With star-studded events such as the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and gourmet events like the Singapore Food Festival, there is always something for everyone in Singapore. Successfully executed events like these which promote Singapore on an international stage are by no means a happenchance, in fact, they are meticulously curated by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and its partners.
Since its inception in 1964, the STB has, through its extensive network of partnerships and strategic marketing efforts, positioned Singapore as the premier travel destination and vibrant melting pot of Asia. If a progressive and dynamic working environment with opportunities to grow professionally piques your interest, then a scholarship with STB might just be for you.
We speak to Samantha Lau and Gabriel Nio, both STB scholars and former undergraduate students at United College London. They share with us about their enthralling scholarship journey and the opportunities they have received as STB scholars.
What spurred you to pursue a scholarship with STB?
Samantha Lau: I have always been interested in the arts, entertainment and heritage scenes in Singapore, and STB seemed to be the best place where I could play a tangible role in shaping their future direction. From the STB scholars I spoke to at talks and fairs, I also felt I could relate to them the most in terms of personality and their outlook in their work.
Gabriel Nio: As I was reading up on the work STB does, I learnt that a lot of it goes beyond just promoting Singapore as a tourism destination. In fact, a lot of the work is done at a deeper level with industry partners to develop and shape the tourism landscape as a whole. Its work also struck me as being out-of-the-box and clever. I knew that I wanted to be part of such a creative, dynamic and challenging work environment.
East Asian Studies student at Stanford University
Share with us what motivated you to pursue your academic pursuits abroad.
Samantha: STB has given me much freedom to pursue my interests and have been supportive of my decisions. For my undergraduate studies, I chose to study History at University College London (UCL). The United Kingdom was always the first choice for me because it is itself steeped in history, culture, and art – especially in cosmopolitan London – and this colourful and diverse environment certainly enriched my studies in the classroom. After 3 years in London, I was ready for a change and decided on Stanford University to pursue a masters in East Asian Studies. The American academic system and campus life is wildly different from city life in the UK, but the experience so far has been absolutely refreshing.
Gabriel: I pursued my undergraduate degree in Economics at University College London, and I am currently doing my master’s degree in Political Science at Columbia University. I have always been very drawn to large, cosmopolitan cities and I believe that a big plus factor in studying abroad comes from the learning experiences you gain from outside the classroom. Both London and New York are global capitals in practically every field, from politics to culture, and I enjoy being constantly exposed to all these happenings.
Political Science student at Columbia University
What are some of the memorable opportunities you have received as an STB scholar?
Samantha: I had the opportunity to do a two-month summer language programme in Japan to supplement my studies in Japanese history and more broadly regional East Asia. Having to use the language on a daily basis helped improve my fluency immensely and gave me more exposure and confidence to interact with native speakers. I hope to be able to use this language skill in my future work with Japanese partners or in STB’s regional offices.
During my STB internship, I also had opportunities to do site visits for my work on Chinatown and to speak to our stakeholders, from hostel managers to museum curators and heritage experts.
Gabriel: One of my more memorable experiences was when the STB team in London invited me to join them on a project they had been working on to promote the culinary scene in Singapore. Instead of doing the usual food fair as one might expect, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had partnered with a London-based company to do a Singapore-themed immersive dining experience, complete with characters such as a colonial-era British explorer hiding from a tiger to a Peranakan matriarch ordering her daughter-in-law around!
Any advice for those exploring their scholarship options?
Samantha: I would say look for a scholarship that would allow you a good culture fit with the organisation. It is difficult to judge when you have not had the chance to see the nuts and bolts within, but talk to as many people as possible, ask honest questions, and see if you can imagine yourself in that position in three to four years’ time.
Gabriel: Be sure that you choose an agency that you can see yourself working at for the duration of the bond at least! Read up on the work they actually do and base your judgement on that rather than a general impression of the agency. If you are sure about it, then grab the opportunity if you can. I was fortunate enough to be given such an opportunity to study abroad, live in two incredible cities and really see the world (or parts of it at least!). It has been an extremely amazing and enriching experience that I would not trade for anything else.