Beyond the Walls of the Classrooms
SIT’s SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programme combines classroom learning and real-world experience to help students prepare for the workforce.
For Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) students, the real working world is their classroom too. Through SIT’s commitment to applied learning, students are constantly pushed to put what they have learnt in school to the test, and apply them in real-world situations.
As part of this, SIT’s SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programme (WSDP) aims to provide students with industry knowledge and career opportunities through partnerships with several companies and agencies. We speak to Chua Kah Sheng and Shevaun Koh, who were from the first batch of graduates from the WSDP, to find out more about their experiences under the programme.
Chua Kah Sheng
Engineer, Enterprise IT, DSTA / Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Information and Communications Technology (Software Engineering) – Singapore Institute of Technology
Out Of The Classroom
For both Kah Sheng and Shevaun, it was the opportunity to gain experience outside of the classroom that attracted them to apply for the WSDP under the Term-in/Term-out scheme, where they alternated between spending one to two trimesters in university and at the workplace.
Kah Sheng shares, “I was always on the lookout for opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge in emerging fields such as data analytics and artificial intelligence. When I heard of the WSDP, I was really keen as it seemed like a good platform to gain professional experience.”
Another plus point of applying for the WSDP was the experience of going through interviews, added Shevaun. “I enrolled into the WSDP to get a feel of how interviews work, so as to prepare myself for future internship and job finding.”
As students of Information and Communications Technology, and Software Engineering in particular, they can choose from a range of partner organisations such as Accenture and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) under the WSDP.
Witnessing first-hand how DSTA harnesses the latest technology to meet Singapore’s defence needs during his National Service was what led Kah Sheng to apply to DSTA under the WDSP.
As an intern, he was part of the Data Analytics team under DSTA’s Enterprise IT Programme Centre, which focuses on harnessing data analytics and machine learning techniques in innovative ways to assist the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces in making better business decisions. He worked on applying analytics for enterprise risk management, where he leveraged advanced machine learning algorithms on large datasets to uncover insights.
“My internship has built up my foundation and interest in data analytics, which has allowed me to undertake projects in defence engineering,” says Kah Sheng. “The experience and skills I picked up were very applicable to my school modules too. Working on real-world projects has led me to relate to some modules better, and also helped me in my problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The stint also strengthened my interpersonal and public speaking skills through opportunities to share my work at major events.”
Shevaun Koh Wei Lin
Software Engineering Analyst, Accenture / Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Information and Communications Technology (Software Engineering) – Singapore Institute of Technology
Into The Workforce
SIT’s commitment to applied learning also shines through in its students who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to adapt quickly to the working world.
During her experience with Accenture, the partner organisation she applied for under the WDSP, Shevaun was able to link what she learnt in her modules in SIT to the work there. She joined their Development Team on her one-year Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) last year, and was tasked with overseeing two features of a software development project.
“I had to apply what I learnt from school to do the requirements gathering from the clients, as well as to pick up the skills to develop the features. I was able to pick up the skills required in work more easily from the modules taught,” explains Shevaun. “Through this, I understood better why the skills taught in SIT were required and important.”
Shevaun has found that her education in SIT continues to hold her in good stead, even as she took on a full-time role with Accenture in the same team in January this year.
Similarly, Kah Sheng joined DSTA’s Enterprise IT Programme Centre as a full-time data analytics engineer after graduating from SIT too. He says, “Throughout my education at SIT, I was constantly challenged to come up with innovative solutions to solve practical problems. Not only has this bolstered my problem-solving skills, it also taught me the importance of adapting to change.”
He continues, “SIT also has a culture of training students to be industry-ready through applied learning, and it equipped me with skills in many areas such as critical thinking. All these skills have been particularly useful, as I need to be adaptable, think logically and be a problem solver when challenges arise at work.”
Being assigned supervisors from both DSTA and SIT under the WSDP has helped him to transit more smoothly into the workforce, added Kah Sheng. “I have benefited greatly from the guidance of my coach and mentor, who shared their technical expertise and offered advice for my university studies and career development readily.”
Opportunities abound under the WDSP and for students looking to apply for it, Kah Sheng says the key is to stay hungry for knowledge. “To get the most out of your internships, it is important to have an open mind, even if you are tasked with work that is out of your comfort zone,” he concludes, “It is also crucial to ensure that the organisation you apply to aligns with your area of interest!”
This article was adapted from the BrightSparks: Scholarship & Education 2019, Volume 2 with the permission of CareerBuilder Singapore.