Given the limited land area, URA plays a vital role in balancing the need for sustainable growth with providing a quality living environment. From conserving Singapore's built heritage to shaping our iconic skyline, URA strives to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction through judicious planning.
We speak to URA scholars Yong Xin Miao and Zhang Yangfan. They tell us about their scholarship journey as well as how URA's support and structure has helped them achieve their fullest potential.
Have you always known that you wanted to help shape Singapore's built environment with URA?
Yong Xin Miao: Not exactly. It was only during my first architecture internship in the private sector after junior college that my interest in URA's work started to stir. At that time, I was working on a project that had some urban design requirements from URA. One such requirement was to implement a view corridor, which would allow the public to enjoy certain views of the city. I was impressed by this consideration and thought to myself, "Wow, this is actually considered in the larger scheme of things when shaping the urban experience!"
Zhang Yangfan: I did not know much about URA until the time when I had to decide on which university course to pursue. I was keen to major in computer science, but I also wanted a career in the public sector that would serve a bigger purpose. I heard about URA through a scholarship fair as well as from the BrightSparks website. Having researched further and after visiting areas like Bras Basah and Bugis, I was impressed by the work that URA does and I found that I could identify with its role in urban planning.
URA Overseas Scholar
How does URA support its scholars entering the organisation?
Xin Miao: URA supports us in several ways and it begins from the moment we are awarded the scholarship. For example, there is a mentorship programme where they assign a mentor, who has gone through a similar academic path, to you. I felt that this was especially beneficial because I could turn to my mentor whenever I had any queries.
After joining URA, there are also programmes in place that guide our job progression, facilitate networking and increase our understanding of the organisation. In particular, there is a programme called Urban Planning 101. Speakers from other agencies are invited to share the roles their agencies play and how their work relates to URA and vice versa. From these sessions, I have gained valuable insights on their considerations and challenges, and these help me make more informed decisions at work.
Yangfan: The internships and mentorship programme helped me get acquainted with the working environment and foster relationships with colleagues even before joining URA. Knowing that help is always at hand, coupled with the amazing support from URA, create a very comfortable and inclusive environment for me at work.
Yong Xin Miao
URA Overseas Scholar
What advice do you have for aspiring URA scholars?
Xin Miao: I think aspiring scholars should really put themselves out there, get internships and speak to as many seniors in URA as possible. This will really help them understand what their chosen career path entails and whether it is something they really want to pursue. They should also take time to fully understand where their interests lie and whether these align with URA's mission and core values.
Yangfan: There must be a willingness to serve the public. Aspiring scholars also need to understand what draws them to the URA scholarship, and whether they can genuinely identify with the organisation's values. Besides talking to seniors and doing internships, it also helps to go through the corporate website and annual reports to learn more about the organisation's work. From there, they can better ascertain whether their interests and aspirations match what URA does, and be able to make a more informed decision on taking up a scholarship.