By the Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre
While many associate Bangkok with its captivating cultural landmarks and bustling streets, the city holds a unique memory for SMU undergraduate Han Jia Yuan. Immersed in a User Experience (UX) Designer internship, Jia Yuan embarked on a professional development journey that would leave a lasting impact for years to come.
As a third-year student at the SMU School of Computing and Information Systems, Jia Yuan grew interested in UX design and sought to gain hands-on experience in the field. Eager to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, he seized the opportunity to take up an internship through the SMU ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) with Appservation Co., Ltd in Thailand as a UX designer.
Translating knowledge to action
The AIP exposed Jia Yuan to the ins-and-outs of working in a professional environment and gave him the opportunity to witness UX development being carried out on real life projects.
During his internship, Jia Yuan’s day-to-day role was to conduct user research and usability testing to understand how users interacted with the start-up company’s mobile application. From there, the UX workflow that he had learnt about in the classrooms of SMU came to life. Concepts turned into application and lectures were translated into real collaboration in the workplace.
The internship was also Jia Yuan’s first exposure to the Agile workflow — a modern project management methodology that breaks projects into smaller individual cycles and actively engages customers in the product development process. Beyond the practical and professional insights gained, the methodology underscored the importance of empathy in understanding and implementing user feedback within the Agile workflow.
Working in the fast-paced start-up environment gave Jia Yuan plenty of opportunities to learn on-the-go. Having played a key role in the revamp of the company’s app design, the internship had allowed Jia Yuan to accumulate many new and valuable experiences.
Forging friendships in new places
Jia Yuan built many deep and meaningful friendships with his Thai colleagues (left) and fellow SMU interns (right).
In addition to gaining professional insights, Jia Yuan eagerly anticipated the rich cultural experiences Bangkok had to offer. “It’s an incredible opportunity for me to grow professionally and immerse myself in a vibrant new cultural environment at the same time,” he shared. Additionally, the prospect of living independently excited him, as it pushed him to step out of his comfort zone to pursue personal growth during the internship.
A core memory of the internship was made when he and his fellow SMU interns travelled to Pattaya City, during which the group shared their experiences in the diverse internship roles they had taken on – against the backdrop of Pattaya’s stunning beaches.
As Jia Yuan embraced the newfound independence, he was at the same time surrounded by the supportive network made up of his friendly Thai colleagues and helpful fellow SMU interns. Beyond expanding his professional network, he had forged lasting friendships away from home.
Witnessing ASEAN’s potential
Beyond the practical, industry-specific skill sets, the AIP offered Jia Yuan a broader global career perspective. “Gaining insights into the region’s political, economic and social landscapes will prove invaluable in securing future roles,” Jia Yuan shared.
Reflecting on his internship, Jia Yuan said, “The past few months of interning in Bangkok exposed me to the immense potential of working in ASEAN. The region’s unique blend of cultures and emerging markets made the ASEAN Internship Programme a perfect avenue for professional growth and career development. Every SMU student should seize this chance for a transformative experience!”
The ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) is part of the offerings provided by Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC) to encourage students to build up an international network and be Global Citizens. Learn more about the programme and apply for a Summer AIP via OnTRAC II now.