We ask four students what helped them to ace their job interviews and prepare for their roles.

Yi Jie
Tech Analyst, Citibank N.A.
Information Systems Technology and Design, Class of 2020
Previously from Singapore Polytechnic 

Tell us about your role and job scope in the company!
I’ll be working as a tech analyst at Citibank N.A., focusing on application development. As a fresh graduate, I’ll undergo a 2-year-programme where I’ll be rotated to a new technology team every year.

Why did you apply for this role?
I won Citibank’s hackathon in 2018 and had the opportunity to join them as a Summer Tech Analyst during my internship. Subsequently, I accepted their return offer because I see ample room to further develop my software engineering skills there.

How has SUTD’s hands-on curriculum prepared you for the interview and the role you applied for?
I’ll attribute this to the projects I worked on in SUTD. Many of these projects required us to develop and build products from scratch. This encouraged us to pick up new skills independently outside the classroom, which is crucial for anyone aspiring to work in the information technology sector. The frequent project showcases also placed additional (but good) pressure for us to want to do well, since everyone’s projects would be displayed publicly at the end of the term.

Tell us about your experiences so far working and collaborating with companies (e.g. internships, Capstone project)!
All my internship experiences during my time in SUTD helped me better understand why I was learning certain modules in school. This, in turn, guided me to make better decisions when I was selecting my elective modules.

My first official internship was with Saturday Kids, where I discovered my love for programming.  I was tasked to develop programming curriculums and teach students aged between 7 to 18 years-old.

I completed my second internship at Gigacover, an insurance-technology fintech company. I was very fortunate to receive a lot of guidance from their Chief Technology Officer (CTO). When I learnt I was required to use Linux, I switched my laptop’s operating systems from Windows to Linux to motivate myself to become work-proficient at it. During this internship, I participated in a full software development lifecycle for the first time and am still very appreciative of this opportunity.

My third internship was with Citibank. I had an excellent manager and great teammates who treated me well. Even though most of them had busy schedules and tight deadlines to meet, they were more than happy to make time for me to clarify all my doubts and questions. I also learnt a major tip there: always pen down my approach before starting the actual coding. If I’m unable to do so, it’s a sign that I either haven’t fully thought through how to translate the business requirements to code, or that I haven’t understood the motivation/expectations of the final product. Also, penning down important details helps when I want to present my solution to my colleagues.

I did my fourth internship at InterviewerAI. I had a one-month break before starting on my Capstone project, so I was hoping I could learn more about building applications “the right way”. I had the free time anyway, so I took this golden opportunity to learn from their CTO.

I remembered starting my first week of internship at one of the WeWork offices in Kuala Lumpur (the remaining three weeks were spent in Singapore). Despite the distance, I chose to travel there so that I could get up to speed with the development team. I learnt to be comfortable working with cloud technologies such as AWS Lambda and Amazon S3, and discovered why the CTO made certain design choices when building the application. For example, their video processing and analysis pipelines are triggered automatically via Amazon Web Services Lambda and Step Functions. It was an eye-opener for me to see how they transformed the data at each stage, logged every step along the pipeline, and sent notifications in real-time, all via the cloud.

I also had fun working on my Capstone project with our industry partner, Palantir Technologies. To be honest, we were given a very difficult problem to solve – we had to adapt existing models, find relevant historical data, build data pipelines and visualise the findings so that contingency planners can obtain meaningful insights when assessing the potential impact of disasters such as floods. SUTD taught us very well on addressing open-ended problems, so our team tackled the project methodically, applying what we have learnt to address the problem.  My past internship experiences also helped me greatly when we were building our solution.

What do you think are the unique qualities that SUTD has developed in you to enable you to stand out versus other candidates?
I’ll say it’s the ability to think outside the box, pick up new skills and knowledge outside of classes, and to learn continuously. These are necessary traits that I’ve developed during my time in SUTD.

Jin Xi
Design Strategist, Gensler Singapore
Architecture and Sustainable Design, MArch, Class of 2019
Previously from School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA)

Tell us about your role and job scope in the company!
I’m a design strategist at Gensler Singapore, where I work with my team to help clients align their workplaces to their organizations’ visions and workstyles. Sometimes this also includes developing change programmes to support staff members who are transitioning to a new way of working.

To that end, my team and I recommend strategies that fall under the realm of workplace design, usage, and distribution.

For each client project, I work very closely with the project team to first understand the organisation’s vision through leadership interviews, and analyse their workplace utilization data. With a clearer picture of the clients’ team workstyles, my team is then able to propose strategies to improve the effectiveness of their workplaces.

Why did you apply for this role?
This role gives me the opportunity to understand architecture from the end users’ perspectives. In SUTD, I’ve designed architectural spaces from an architect’s vantage point, so I wanted the opportunity to study and understand how spaces are being utilised by end users.

This role also gives me the opportunity to translate my visions into workplace design strategies, which is both challenging and interesting. It allows me to bridge the gap between how organisations plan their workspaces (before the actual design), and how users actually interact with them.

How has SUTD’s hands-on curriculum prepared you for the interview and the role you’re applying for?
The hands-on projects I did in SUTD gave me the chance to see projects through from start to end; from conceptualisation to the design and build phases, all the way till the digital fabrication stage. While these experiences are not directly applicable to my current role as a design strategist, understanding the steps involved, and the thought processes that go behind it has given me a macro view of the whole project.

Tell us about your experiences so far working and collaborating with companies (e.g. internships, Capstone project)!
I had previously worked with the architecture team at Gensler during my Master’s degree internship, where I was involved in master planning projects in the region. This included projects in urban design and hospitality practices. These large-scale assignments also came with whole new sets of considerations and design focuses.

This experience also gave me a better understanding of the resources and opportunities available for me in Gensler to learn beyond my required scope of work.

For my Capstone project, our team, (consisting of Jonathan Ng (ASD), Kerine Kua (ASD), Lai Jun Kang (EPD), Chan Wei Ren (ISTD), Koh Kai Wei (ISTD), Kwok Shun Git (ISTD)) worked with the National Heritage Board for the Singapore Night Festival. Needless to say, it was exciting! Together with our industry partner, we developed a framework to design and fabricate our installation, titled Hyperbands. While this process was not necessarily new to our team, the scale of the installation, and finding design solutions that fulfill the technical and safety requirements was just as challenging and enriching.

Hyperbands, Singapore Night Festival 2018 by KopI/O

What do you think are the unique qualities that SUTD has developed in you to enable you to stand out versus other candidates?
What I find most valuable about SUTD’s pedagogy is its focus on interdisciplinary collaboration. As an architecture student, I actively collaborated with peers from both my course and from other programmes, which gave us the opportunity to design and build projects beyond our own individual capabilities. My experience in addressing problems through different lenses for an integrated solution has helped me to do the same in my work today, where I would consider and weigh different options in search of the best fit solution.

Management Associate, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Engineering Product Development, Class of 2020

Previously from St Andrew’s Junior College

Tell us about your role and job scope in the company!
I’m currently working as a Management Associate at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Through this programme, I’ll be rotated across three different departments in the span of 24 months, after which I’ll be placed in a full-time position to deepen my skills in a particular department.

Why did you apply for this role?
I applied for this role because I’m passionate about healthcare. The role is also a brilliant opportunity for me to be trained and groomed within the institution.

How has SUTD’s hands-on curriculum prepared you for the interview and the role you applied for?
The many presentations and collaborations with both my peers and the professors provided me with the confidence to nail the interview. The Career Development Centre (CDC) at SUTD also helped in refining and critiquing my resume.  They put me through different personality tests to help me understand what roles or positions I am better suited for.

The numerous group projects I worked on at SUTD helped me to develop into an effective team-player, and I learnt to work well in multi-disciplinary teams. I also had many leadership roles in SUTD – I was the Vice-President of the Soccer Club, a member of the Sports Exco Leadership Team, and Lead Presenter for several modules. These experiences helped me to grow too as a leader.

Tell us about your experiences so far working and collaborating with companies (e.g. internships, Capstone project)!
My experiences thus far have been amazing. I interned at a biotech start-up called Senescence Life Sciences.  At Senescence Life Sciences, I managed a pilot study, collated the results for analysis, and reviewed journal articles for industry research and industry trends monitoring. Towards the end of the internship, I was also appointed the project coordinator for the company’s business planning/partnership and market analysis initiatives.

Thanks to CDC’s help in evaluating my abilities, I was able to make better contributions to the company based on my expertise and engineering know-how. For example, I learnt how my technical background was essential to my ability to communicate with parties from different industries. In fact, I enjoyed my time there so much that I continued working part-time with them until I joined Tan Tock Seng Hospital in July this year.

For our Capstone project, we worked with Arup Group to build a silent modular acoustic barrier that was easy to assemble and dismantle. One of the challenges we faced was how we had to make a device that was small, quiet and easy-to-use. The inter-disciplinary focus of the Capstone project, together with the guidance of our professors, helped us to propose a solution that was cost effective (2x returns), statistically-beneficial (> 30%), and met international standards (such as ISO).

What do you think are the unique qualities that SUTD has developed in you to enable you to stand out versus other candidates?
For starters, the numerous exposure to group projects during my time in SUTD definitely placed me at an advantage as I am familiar with the project workflow processes.

Furthermore, SUTD’s emphasis on design-centred thinking is aligned with the innovation projects in the healthcare industry, and is especially relevant given the patient-centred focus of my role. SUTD’s healthcare modules also gave me a head-start by educating me about the industry, and providing both hands-on experience and the opportunity to work alongside healthcare professionals such as doctors. With my specialisation in Engineering Product Development, these factors will allow me to better create products to address real-world healthcare issues.

Ying Sheng
Global Data Analyst, Bloomberg
Engineering Systems and Design, Class of 2020
Previously from Singapore Polytechnic

Tell us about your role and job scope in the company!
I’ll be working as a global data analyst in Bloomberg, and my role is to use data from the Bloomberg terminal to assist clients with their queries. For example, clients may have questions about how the data is procured, or how they can improve the quality of their analysis using terminal data.

I’ll also be involved in ad-hoc projects, such as improving data cleanliness and testing new technologies, which is very similar to what I learnt in the Engineering Systems and Design (ESD) specialisation in SUTD.

Why did you apply for this role?
I’ve always found the work that Bloomberg does interesting. It combines finance and technology to deliver a product that impacts many lives daily.

I have an interest in data and finance, and I’m in the SUTD-SMU Dual Degree Programme in Technology and Management. This programme covers both business management, as well as an engineering field (I chose the ESD specialisation). This dual specialisation is a perfect fit for the role I applied for.

How has SUTD’s hands-on curriculum prepared you for the interview and the role you applied for?
SUTD taught me that there are many different ways to approach a problem. I can vividly recall a project for a physics module I did during my freshmore year where I first learnt this approach, and I have found this to be a very efficient way of solving problems.

For this data analyst role, interest in coding was a job requirement. I took up a few coding modules in SUTD, as well as a couple of data analytics modules that were very relevant to the questions my interviewers asked. I was able to apply my lateral thinking to address some real-life process and data onboarding challenges, and I think that impressed the interviewers.

Tell us about your experiences so far working and collaborating with companies (e.g. internships, Capstone project)!
In our Data and Business Analytics module, we learnt to apply the theories of optimisation and machine learning to help a real-world company, Car Club, derive practical insights from their data. It was amazing that I had the opportunity to address real-life business challenges in as early as my sophomore year.

I also interned at a start-up called Entropica Labs, where they integrate different quantum computing companies and libraries into a common platform. My ESD knowledge came in really handy there. I had completed a module called Engineering Systems and Architecture, where my professors taught us cutting edge methods used by the industry, such as genetic algorithms. This foundation allowed me to quickly pick up more optimisation algorithms and address certain optimisation problems that the company was looking to solve using their software.

For my Capstone project, my team worked with a data modelling company, Palantir Technologies, to design a software for disaster relief planners to improve the contingency planning process using data modelling. To do that, we had to draw from what we learnt from our various specialisations, such as ESD and Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD). But more than anything else, I think the most important skill we used was how to look at a problem from its core and deconstruct it using design thinking. We stripped down the problem and examined how the platform would best benefit a disaster planner, and this helped us to scope our approach and apply what we learnt in our undergraduate studies to address this challenge. This was a particularly fulfilling project for me, and Palantir Technologies liked the project so much that they were interested to pick it up for further development.

What do you think are the unique qualities that SUTD has developed in you to enable you to stand out versus other candidates?
In terms of technology and knowledge, I think every university will do their best to prepare their students. What makes SUTD students different is our hands-on experience in problem-solving, and in working with people from other disciplines. People usually approach a problem based on their educational background or knowledge, but SUTD students are trained to see the problem in a design-centric way, and pool together the team’s collective knowledge to address the root issue.

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