to the extent of it being a 996 culture in some departments. Disclaimer: we do not have any ways to verify this.

* According to an article by SIT-DigiPen, the programme had 2,800 applicants in the first year alone when it was first announced in 2017, and the numbers have likely gone up since then


Source: Know Your Meme

DBS SEED Salary and Benefits - Does it pay well?

The offer is non-negotiable and starts at $5,000. 

It will be increased to $5,275, $5,900 and $6,400 at the 6, 12 and 24 months mark. We do not have verified data on this, but it is relatively consistent from what we have found out and might differ for individuals.

Considering that the 50th and 70th percentile of junior developers make $4,750 and $5,850 in monthly base salary based on our Tech Talent Compensation Report 2021/2022, the salary package is very competitive.

In addition, there will also be variable annual bonuses, which range between 2 to 4 months, depending on your department.

Other benefits include:

  • 24 days of annual leave + 2 days of family leave
  • $600 for welfare - which can be used to buy ergonomic equipment & more (Is it finally time for that gaming chair you have been eyeing?)
  • Claiming expenses for courses, such as the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification

In addition, based on verified user submissions on NodeFlair Salaries, the average salary (compared to market's median) for DBS Software Engineers, inclusive of non-SEED employees, is:

  • Intern*: $1,500 ($1,000 - $1,200)
  • Junior: $5,250 ($4,750)
  • Mid: $6,450 ($6,500)
  • Senior: $7,957 ($7,500)
  • Lead: $11,525 ($9,000)

* This data is from speaking to ex-interns from DBS as we do not have verifiable salary data.

Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These are the other questions that are not covered, taken from the DBS SEED website.

What type of training will I receive?

  • Our training structure is based on a mix of experience, education and exposure. The intensive curriculum which includes banking and financial skills and concepts, business and personal effectiveness modules. After the initial training, ongoing training and development opportunities will also be provided.

How quickly can I progress?

  • All Graduate Associate Programmes are broad-based development programmes designed for high-potential individuals with a passion to build successful and fast-tracked careers in DBS. You will be placed on fast-track progression within the programme period. Opportunities for regional exposure will also be available for outstanding individuals who have performed well, to further enhance their career development.

Do you require prior experience in the Banking industry?

  • No. We welcome talents outside of the banking industry who wish to pivot and focus on a career in Banking and Finance.

Should you join the DBS SEED Programme?

Overall, it is not hard to see why the DBS SEED programme is a popular choice among fresh graduates, given the competitive salary and benefits offered. After all, DBS is one of the top 10 most popular companies in Singapore by searches, based on our research in the Tech Talent Compensation Report 2021/2022.

On the other hand, the SEED programme is not for everyone, especially those seeking a more technically challenging environment in companies like Shopee, Grab and Bytedance, which are in the top 5 most searched companies in our report. If these companies are what you are looking for, the following interview guides might be useful!

Lastly, we would like to give another round of thanks to those who have contributed to this article - this wouldn’t have been possible without their input, and we are sure the tech communities appreciate it a lot too.

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