Internships open their eyes

Internships open their eyes

The polytechnics are a jewel of Singapore's education system, said PM Lee Hsien Loong at Ngee Ann Polytechnic's 50th anniversary last May.

He noted that polytechnic students have many good options after graduating and need not just aim for a university degree.

His view is shared by people in the various industries, where poly graduates are much sought after.

The Graduate Employment Survey, jointly conducted by the five polytechnics in 2012 revealed that the overall employment rate was 91 per cent.

Said senior private banker at BNP Paribas Jessica Parker: "With the polytechnics constantly keeping up with the latest developments in the industry, and lecturers putting in efforts to come up with relevant courses, I believe the current education system will equip students with the fundamental knowledge and insight about the industry.

"They will have a clearer expectation and possess the relevant skills before they join the workforce."

Another industry partner, Singapore-based low-cost carrier Scoot, has been offering internships and hiring polytechnic students as well.

"It is also a way for us to reach out to those studying the Aviation Management and Services course, who will have the aviation knowledge base that we are looking for," said Mr Dominique Loh, the communications and guest relations manager at Scoot.

"The internship programme experience has been very positive because of the diversity of work that we expose the students to - from ground-based work to those who earn their wings and fly as cabin crew (after their training as cabin crew)."

The polytechnics offer many work opportunities, which are an eye-opener and help students decide on their future careers. Goh Shi Wei, 19, a second-year Tourism and Leisure Facilities Management student at Singapore Polytechnic, went on a two-week study trip to Switzerland, a country famous for its hospitality.

"I was impressed by their passion for service. It was really from the heart, and it was a lesson that I brought back," he said.

Angeline Chong, 20, a third-year supply chain management student at Republic Polytechnic, decided that she wanted to continue to pursue her major after she interned at a transport company in Tianjin, China, for six months.

"I didn't have a real idea of the industry initially beyond the textbooks, but now I know what I am getting myself into," she said.

The polytechnics also provide many overseas opportunities which put students outside their comfort zone.

Nonetheless, the students said the stints were opportunities for personal growth and they prepared them for work and life.

For instance, Dhrue Goda, 19, said he learnt to be more resilient during a five-month attachment in New Dehli with three other students from Temasek Polytechnic's Aviation Management and Services course.

"Initially my parents were not keen on my going to India because of safety concerns. The working culture in India is also very different. But I became more independent after this experience," he said.

Cherill Peng, 23, took the opportunity to travel around Europe after her exchange at IMC Fachhochschule Krems in Austria.

"I was exposed to many different cultures through my travels and I learnt to be street smart," said Cherill, a third-year business management student at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student George Yeoh said that an internship at a research lab in Imperial College London helped grow his confidence.

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