Unlike most tertiary students, Ms Hallie Tay, who has a diploma in product design and innovation from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, made the leap to the second year of the mechanical engineering programme at the Nanyang Technological University.
But she left after a semester when she realised that she had no interest in the programme.
After having worked for a year as a sales assistant at an events set-up company, Ms Tay felt that she needed to upgrade her skills and knowledge if she was to get ahead in life.
As she was drawn to business and management, she enrolled in Management Development Institute of Singapore's (MDIS) Advanced Diploma in Business Management in 2010. She then pursued the University of Bradford's Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Accounting and Finance at MDIS.
"The course offered me the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of how accounting and finance play a part in the bigger picture of business and management and this combination, in particular, happens to be my area of interest," says Ms Tay.
A stimulating learning experience
The opportunity to interact and communicate with students from all over the world widened Ms Tay's social circle and enriched her life as a student as diverse ideas, thoughts and experiences were shared during numerous group discussions and presentations. The degree programme is from Bradford University's School of Management, which is consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the world.
The opportunity to learn from experienced professionals was one of the strengths of the programme as it offers not just textbook knowledge, but also insights shared by professors, which can only be gained through years of experience working in the real world, she says.
She shares that those in the workforce who wish to "do part-time or full-time courses to advance their careers should have a clear idea of the paths that they want to take". "Pursuing higher education can increase productivity at work and one can negotiate a better salary package with employers. It also keeps one's skills up-to-date," she adds.
A boon to her career
Ms Tay says that the programme provided "a broad-based business education with specialised knowledge in the area of accounting and finance, while also providing students a platform that enables them to identify their own strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for further development".
"The lecturers have also shared their experiences to help prepare us for rewarding careers," she adds.
Doing the programme at MDIS has helped her in finding a job fairly quickly. She had wanted a job that "offers versatility and diversification, something that is not desk-bound while also allowing me to pick up new skills".
She says: "This programme has helped me build a strong foundation in accounting and finance, giving me more career options. After my two-year course in MDIS, I decided to go into the financial sector. It did not take me long to get a job after graduating."
In June this year, the 25-year-old joined RHB Bank as a personal banker dealing with unsecured loans as a mobile banker.
"My responsibilities are identifying customers' needs, cross selling products that they need and delivering excellent customer service while complying with the regulatory framework and guidelines," she says.
"I am thankful that this job has given me many opportunities to meet different people from all walks of life, from contractors, designers, consultants to the general public.
"It has made me more vocal and open as I interact with different people every day. This job fits very well with my personality as I don't like being bound to the desk and computer for the whole day."
Ms Tay hopes to advance to the management level and ultimately achieve financial freedom with the knowledge and skills acquired along the way.
"This qualification gives me many career options. Accomplishing something gives me a tremendous sense of personal fulfilment and this keeps me going and pushes me to work even harder to overcome the next challenge," she says.
Ms Tay believes in lifelong learning as "one is never too old to learn, especially in the ever-changing world of technology, as it allows one to be independent, helping us to live consciously and deliberately".
About the programme
The Advanced Diploma in Business Management programme, which is awarded by MDIS, is available on a part-time (12 months) or full-time (8 months) basis. It is specially designed to equip participants with effective managerial skills.
Graduates of this programme can progress to the University of Bradford's business degree programmes.
The Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Accounting and Finance degree programme awarded by the University of Bradford, UK is suitable for polytechnic diploma holders. The 24- to 36-month programme provides students with a strong foundation in broad-based business education with specialised knowledge in the area of accounting and finance.
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