Internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching, SMU has devoted itself to providing students with a unique educational experience. There is a myriad of opportunities for internships and exchange programmes – chances to develop not just academic skills, but also the real-world know-how required for a successful career.
Lee Kong Chian Scholar, Eugene Zhou and SMUSP Scholar, N Nachammai are proud to be SMU students. They share with us about their time at SMU, and how their experiences, along with their bond-free scholarship programmes have helped propel them towards a bright future.
What ignited your interest to pursue your degree at SMU?
Eugene Zhou: From my JC experience, I knew the traditional lecture format limited the engagement amongst students and lecturer. SMU’s pedagogy was more in line with what I wanted for my learning environment. Also, I was drawn in by the rich and vibrant student life, which offered a much needed balance to the rigorous academic work for a well-rounded education.
N Nachammai: I was attracted to SMU’s interactive pedagogy where class sizes are small and lessons are conducted in seminars instead of lectures – which maximises opportunities for in-class discussions. SMU also offers multiple avenues for international exposure, such as overseas community service projects and student exchange programmes – all of which provided me the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Eugene Zhou Weijun
Recipient of the Lee Kong Chian Scholars’ Programme
Bachelor of Business Management (Finance Major) & Bachelor of Science (Economics) graduate
Economist, Ministry of Trade & Industry
Tell us, what are the most memorable parts of being a Scholar?
Eugene: The community of driven individuals with diverse interests. I thoroughly enjoyed bouncing ideas off and learning from my peers. It helped to sharpen and refine my thoughts in the most fun manner possible.
N Nachammai: I was in the organising committee for the annual SMUSP scholars’ camp, where I got to plan and execute the orientation camp for freshmen scholars. The scholarship programme also brings students on international business study missions. I was privileged to go on a trip to Japan where we visited multi-national companies such as Toyota, Glicopia Kobe, Toshiba and even the Tokyo Stock Exchange. We also attended special networking sessions and talks with CEOs, to gain insights about running a corporation and building entrepreneurship skills.
Recipient of the SMU Scholars’ Programme
Bachelor of Accountancy & Bachelor of Business Management (Finance Major) student
How has SMU prepared you for the working world?
Eugene: Personally, I found SMU’s heavy emphasis on project work particularly important, as it helped me get used to working in a team setting. It requires finesse to solicit candid opinions and ideas, deal with disagreements, reach a genuine consensus and to bring out the full potential of the team. I also benefitted from the double degree programme which exposed me to the disciplines of both Finance and Economics. This equipped me with the necessary skill set to deal with the technical problems I face at work and I am better able to shape policies.
With a conscious effort to go beyond my comfort zone, I learnt how to overcome the fear and inertia of trying out new things and to take on new roles and responsibilities. This helped me tremendously at work, as I would not shy away from accepting daunting projects with tight timelines.
N Nachammai: All SMU students are required to undergo a 10-week internship. As for me, I have done two internships thus far. My first one as an Internal Audit Intern at A*STAR allowed me to understand how audit works in the real world. It taught me how to perform accurate reporting, be detail-oriented, develop a problem solving mentality and communicate effectively. These skills were transferrable to my second internship where I got to work in an international setting as a Summer Intern in Global Markets at BNP Paribas, Singapore.
Here, I learnt more about teamwork, project management, financial data analysis and gained leadership skills. More importantly, both internships have taught me how to be independent in solving problems, develop precision thinking skills and master the skill of working with tight deadlines and limited instructions.
Do you have any advice for future SMU students?
Eugene: It is critical that each individual carves out their own path based on their passion and aspirations. I had to go through an iterative process of trying out new things, failing, picking up new skills and self-discovery before I even caught a glimpse of my calling. So to all the undergraduates or undergraduates-to-be, do not be afraid of trying out new things.
Grab the opportunities that come your way. There will be moments when you are overwhelmed by fear and inadequacies, but do not retreat. Recognise the shortcomings, find ways to improve and get around them. In the end, it is about fulfilling your potential and becoming the best that you can be.
N Nachammai: Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things - opportunities do not knock on your door more than once. While maintaining good grades is important, having an enriching student life is just as important – although a balance might be tough to find, it will definitely be rewarding. Resources are available for those who seek, so do not hesitate to approach anyone should you need assistance for if you do not ask, you will never learn.