By Regina Marie Lee | Images by Yasunari Watanabe
Building on their experiences at Yale-NUS, some students from the Class of 2018 will be moving on to roles in research, working in think tanks and academia. Psychology major Joceline Yong (Class of 2018, in photo above) will be joining The Behavioural Insights Team to apply ideas from behavioural science to public policy. “This opportunity is at a very niche intersection of psychology and public policy, and it’s not something that I’d have imagined in my wildest dreams to have the chance to pursue,” said Joceline.
The Behavioural Insights Team was founded in 2010 by the British government and has since expanded, bringing its approach to social policy across the globe. The Singapore office was launched in 2016 and works closely with Singaporean government agencies to design and implement social policy trials and projects.
Joceline’s interest in behavioural science first grew from a psychology course – Lab in Applying Psychology to Public Policy, where she learnt about the Behavioural Insights Team and spoke with professionals who applied behavioural science to their work. As part of the course, Joceline helped run a randomised controlled trial, in collaboration with various government agencies, to test a behavioural science-based intervention for reducing litter at bus stops.
For Joceline, one of the biggest draws of the role is doing work that is dynamic and applied. “Behavioural science is an emerging field that is only just beginning to gain traction worldwide, and I’m excited to be part of this growing movement,” she said. “I also appreciate that I will be able to see the results of my work being applied in very practical and immediate ways, to make a real and tangible impact on Singapore’s social policies.”
Joceline is also looking forward to joining a small but growing team, having enjoyed her experience as one of the pioneering batches of students at Yale-NUS. “Being in a “start-up” school also meant that I had many opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities and organisations,” said Joceline, who helped established peer counselling service P.S. We Care, served in the Student Government and competed in ballroom dancing. These diverse experiences allowed her to learn skills like active listening, effective communication and project management, among others.
Also a psychology major, Clin Lai (Class of 2018, in photo above) will be joining the NUS Infant and Child Language Centre as a research assistant. There, she will be studying bilingual babies, working with infants to understand the effect of exposure to a bilingual versus monolingual environment.
For Clin, who has a background in early childhood education, this role was a good match of her skills and career plans. She has a diploma in Psychology studies with a specialisation in Early Childhood Studies, and worked as a kindergarten teacher for two years before matriculating. At Yale-NUS, she delved into cognitive psychology and wanted to work as a full-time research assistant before going to graduate school.
Clin said one of her greatest takeaways from Yale-NUS was learning to take the initiative and go for one’s passion. “If there were opportunities I really wanted to pursue, I would go after them with a single-minded drive,” she said. “For example, I wanted to learn about a different way of describing and expressing the world, so I took a course on Introduction to Poetry.” It was the encounters outside the classroom that were the most valuable to her, added Clin, citing her role in Student Government and as a Residential College Advisor to first-year students.
At her new role, Clin said she is looking forward to working with children. “I have always enjoyed working with children. I think they have amazing learning abilities and I really look forward to doing research with them,” she said.
Also going into research is Angela Ferguson (Class of 2018, in photo above), who will be analysing the region’s key risks as a research analyst at the Asia Pacific Risk Centre (APRC), under the Marsh & McLennan Companies. “The opportunity to work on a diverse range of highly pertinent issues, such as societal ageing, infrastructure, technology and cyber security, definitely drew me to the job,” said Angela. The private sector think tank advises industries, governments and societies in Asia on resilience and realising opportunities, given the region’s risks.
Angela said Yale-NUS has allowed her to “come into her own” and fostered her sense of intellectual curiosity. “My experiences at Yale-NUS have taught me that big questions and open-minded inquiry allow a community to dig deeper and see different dimensions to an issue,” she said. “As these habits align with APRC’s commitment to forward-looking thinking, I’m excited to bring this intellectual curiosity to the research and discussions that I undertake in this new community of mine,” she added.