All entries for Tuesday 23 October 2018
October 23, 2018
So much has happened since I last updated my blog. Besides sitting for my penultimate year exams, I got work experience in the form of summer internships, and also travelled to a couple of places. This summer was rather unique as I spent time not only back home with friends and family, but also in London, and that was quite the experience! It was also a summer of many firsts for me.
Firstly, I did a month-long internship with Tolaram Group at their HQ in Singapore, under the Group Finance Manager, Sampada. Truly a global conglomerate, they manage 19 brands and have business in 75 companies, ranging from industries like FMCG, real estate, textiles, and even financial services. This was a truly enriching experience, as it was my first work experience besides army and teaching tuition to younger kids, and also one that was a lot more aligned with my career plans. The bulk of the work I did with Tolaram Group came from learning how to analyze the accounts of Tolaram group's subsidiary companies, and it was fascinating to see the things that I learn in university being employed practically in the working world.
However, it was not all work and no play - beyond doing birthday celebrations every last Friday of the month, Tolaram Group also invited everyone to watch a football match live (Arsenal vs PSG) as a company cohesion event. As it was my first time ever watching a match, you can only imagine how excited I was to attend with my colleagues. Needless to say, we had a great time and it was definitely an event to remember!
My next internship was in London, with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), an education technology company. They are known globally for releasing the annual QS university rankings, something that I myself referred to extensively while deciding which university to apply to. As such, it felt really satisfying to do an internship with them - in my time there, I understood what other services they provide, besides just having a platform for rankings. As a company that is committed to helping motivated people achieve their fullest potential through educational achievement and career mobility, I can entirely relate to their mission and as such, it was highly meaningful to have worked there. The bulk of the work I did came from producing a business development report regarding the restructuring of their sales divisions, and the subsequent ramifications to the company. Being personally mentored by the COO of the company, Peter MacDonald, was an eye-opening experience as I got the unique opportunity of shadowing him at meetings with other heads of departments as well as the CEO. For a company with a massive annual revenue of £20 million, I expected much more of a hierarchical structure, but that was not my experience when I was there, and I am really thankful for that. I can safely say that everyone in my team (and even those in other teams) took it upon themselves to welcome me and make me feel at home during my month at QS.
Across both internships, I believe that what I learnt and applied the most was how important it was to work in a team - I realized that even if one person in a team slips up, someone else in the team is usually there to pick up the slack. by building this atmosphere of encouragement, there is no leaving anybody behind and everyone grows and develops together. It was also beautiful to see that employers cared for the employees beyond just whatever work is done in the office, and instead took the effort to bond with each other outside of office hours. Furthermore, it was enlightening to speak to people who were very far into their careers, and to hear their piece on how I should approach my own career. It was also insightful to hear from them what they would have done differently, given a choice - it forced me to question and reconsider my own career plans.
My brother also graduated this summer from National University of Singapore (NUS), obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy! My family and I could not be more proud of him for blazing the trail when it comes to education, and in more ways than one, he has been a role-model figure to me as well.
When I attended his graduation ceremony, and listened to him talk about his career plans, it inspired me to get my own plans in shape too. It was also an excellent exercise in visualizing my own graduation ceremony, and how I want to feel when I get there.
I have also been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to travel quite a bit this past year. Visiting friends in new places has always been an exciting prospect for me, and this time, I visited Bath and Bristol in the UK. In Bath, besides the beautiful old buildings, we also visited the eponymous Bath Spa - with 8 different rooms and different effects in each one of them, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Bristol, we visited the Clifton Suspension bridge - situated 75m above ground, it was built in 1864, and still stands sturdy as a toll bridge, an incredible feat, and an iconic sign native to Bristol.
Right before the academic term began, I also attended the Summer President's Meeting (SPM) in Glasgow, Scotland, in the capacity of Local Committee President of AIESEC in Warwick. This was amazing as it gave me the opportunity to catch up with my buddies from other universities who have gone through the same obstacles as me over summer - ultimately it gave me an avenue to release stress and reflect on my experience.
Recently, Iffah, Hayati and myself were also invited for a photoshoot by the Warwick Scholars' Programme for the official website - there could not have been a better way to mark this milestone, the end of second year. I'm really excited to have Jade with us in the next photoshoot.
Now that I'm back at Warwick for my third, and final year, I find myself reflecting a lot more on my time in the UK - I've made tons of new friends, gained a new perspective towards higher education abroad, and also managed to expand my worldview (and of course, tick some items off the bucket list) through travelling! But I've also learnt a lot about my own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and that has been an invaluable experience.
Within the first few days of being back at Warwick, Iffah, Hayati and myself arranged to meet Jade for a quick dinner amidst settling back into our routines. While it was a quick dinner, it felt so satisfying to catch up and hear the interesting stories that everyone had to share from their summer! I also find myself looking upon the younger scholars with much pride and reminiscence when I hear their thrilling plans for the year ahead - having been in their shoes before, I'm more than happy to help give advice and tips as and when necessary.
That being said, I am definitely looking forward to making the most of my last year at university - I cannot wait to see how this year will unfold, and what new experiences this year will bring me.