Insights from an Insider: Charmaine Lim

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team 

In 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down global borders, SMU students collaborated with i-India, a non-governmental organisation working with vulnerable women and children in less fortunate areas of Jaipur, India. Charmaine Lim, a School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS) student, leapt at the opportunity to be part of a team to lead a donation drive to gift the children with stationery, clothing and sports equipment.

She also personally took charge of English, basic Maths, and later, basic financial literacy and simple computer skills classes for the women and children.

It was not something she had thought she’d do, going into SMU. She says, “As a freshman, I was rather reserved and introverted, only speaking up when spoken to, and focused only on my scholastic achievements.

“However, being immersed in the SMU environment – where my peers are all learning to be confident, articulate speakers, and participating in clubs have motivated me to become a more well-rounded student.”


Hi Charmaine, please tell us about student life and CCAs at SMU.

Student life at SMU is especially vibrant, with a myriad of different clubs and programmes to take part in. Currently, I am with SMU .Hack as its Professional Development Director. My role is training me to communicate effectively in the workplace, as well as to be more adaptable to changing circumstances.


What is a module that has left a great impact on you?

Object-oriented Programming, which taught me the Java programming language and the object-oriented programming paradigm – all key skills that employers look out for in fresh grads! The module not only honed my technical skills through its programming-heavy nature, it also sharpened my communication skills through the consistent liaising and sync-ups that were required with our client.


What, in your opinion, are some uniquely SMU experiences?

Two-day school weeks! SMU’s timetable system is clean and simple, and students enjoy quite a bit of flexibility when planning their modules to avoid unnecessary and awkward breaks in-between classes, or going to school just for an hour-long tutorial. This has given me a lot more time to explore other interests and engage in activities outside of school.


“As an SMU student, I’ve learned to articulate my opinions and thought processes succinctly, giving me more presence in the workplace and helping me collaborate with others in a more effective manner.”


Tell us about working at TikTok, and how SMU has helped you to stand out in this role.

As an iOS engineering intern at TikTok, I work on improving the messaging feature of the app. As an engineer working closely with many different teams in a fast-paced environment, I liaise with multiple engineers to clarify, inform and enquire.

Coming from SMU, I’ve learnt to articulate my opinions and thought processes succinctly, giving me more presence in the workplace and helping me collaborate with others in a more effective manner.


How has SMU challenged you both personally and academically?

SMU has instilled in me greater self-confidence and a love for interacting with people. The interdisciplinary and rigorous Information Systems curriculum has also allowed me to broaden my skill set and overall, I feel I am now equipped with both hard and soft skills, all of which are equally important for me to excel in my future career.


If you could go back in time, what would you advise your freshman self to do?

To reach out and talk to more people. I’d advise my freshman self to be more curious, to actively seek knowledge, information and insights from those who have experience in areas that interest me, and to form more meaningful connections with like-minded people who can inspire me to do better. Most importantly, to be less afraid of failure and take on new challenges outside of my comfort zone.