An avid car enthusiast, SIT graduate Sean Loo Boon Wee is well on his way towards his dream career as an automotive journalist – made possible by honing his craft while in SIT.
Sean Loo’s parents had an interesting way of fuelling his love for cars. Rather than expanding his toy car collectibles, they used to buy the then five-year-old Sean local car magazines from the petrol station or provision shops so that he could marvel at the photos.
What caught his eye over the years was not just the pictures of the trendiest cars, but also the words. He loved reading the articles in magazines such as Motoring Magazine and Top Gear Singapore written by seasoned automotive journalists, and aspired to be one.
“I knew from young that I cannot thrive in a desk-bound job, so reviewing cars and writing on the go sounded perfect,” shared Sean. “As a boy, I was also dying to drive. I spent my 18th birthday registering for my driver’s licence." He cleared his driving test in the soonest possible time.
Reviewing the latest cars in the automotive market was the dream job that Sean had envisioned since young. (Photo: Sean Loo)
Whilst in national service, Sean discovered SIT’s newly launched Digital Communications and Integrated Media (DCIM) programme. Although he was already matriculated into a different SIT degree programme, he knew he had to follow his heart. Making the switch would give him an easier entry into the automotive media industry.
Realising his Dreams, One Step at a Time
When he began his studies in DCIM, Sean was already freelancing with two car publications from the UK, DriveTribe and Car Throttle. After two trimesters, he applied for a marketing internship with Motorist Singapore. Sean, who holds a diploma in digital film and television from Temasek Polytechnic, curated editorial content and assisted their video production team with ideation and content creation. Having established a working relationship, Sean asked if he could write for them on a freelance basis. They agreed, so he wrote car reviews and other car-related articles for a year.
A self-professed workaholic, Sean is not one to rest on his laurels. He said: “I figured that since my DCIM degree programme is over three years, I might as well use the time to build my work portfolio and have something to show at the end of it.” Truly a self-starter, Sean has been working part-time since he was 14. He credited his enterprising nature to the time in his life when he was a student photographer who wanted more camera equipment. The best way to fund his photography hobby was to earn the money himself.
When it was time to embark on his eight-month Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) in 2022, Sean sought a job referral from a friend. He approached Ignition Labs, the parent company of several online publications in the automotive industry. He wrote for them for two months before being unexpectedly bumped into an editor role due to a vacancy.
His time at Ignition Labs was a blast. He received his first work-travel opportunity to Cha-Am, 20 km north of Hua Hin in Thailand, where Harley Davidson organised their inaugural moto-music festival, Asia Harley Days. On his first solo overseas work trip, Sean got to ride on a Harley Davidson bike behind the Asia Pacific boss, took photos and reported on the event. He recounted: “This was my first time in a convoy of more than 100 bikes. It was truly eye-opening!”
Sean on a work trip to Cha-Am, Thailand in 2022. (Photo: Sean Loo)
Back in Singapore, Sean, now 25, learned to network with professionals in the automotive industry. At first, he found it challenging due to his relatively young age. As he grew more comfortable and confident in his role, he built trust with brands who began sending projects his way.
His current full-time editor role at Ignition Labs also requires him to manage other writers. It took some adjustments for Sean to manage their writing styles and give constructive feedback, especially with writers who were older than him.
Maximising Full Potential at SIT
While managing both study and work commitments, Sean took on active roles in various co-curricular activities that aided in his self-development. In his three years at SIT, Sean joined the executive committees of the SIT Adventure Club, Golf Club and DCIM Student Management Committee (SMC). He was also a SITizen Ambassador who helped to organise events for the general student body.
As the president of the DCIM SMC, Sean was the primary liaison between the student body, faculty and SIT's Student Life Division (SLD). He also represented his course mates during talks and meetings with other student leaders, SLD staff and working professionals. His biggest takeaway from his role was how to communicate professionally and put across his points with tact, something that was useful when dealing with mature employees at work.
His abilities impressed his bosses at Ignition Labs so much that Sean was offered a permanent position midway into his IWSP, which he gladly accepted. When he returned to SIT for the last trimester of his final year in 2023, Sean continued juggling full-time work, studies and other co-curricular responsibilities.
Having joined the workforce well before his graduation, Sean said the modules on personal communication – particularly personal branding and web analytics – have been most applicable. Building a strong personal brand has been instrumental in securing opportunities for Sean, especially in such a niche industry, and churning out weekly reports to management has been made easier due to his working knowledge of web analytics.
Sean Loo (with his family members) at the SIT graduation ceremony held at the Mediacorp Theatre on 11 October. Sean belongs to the pioneer cohort of the DCIM degree programme. (Photo: Sean Loo)
He is grateful to his professors for being flexible and understanding towards students like him who capitalised on full-time work opportunities while studying.
Sean believes that DCIM students should determine their career paths as early as possible. He added: “It’s better to start your academic journey with a goal in mind. There’s a broad spectrum of job roles that a DCIM graduate can do, but this means that you might be unfocused in your strategy if you are undecided. The clearer you are on your eventual goal, the easier it is to create for yourself a stepping stone from SIT into the career of your choice.”