From the classroom to the workplace: Jamie Tan

How hands-on industry experience has shaped SMU students (Part 1)

By Kritika Lohumi, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

A key part of SMU’s unique undergraduate programme, indubitably leading to our strong graduate employment outcomes, was the pioneering of the compulsory internship policy. All SMU students complete at least 10 weeks of an internship with more than half doing between two and six internships throughout their four years.

SMU was the first university in Singapore to institute this because we recognised from the outset the invaluable benefits of exposure to real working life. Internships serve to enhance clarity in terms of future career prospects by providing a real-world perspective of the workings of the industry. Through internships, students also have the opportunity to establish extensive business networks, often leading to job offers before graduation.

Who better to tell you about the merits and learning value of internships than the students themselves? In this three-part series which focuses on how internships benefit students, we have gathered the diverse internship experiences of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business students. To start off, we hear from Jamie Tan who interned at NACLI.


Jamie Tan Shi Kai, Year 4    |    Bachelor of Business Management

Major: Marketing & Strategic Management

In 2012, Jamie interned at People’s Association’s National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) division as a Business Development Intern.

As a Business Development Intern, I was assigned to help develop a new programme at the division. Developing a new programme was not an easy task, as it required putting together detailed proposals and collaterals, as well as formulating a unique concept that would appeal to Management, the public and the employees themselves. Throughout my short 10 weeks with NACLI, I was able to interact with colleagues from different divisions to understand the existing business model better.

Gradually, I helped to develop a new concept for the programme, designed collaterals and put the different ideas together. I also had the chance to liaise with external parties in the same industry, which greatly aided in developing our new programme. At the end of my internship, I was given the opportunity to present the proposal, together with my manager, to the Director of NACLI.

How SMU prepared Jamie for the workplace

The Finishing Touch module provided me with the necessary and relevant skills to perfect the writing of my resume and cover letters, and also in preparation for interviews. In terms of the curriculum and pedagogy, SMU encourages students to actively participate in class, and this nurtured my ability to present ideas and actively engage in discussions. Moreover, the various projects that students have to undertake in each module serve as great learning opportunities for me. My SMU experience has shaped me to become one who is able to manage work amidst the heavy workload every semester. This enabled me to prioritise my work during my internship, and trained me to be focused on accomplishing tasks to the best of my ability.

Benefits of the internship 

Learning from classes and textbooks can only provide us with theoretical knowledge. As an intern, I had the chance to apply what I have learnt in a real firm. This helped to enhance my understanding of the industry because I was able to learn, hands-on, the different requirements of the industry, and was able to make a direct impact on the company and its programmes. All of these gave me valuable exposure and knowledge that I would not have gained through textbooks, notes and classes.

The best things about my internship were the responsibilities that I was entrusted with. Before I started my internship, I heard many stories about how interns are often hired to do tedious tasks like data entry and other administrative work. However, the responsibilities I had at NACLI allowed me to utilise the knowledge I obtained from SMU and apply it in a meaningful way.

Even though my internship was not with a huge company, my experience in NACLI has greatly changed my perspective about my career and my future. Before my internship experience, people around me were psyched about the prospect of working in huge companies in the future, and naturally I was one of them. After my internship experience, I began to view my career path differently. I started thinking about what I was good at, and what I liked to do. Instead of following the conventional route after graduation, my internship has taught me to take a step back to find myself again and I am thankful for the opportunity to have realised that before it is too late.

As a student about to graduate from SMU, I now understand the importance of choosing the right path for myself, and not blindly following the path that is chosen by everyone else.