Living life on your own terms
Abraham Low, a BSc Management and Digital Innovation graduate who studied at SIM, reflects on his student experience as he graduates this year.
COVID-19 has accelerated the proliferation of the digital economy – digitalisation and digital transformation are core and central activities in this decade. The digital world is pervasive, you’re probably interfacing with some digital technology to access this article. Wouldn't you agree that now is the best time to get on board for a digital competency upgrade?
I am not sure about you, but I wake up each day imagining a world where experiences between what is virtual and what is reality are mixed – definitely not one where throngs of the infamous virus abound.
Imagine augmented reality glasses that amplify and spot these miniscule critters, so that we can just dodge them, brilliant don't you think? I believe the socio-technical perspective taught during my degree cultivates our ability to complement human experiences with advancing technology. That way we can make our imaginations an innovative new reality.
A fan of Coursera and Skillshare? Well, they are great sites for micro certification and digital skill upgrades. Looking for something more mainstream, i.e. a three-year undergraduate programme? Look no further, sign up with the University of London (UoL) programmes. The marketing ends (here), read on for my personal experience.
The BSc Management and Digital Innovation programme was aligned to my passions and fascination for innovation and technology.
While growing up, I have always been fascinated with innovative products and technology, it is something that gets me excited. Being passionate about web design, gaming, media and photography, I realised all of these were skill sets and part of any individual's digital toolkit.
Why did I study with the UoL? Simply the flexible programme and an amazing virtual learning environment. It was timely that the BSc Management and Digital Innovation degree programme was available, it was aligned to my passions and fascination for innovation and technology.
Initially, I believed my lacklustre A level results would mean a lack of options, especially since I desired for a programme and student life experience at a particular local university in Singapore. That did not mean that the UoL programme offered at SIM was a choice ranked low on my list. I was also looking for a period in my life where I could create an environment to enhance myself continuously. Thus, the programme met my criteria of being ‘flexi-centric’, meaning that it enabled time and flexibility for me to pursue a career and education concurrently.
This way, I attended two schools, the ‘school of hard knocks’, brought about by learning experiences in the workplace, and the school of higher learning being SIM-UoL – designed for individuals with busy full-time careers, as the courses offered were methodologically put together with a consideration for complex schedules in mind.
Away with self-limiting beliefs! Take my experience as one of many examples of balancing both work and school. Believe in yourself and you are halfway there. Don’t let your self-limiting beliefs stop you from achieving the best version of yourself. If you want to work and study, give it a shot and plan your time well. You’ll be able to do it.
I stayed on after my internship ended and secured a contract role with the same company. This eventually culminated in a full-time position upon graduation.
In 2018, five months before the summer break began in my freshmen year, I started my search for an internship. I felt I needed the time to digest and figure out what all of the jargon on the various job descriptions meant, as well as participate in the many virtual and face-to-face workshops offered by UoL and SIM, so as to pick up the skills to land a job.
Three dozen applications and 11 interviews later, I eventually landed my desired position as a Technology Analyst Intern at a local SME. At that point, I had completed the examinations for most of the introductory modules in the degree programme. I felt apprehension, but mostly excitement, because I was looking forward to applying what I had learnt.
I was so thankful that the modules were thoughtfully put together – it helped me to acclimatise to the business lingo and adapt to the jargon. Eight working days was all it took. I also gained a sense of confidence, as I was soon tasked with meeting a client with a senior colleague on day 7. During the meeting, I was able to assist with requirements gathering and preparation of the documentation. The programme gave me a high level appreciation of the multiple facets of the digital and technological worlds, as well as some entry-level technical skills. It enabled me to liaise with software engineers and management professionals.
A month into the job, coupled with some advanced reading of next term’s materials via the Virtual Learning Environment, I was given the opportunity to take on a small project. I stayed on after my internship ended and secured a contract role with the same company, specialising in Digital Innovation. This eventually culminated in a full-time position upon graduation.
I came to realise that success is not attained by circumstances but by choice, and – importantly – opportunities come to those who seek responsibilities. The first small step is being responsible for your own learning. It is not about luck, but creating opportunities and living life on your own terms. You must be thinking at this point that my student life was all work and no play. However, I was able to participate in many extracurricular activities.
I relished each opportunity to play captain’s ball with a group of friends whom I met at the freshmen’s orientation, when I wasn’t at work or when I’d finished my revision for the day. We enjoyed many afternoons playing the sport and this eventually led me to playing competitively in two inter-college games.
I remember the countless study sessions with diverse groups of friends hailing from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.
This is a note of encouragement to fellow introverts. While I believe myself to be one, it didn’t stop me from being open-minded, and hearing the diversity of others’ thoughts and perspectives. It led me to develop many meaningful friendships with those I crossed paths with. Life on campus can be vibrant if you willingly put yourself into the unknown. There are student bazaars, arcade games, cultural experiences, forums, networking sessions with industry professionals, and many more events to immerse yourself in if you allow yourself too! It is not uncommon to see many student clubs with their recruitment booths set up, welcoming you to join them.
I met like-minded individuals like Chun Leong while we were waiting to consult our UK professor regarding a concept we both wanted some clarification on. He said to me, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. That resonated with me.
I remember the countless study sessions with diverse groups of friends hailing from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, the informal peer mentorships that I initiated, and most importantly the camaraderie. It made my learning experience that much more enjoyable, and indeed my peers and I have all made it further together (as Chun Leong said). Some of us have started businesses while in school, some have received conditional offers for a master’s, and we also celebrate those who have secured employment despite the pandemic (with safety precautions).
More recently, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a virtual internship programme organised by Bright Network UK. Through it, I made friends from Canada, Mauritius, London and China.
To conclude, it is okay to feel unsure about where your choices lead you. The best part about life is figuring it out with the opportunities that you make for yourself, and enjoying the process. Don’t fake it till you make it, have faith till you make it!