Feature

Where I went last summer

A career abroad is a reality in today’s global workplace and at NTU, undergraduates get the first taste of it through overseas internships. HEY! talks to five NTU students about that coveted first overseas work experience

By Derek Rodriguez and Chrystal Chan
My “country” won the World Cup
Wee Hong Jie
School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Interned at DLR, Braunschweig, Germany

Has your country ever won the World Cup? Mine has. Well, my adopted country of five months anyway. Watching the World Cup with German football fans was truly electrifying; witnessing the entire town explode with spontaneous celebration was something I will never forget.

The World Cup took place at the tail end of my internship in Braunschweig with DLR, the NASA of Germany. There wasn’t much to cheer about in the beginning as I took some time to adapt to the climate. It was absolutely freezing!

I soon settled quickly into my work. After learning more about air traffic management and getting acquainted with the software I had to use, I was given a project in which I had to conduct human trials. This was the first time I was entrusted with such a huge responsibility and I gained a lot of confidence from it.

The internship was a blast. In Singapore, the aerospace industry focuses mainly on maintenance, repair and overhaul work and I wanted a unique experience. I wanted to encounter a different working culture and Germany was a good base from which to explore Europe on my days off.

One thing I didn’t expect was to fall in love with Braunschweig. It’s a small town that isn’t very cosmopolitan, but therein lies its charm. It’s as German as they come and dripping in local culture. I lapped it all up, not least of all the amazing beer.

On my second last day, I was imbued with sudden clarity. I took a helicopter ride for research purposes – the first time I was on one – and looked down. It hit me then; the moment I knew that I was on the right track with my work and studies. This was where I belonged.
Internship advantage

Each year, over 4,300 NTU students go on internships at about 1,500 companies, both in Singapore and overseas, with about 30% receiving a job offer at the end of the internship.

In the last three years, two in three graduating NTU students secured a job before leaving university, an impressive statistic that is helped by NTU’s industrial attachment programmes.

“Internships are very important. They allow students to have exposure to the working world and to see how things you have learnt in class work in real life," says Prof Kam Chan Hin, Senior Associate Provost (Undergraduate Education) at NTU.

NTU students have interned in organisations in Asia, Europe, North America and Africa. The most popular countries include Switzerland, the United States, France, China and Japan.