6 October 2017: Yale-NUS students take on diverse internships to explore different career paths

By Daryl Yang | Image provided by Nicole Lim

Summer is a time when many Yale-NUS students travel to different parts of the world to explore different cities or spend time experiencing different career options in preparation for graduation. This summer, three Yale-NUS students decided to take on internships in Singapore as they learnt what it was like to work in the fields of journalism, public health and finance.

Nicole Lim (Class of 2018) spent her summer with Channel NewsAsia (CNA), a Singapore-based television news channel while Jerald Lim (Class of 2019) and Ajinkya Chougule (Class of 2018) were with the Communicable Disease Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Goldman Sachs, respectively.

“I was inspired to apply for an internship at Channel NewsAsia after a talk organised by the Centre for International & Professional Experience with some of CNA’s senior journalists who shared with us their passion for the job,” Nicole said. The Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) is established by the College to enhance Yale-NUS students’ academic learning through experiential learning, global opportunities, leadership development and career services.

Nicole (above) had the chance to try her hands at three different desks during her nine-week internship: International News, Singapore News and the Digital Desk.

“The highlight of my internship was during my time at the Digital desk where I wrote long form feature stories for the CNA website. One of my assignments required me to run around in the hot weather from 9am to 9pm during an NDP preview with a camera, an extra lens, and several bottles of water, all whilst trying to photograph my moving subject and figuring out different camera settings that would fit the various indoor and outdoor environments we were at,” she shared.

“I also proposed my own story that featured the profiles of the youngest and oldest Singaporean athletes at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in August. I was very privileged to be entrusted with my own story to work on, and received a lot of support from my colleagues and editors along the way.  I even went out to sea on a speedboat to take photos of the youngest athlete, a sailor, while she was in action. Thankfully, despite the rocky conditions during the shoot, my supervisors liked how my photos turned out!” Nicole reflected.

For Jerald, he wanted to explore careers in the public health sector in Singapore. Having taken several classes related to public health, this internship offered him the chance to put what he has learnt in action.

“This opportunity enabled me to experience work in the field of public health, and decide whether I would enjoy it and whether I could contribute meaningfully to the sector. I also wanted to experience and understand the process for conducting empirical qualitative research, as I plan to employ such a method in my capstone project. This internship gave me a first-hand understanding of the process and allowed me to effectively design my own research in future,” he explained.

Jerald’s internship entailed working with a small team comprising a Masters student from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, and four epidemiologists and research assistants from the Communicable Disease Centre.

“We are currently in the initial phase of a two-year-long study designed to see if HIV self-testing should be implemented in Singapore, and if so, how to best go about it. This initial phase involves interviewing one of the several demographic groups at high risk for HIV about their experiences with and opinions on HIV testing, and using this data to shape subsequent qualitative and quantitative methodologies,” he explained.

An Economics major, Ajinkya worked as an intern in Goldman Sach’s sovereign credit risk team in Singapore.

“I help to manage the firm’s credit risk against sovereign, supranational and sub-sovereign counterparties. However, in a single day, I could be analysing the potential impact of the election of a new leader on government policies, thinking about what indicators might be best used to highlight the economic risks of doing business in a particular country, taking a late night call with a sector specialist colleague on the other side of the world, or presenting on key macroeconomic trends in an emerging market to the global team,” he shared.

While many of the tasks he had were unfamiliar and new, Ajinkya was able to learn quickly on the job, something he credits to his liberal arts training.

“The great thing about liberal arts education is that it teaches you how to learn. This definitely aided me during the internship – in a fast-paced, constantly evolving industry like finance, you have to constantly learn and pick up new things on the job, so the training provided by a liberal arts education comes in very handy in this regard. It more than makes up for any perceived lack of ‘hard skills’ as a liberal arts major in a finance firm,” he explained.

“Being exposed to a variety of cultures at Yale-NUS also certainly made it easier for me to transit to the workplace environment, especially as my workplace values diversity as much as the College does. In the finance industry, one is very likely to interact with colleagues from all around the world (including in offices overseas), and having had that experience in college certainly made me more confident in my internship,” he added.

For Nicole, her past experiences at Yale-NUS College have also prepared her for the challenges she faced during her internship. An anthropology major, she also realised many similarities between her field of study and journalism.

“I think anthropologists and journalists have much in common because we both are storytellers on people and societies. We go wherever people are, talk to them, participate in their activities, note down our observations and weave that into a story that everyone can partake in,” she reflected.

“My liberal arts education has also taught me how to have conversations and ask intelligent and pertinent questions about fields outside of what I study, including unfamiliar areas like environmental science and engineering, and not be intimidated by them. It has also prepared me to become a more proactive person who is not afraid to take the initiative and ask hard questions.”