University studies can wait

University studies can wait

Ms Michelle Qiu, 20, has bucked family expectations by putting her studies on hold as she pursues a career as an oil trader.

Despite scoring straight As for her A-level examinations in 2011, the Raffles Girls' and Raffles Junior College alumnus passed up offers from a top college in the United States and a local university.

Ms Qiu said literature was her favourite subject. But she gave up the chance to study liberal arts in the US for a shot at an internship with an oil trading firm.

"I worked as a part-time waitress during the eight-month break before the college term opens when someone offered me an internship at a bunker oil trading firm," she said. "While many have heard of the oil trading industry, not many know what goes on in it. So I thought, why not?"

Ms Qiu started her internship doing administrative jobs but that was enough to pique her interest.

At the time, the firm was looking for a new hire, which allowed Ms Qiu to get a full-time position.

But the next step proved tough as she had to tell her parents that their eldest daughter would not be going to college as planned.

"My parents are the traditional sort who believed that I should get my degree before working full-time, so they were naturally concerned," she said.

"But I'm quite stubborn and told them that I'm still young and can further my studies a few years later if this doesn't work out."

Eventually, they relented and gave Ms Qiu their full support.

But her stay with her employer was short-lived as another opportunity emerged: cargo oil trading.

Since June, Ms Qiu has been an oil trader with Horizon Oil, which deals with the physical trading of crude oil, fuel oil and gas oil.

"There's so much to learn from my colleagues who know how to recommend the right oil blends for the customers," she explains. "And I look forward to executing my first trade."

Being an oil trader is a job that requires Ms Qiu to be on standby 24/7 as any potential deal will require the team's attention.

But that hasn't stopped her pursuing her other interests and hobbies. These include championing animal rights as well as modelling. Ms Qiu was recently crowned the first runner-up at the Miss Singapore Global competition, where contestants get to speak up on a cause.

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