Student-to-Student: Preparing Yourself to Survive the Real World After Graduation

By the SMU Social Media Team

University education plays a big part in equipping students with essential skills and knowledge as they enter the workforce, but how do you make the best and most of your university years to navigate the real world like a pro? For Bachelor of Business Management alumnus Daniel Guo, his time at Singapore Management University (SMU) provided him with not just a solid foundation in his chosen field of work, it also developed in him crucial skills which remain useful in the workplace even after graduation.


Daniel receiving his degree certificate at the 2015 SMU Commencement Ceremony


His initial decision to enrol in SMU was heavily influenced by its teaching pedagogy and well-structured programmes. In particular, SMU’s highly interactive classes, which emphasise project presentations and class participation, greatly appealed to Daniel’s outgoing personality. “The nature of SMU’s seminar-style teaching made me feel engaged, and that encouraged me to prepare well for class in order to actively participate in the discussions,” he explains.

While the heavy emphasis placed on public speaking may seem intimidating and in some cases, forced, the presentation skills which he picked up as a result of it has proven to be extremely useful in the working world. “Being able to present clearly and succinctly without allowing nerves to get the better of you is crucial in the workplace,” Daniel says. “I recall having to present up to 10 times per semester; SMU definitely provides a safe training ground for students to develop this skillset.”

In addition to the characteristic teaching style, SMU provides a good theoretical background for students to get a good grasp of how the corporate world functions. In particular, Daniel cites the Ethics and Corporate Responsibility and the Capstone modules as courses that he particularly enjoyed. Exploring moral and ethical dilemmas, and how they can be applied in the corporate setting, provided a good balance to the more technical courses taken as part of his Business major requirements, and contributed to his holistic and well-rounded educational experience at SMU.

As a university with a strong culture of active participation in internships, there is no lack of opportunities for exposure to the professional world at SMU. On the usefulness of such experiences in preparing students for the real world, Daniel elaborates: “Internships provide students with a glimpse of the job scope of a future career path, and allow them to see whether the job is a good fit for them.”

And he certainly made the most out of his internships, completing three finance-related internships, one of which was a coveted position in esteemed firm Goldman Sachs. That particular internship helped cement Daniel’s interest in a career in finance, paving the way towards his current position as an Associate with the firm’s Investment Banking division.

On top of managing school work, Daniel was also actively involved in various extra-curricular clubs, where he was engaged in a variety of activities, from organising fitness classes and events for the student body as part of SMU FitnessWorks, to supporting fellow students by working with SMU’s Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre as part of the student-led SMU Career Champions.

He also seized opportunities to venture beyond Singapore, embarking on summer and semester-long exchange programmes, an overseas community service project and even an Investment Banking conference held in Hong Kong. According to Daniel, heading overseas is a prime opportunity to pick up a new language, and be able to practise it extensively in a foreign land. This becomes another bonus skillset to bring to the workplace.

While balancing academic commitments alongside other activities may be a heavy workload, the challenge is worthwhile for Daniel. “Networking, interacting and working with a diverse group of people, and time management, are just some of the skills and valuable experiences that can be extracted from these extra-curricular activities and applied to the real working world,” he enthuses.

Ultimately, what you take away from your university experience is what you make of it. “Have as much fun as possible and worry less about academic results, hard as it may be,” Daniel shares.

“You are only young once. Some of the best times and friendships forged are the ones in school.”


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our undergraduate programme today.