My Extraordinary University Life
BSc Business and Management graduate Evelyn Ong explains how embracing extra-curricular activities enabled her to gain important communication and teamwork skills.
“The first step is always the hardest, but once you start going, things will get easier from then on.”
I used to doubt the credibility of this saying, as it looked as hard to believe as it sounds. Going through different life stages as I grew up, school was not easy, neither was adulting. Despite this, the three years of my university life has exposed me to understanding this quote from a different angle.
My student life generally revolved around multiple commitments such as academics and taking part in competitions as part of my club activities and internships. While having multiple things on hand may sound hard to juggle, the fact is, once you experience it, it is not as hard as you think.
I recalled when I first stepped into the Singapore Institute of Management and was exposed to a foreign and scary environment, I had only one aim and that was to work hard and focus on doing well in school to land me a decent job upon graduation. However, seeing my peers around me having a clear aim of what they wanted out of their university life urged me to think about what I wanted to achieve during my three years. I hoped to make the fullest out of my flexible timetable and to prepare myself for the work industry.
I learnt that communication and teamwork is what many companies value in their candidates.
As a result, I mustered the courage to visit the co-curricular activities fair and was approached by seniors who introduced me to the variety of clubs. They were able to relate to my concerns and encouraged me to try out club activities to help me gain a better idea of my interests and make like-minded friends in the process. I decided to give it a shot after some thought, and it turned out to be a blessing.
Joining CCAs, competitions and workshops both in school and outside school helped me with my self-expression, as I was given opportunities to network with industry professionals and build on my soft skills. I learnt that communication and teamwork is what many companies value in their candidates. I managed to step out of my comfort zone to try out different roles which I could never have imagined, such as taking on several leadership roles, emceeing during career fairs, club recruitments and onboarding events which involved audience groups larger than 50.
Two of the biggest takeaways from my time at university was to say yes to new experiences and to persevere till you see progress. Because I said “yes”, it landed me a role as HR director in my CCA, a promotion to Cluster Leader during my internship within a short span of two months, and attaining the 1st runner-up position in the SIM Business Case Competition. It signified to me that, as long as I persevered and was willing to put in effort, I would be able to see the fruits of my labour.
One tip I can give to current students would be always plan ahead as it helps you to set a clear aim and timeline.
One tip to pull through a busy schedule is to allocate time. Nevertheless, it has added value and brightened up my university days, and to me that is definitely worth my time and effort. Looking back, the most memorable moments were not the mugging and studying sessions, nor was it my final results. They were the valuable friendships forged and the memories made from the variety of exposure I had. It is easy to be distracted by a colourful student life or simply just wanting to have fun, but one tip I can give to current students would be always plan ahead as it helps you to set a clear aim and timeline.
As I reflect back on the past three years of my university life, starting out was tough. But take heart – it definitely gets easier as we grow in the process of learning. Continue to persevere and you will eventually see your hard work pay off.
Evelyn Ong [main image: pictured back row, third from left] was formerly a student at Tampines Junior College. During her undergraduate studies in the BSc Business and Management programme of the University of London, she was active in both internal and external business competitions such as the SIM Investment and Networking Club (HR Director), Student Representative Council (Student Initiatives Committee, Senior Member) and the Talent Development Programme (Cluster Leader). It was not surprising that she was awarded the SIM EDGE Award which recognised her cumulative achievements in her learning journey. The EDGE Award is a prestigious certificate developed in partnership with employers to formally recognise the skills and attributes student leaders have attained.