Textbook to Dream Job: IWSP Helps SITizen Secure Dream Job


From textbook to construction zone, SIT graduate Loh Ken Wen’s perseverance paid off as he lands a full-time role at United Tec Construction.  

From Textbook to Dream Job

Ken Wen (left) with his supervisor, Ong Kay Quan, working on the development of a site blueprint. (SIT Photo) 

For many university graduates, transitioning from the theoretical world of textbooks to the practical demands of the workplace can be daunting. But for SITizen Loh Ken Wen, a Civil Engineering graduate, this transition was not only smooth but led to him securing his dream job even before graduation. The secret sauce? SIT's innovative Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP). 

The IWSP is a flagship feature of SIT's degree and joint-degree programmes. It allows students to undertake eight to 12 months of relevant work during their studies, bridging the gap between academia and industry, and equipping students with practical skills and real-world experience valued by employers. 

Ken Wen’s journey began when he joined United Tec Construction Pte Ltd as a site engineer during his IWSP stint. 

Initially feeling overwhelmed by the complex tasks and unfamiliar environment, he faced challenges like structural inspections, site scheduling, and communication with diverse workers. Compounding this, he also had the crucial responsibility of studying and comprehending complex blueprints, ensuring all structural elements were built according to plan. 

But for Ken Wen, these challenges weren't roadblocks; they were stepping stones. He refused to be intimidated. Instead, he adopted a "can do" attitude, diligently tackling each task daily and actively seeking guidance from his mentor, Mr Ong Kay Quan, Deputy Construction Manager of United Tec Construction. This unwavering determination, coupled with the practical learning opportunities provided by the IWSP, saw him navigating the challenges and excelling in his role. 

Ken Wen shared, “No matter how busy , he’d always take the time to go the extra mile for me. Given his wealth of experience in the industry, he never holds back in giving useful advice.” 

From Intern to Full-time Staff 

Ken Wen’s exceptional performance during his IWSP led to his conversion to a full-time employee, even before his graduation. 

Today, he is a project engineer and has moved on to bigger tasks and greater responsibilities. He is currently working on the Tembusu Grand Condominium project, which consists of four blocks of 20-storey buildings. He holds the responsibility of coordinating site inspections, ensuring structural elements are constructed according to specifications, and closely monitoring the project’s timeline to ensure delivery within the contract period.  

Ken Wen at a site visit. (SIT Photo)

Ken Wen at a site visit. (SIT Photo) 

Mr Ong, his work attachment supervisor, saw something different in him. He shared, “Ken Wen stood out from everyone else. He showed a keen interest in learning something new, even when it was beyond his job scope. I could always count on him to see through a task or project that is assigned to him.”  

Beyond Technical Skills 

Ken Wen also attributes his success to the IWSP. “Technical skills are important," he acknowledged, "but the IWSP's impact on my soft skills, like communication and teamwork, was truly invaluable. In a diverse, fast-paced environment like construction, being able to connect and collaborate effectively is key." 

He highlighted that he was also able to directly apply what he had learnt in school to real-world tasks, solidifying his understanding and building practical expertise. For example, he shared that he underwent a four-month course on Effective Communication. He found this course especially useful, given that he had to communicate with people of different nationalities and backgrounds. “Through the knowledge gained from this course, I was able to collaborate effectively with the consultant representatives to identify potential discrepancies between the on-site conditions and structural drawings, ensuring timely adjustments to maintain the project’s momentum.” 

It was also through the IWSP that he was exposed to different aspects of the construction industry, helping him to refine his career aspirations and identify skill sets he needed to focus on.  

Helping SMEs Embed Sustainability in Business
Upskilling is Not an Uphill Task