By Lim Yi Sheng, SMU School of Information Systems
Choosing a degree is a big decision that plagues many fresh diploma and A-level holders, and narrowing down all the possibilities is never an easy thing. Somehow, my younger self had ultimately elected to go for a degree at SMU’s School of Information Systems (SIS), and I can tell you that I’ve never looked back since. It has not been an easy journey, but it has no doubt been extremely fulfilling. Looking back now, there were certainly many compelling reasons to join SIS, some of which I knew beforehand, and others that can only be understood with the benefit of hindsight. So, let me try to set the record straight and present both the ups and downs in an SMU SIS journey.
The coursework is crazy challenging
I won’t lie—this programme is no walk in the park. However, as with every task that has a modicum of difficulty, people tend to engage in hyperbole when describing their experience. This has resulted in many horror stories floating around about SIS, much like the stories about National Service. Some are true, but most are greatly exaggerated. To borrow an adage, if it is not difficult, it is not worth doing. There is an economic theory that suggests a university education is useful as a signal to hiring companies of how much adversity and effort you are willing to put into something. So, in order to send out the clearest signal, what better way than the rigorous coursework offered in spades by SIS to get you right up there with the best of them?
The typical tired expression of an SIS student after pulling an all-nighter
The skillsets you gain are as all-encompassing as it can get
There seems to be an up-and-coming trend where everyone believes that coding is a necessary skill. However, a skill is only as useful as the frequency in which it is applied, or rather, applied correctly. Learning the syntax of a code from a tutorial website is very commendable, but falls short of being sufficient when it comes to real-world applications. In SIS, you will be placed in many situations where you will get to implement various projects for actual clients; thus honing your technical skillset, as well as equipping you with the necessary business knowledge in order to communicate clearly with clients. So get ready for the journey to becoming both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all at once!
My Final Year Project where we created a website for Carousell, a Singapore start-up
If you want to get far, a collaborative community is necessary
In SIS, due to the demanding nature of our projects and client requirements, it is very common and necessary to go above and beyond the scope of your learning objectives. As such, students and professors form close working relationships to ensure better collaboration. SIS has also pretty much done away with the bell curve in many courses in order to encourage students to work together as a team instead of needlessly worrying about individual competition. It’s not uncommon to see professors and students working tirelessly together on a project because in an endless battle against the problems that bits and bytes throw at you, it is best to have as many allies in the “fight”.
Hanging out with SIS’ senior lecturer, Lee Yeow Leong (Photo credit: RoberryArts)
Opening doors to networking and work opportunities
The tech world is an incredibly attractive “place-to-be”, where the current trend is a mass manhunt for tech-savvy personnel, and SIS is right in the thick of it. By producing students who are both technically competent as well as business savvy, SMU has enabled us to straddle very comfortably between two vastly different worlds. This results in fantastic networking, internship and career opportunities. In fact, various MNCs such as Accenture, Visa, DFS, JP Morgan, and Microsoft have opened their doors to welcome SIS students into their communities because of this.
Interacting with President Tony Tan at Huawei’s “Seeds for the Future” 3-week programme
It is where you will find a brand new family
The repercussion of constant pressure and time-sensitivity working on projects is that people tend to just let themselves go. You get to see what they are really like in stressful environments, which sometimes culminates in a kaleidoscope of crazy personalities. And yet, this degree of open vulnerability and honesty mixed with some of the most pressurising yet fulfilling coursework, makes you realise that somehow along the way, you’ve forged the strongest of bonds with these “crazy nutcases”.
In SIS, you (like many others such as myself) will find a family that will be your companion and support pillar through the craziest four years of your life… and probably the rest of it as well.
Undergraduate applications are open! Learn more about the SMU Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) programme today.