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Old 17-08-2019, 03:19 PM
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Would like to just contribute my two cents worth and give hope to those feeling hopeless in SIM.

I struggled with my A levels because i was taking subjects i had no interests nor flair in. I chose subjects thinking these are more commonly taken, they should open more doors for me in choosing Uni courses, overlooking that bad grades would close even more doors for me. Expectedly, I did badly for A levels and was left with SIM as my only door to University in Singapore.

Then came choosing the school and course. I chose UOL because it is supposedly the most prestigious of the lot offered by SIM. To those outside the UOL system, UOL consists top UK member institutions such as LSE, UCL and King's College London. The syllabuses, examiners and setters are professors from these partner universities. From my knowledge, business, economics and finance related degrees are curated by LSE and IT related degrees are curated by Goldsmith. This is the reason why there is a certain standard and respect in the syllabus and yet also why there is a lack thereof in the teaching in SIM. It is extremely common that the lecturers, separately engaged by SIM, themselves may be unsure of the right answers the examiners are seeking. But I will leave the standard and commitment of SIM lecturers for another discussion. Therefore it is rather similar to the times we took Cambridge examinations in local schools, where the papers are set by Cambridge. The only, but great difference is that for UOL, there is no MOE that works together with UOL to curate and understand the syllabus. As much as the student is muddling along the studying, so are the lecturers in teaching. Unlike in local Universities where the lecturers curate the syllabuses and examination questions etc where they fully understand what they want to bring across (or what they want to hint). Since I have gone through much of the local system prizing the quality of a UK branded education (Cambridge), it was natural that i chose UOL.

Again, I made the same mistake of choosing what I did not like nor was good at. Flunking papers after papers, it took me a few years to gain courage to change my course. I think most of us from SIM would know there is little guidance in choosing which University and which course. The whole UOL module selection is confusing and lacking information. It took me much much longer to finally graduate but it was long and hard. It was discouraging and draining. The worst feeling came from the fact that I was struggling in a degree that was looked down upon widely in Singapore and there was constant doubt if it was worth working so hard for something that seemed so worthless. I grew up in a an environment of scholars, and was constantly mocked & looked down on at family gatherings. It does not help that biased surveys are regularly taken and mentioned in the news for either political or the surveyors'/editors' personal agenda. Also the change in course did not make studying any easier, but it was more interesting.

You hear many people complaining how UOL sucks, all they teach is theory, it's outdated, there's no practical application etc. Yes, there is some truth to that, we do not have coursework and we are not trained to work in teams. UOL is very much an individual race. But I have to disagree that what is taught by UOL is useless. I used to think the same way, until I did a proper internship did I realise that all this theory can be applied in the real world. Whether what you learnt is being used is really only up to you and your attitude towards learning.

Do not forget, SIM is not an educational institution. It is a business. They make loads from your tuition fees. It does not matter to them how many times you fail a module since every time you retake, you pay tuition fees again. It does not really matter to them if you find a well suited job when you graduate. Yes SIM organises career fairs and has a career portal. But how many of us really secure employment through these channels? I think it speaks for itself. The onus is on you. Most SIM grads take up lower salary jobs or very unmatched jobs with the misconception that they ought to because they are second class to local grads. As long as you get a job, SIM is contented since there is employability of their grads. I know of many people who accept first jobs at bad companies with salary standards of diploma holders. Why did you go to University then? Doesn't it mean that your knowledge acquired in University = $0? Before anyone talks about not having a choice, because there is already a stigma I hope I can offer you a way out.

Here comes the most important part of this post. INTERNSHIP. I don't know how much more to stress this. Please fill your summer breaks with meaningful internships. Please look long term and not focus on the wrong things. Choose an internship that is meaningful, where you can learn and apply. Don't be blinded by well paying "internships" that does not add value to your career. Start reading up & building your career path and please know banks are not the only places to work. Your "second class" degree can boosted by good internships. Even if you cannot land an internship, take up temp jobs with reputable firms and learn as much as you can. Be proactive and maximise what you can learn, be aware of how businesses work. Ask for work. I even did OT for free everyday to help out. Even if your temp job JD was just data entry, ask how you can help and contribute your help in higher level work. No one says no to help, especially when most employees are overworked. Only then can you put in your CV more than just "data entry" and tell your interviewer how you sought work to maximise your learning.

My last piece of advice is please read the news. Not those you get from Facebook or the tabloids. It's not expensive to subscribe to the papers, you don't even have to buy/read everyday, the least you can do is thrice a week. Please do not just read crime and entertainment. Yes I know some of you may say newspapers are biased, there is propaganda etc. But it beats your ignorance on current affairs and poor presentation skills i.e. your command of English. If your degree is deemed "second class", you don't have to be a "second class" employee.

Just to put things into perspective, I did not graduate with a first class honours, heck i did not even graduate with a second upper. But i was able to compete with a room filled with local grads for a spot in a grad program, in a reputable MNC, with a competitive salary rate the same as the local grads. As for detractors, take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

I know how cliché this sounds, but your attitude really determines your career. Good luck!
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