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One student’s round-the-world internship journey

How one NTU undergraduate criss-crossed the globe to pursue a steady stream of work attachments
by Mason Moo

THE BUND, SHANGHAI

PHOTOS: MASON MOO

I did a quick count and realised that I clocked my 18th flight in the past year. It’s funny when you think about it, because travelling a lot typically doesn’t apply to a final-year undergrad, who is more likely to be weighed down with making the final sprint to a good GPA.

Thanks to NTU, I got to see the world. I’m a Nanyang Business School student on a three-year programme. Yet, I have accumulated close to one-and-a-half years of overseas experience.

I did three of my four work attachments overseas. I spent the summer and winter breaks of my first year in Las Vegas in the United States for close to six months and pursued a three-month internship in Shanghai and Beijing, China, for my professional attachment. I also spent another three months at a fintech startup in Bangkok, Thailand during one of my semestral vacations. On top of that, I completed an exchange programme in Seoul, South Korea.

These would not have been possible without NTU’s strong academic reputation, which convinces employers that NTU students are assets rather than youthful liabilities. NTU opened up a host of global opportunities and I grabbed them to pursue work attachments like a young expat. You could say that NTU holds the coveted golden passport that gives you access to the world.

Shanghai, China

FRENCH CONCESSION, SHANGHAI

I remember the summer of my second year most vividly. I was in Shanghai for a mandatory professional attachment. There, I was attached to Hand Enterprise Solutions, an IT consulting firm. Given the cross-departmental nature of the project, I had to interact with many Chinese-speaking colleagues every day. Having to use Mandarin on a professional level was a real challenge. I think I spoke more Mandarin in those three months than I ever had in my past 23 years on this planet! Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise because in the span of a few weeks, my Mandarin improved so much that I started to receive praise from the locals for my fluency in it – something that amused my parents!

While I might have notched up yet another overseas work attachment, the truth is, I gained so much more. My colleagues became firm friends, and now I can better appreciate everyday business conundrums, especially from the perspective of the locals.

Seoul, South Korea

  • ARARIO MUSEUM, SEOUL

Last semester, I went to Yonsei University for an exchange programme. I had not bargained for five glorious months in Seoul. The best thing? A close friend of mine got into a shorter winter immersion programme that NTU jointly runs with Ewha Womans University while I was there, and we had a good time goofing around and catching up after lessons. Munching on pork belly and downing cheap and good soju together made it twice as fun! I never thought I could realise my dream of both living overseas and gaining experience as a young expat. This is something that satiates me, yet fuels my thirst for new adventures.

LAS VEGAS BOULEVARD

Las Vegas, USA

Neon signboards screamed “Welcome to Las Vegas!” upon my arrival at McCarran International Airport. I was posted to the city that never sleeps by an advertising agency in Singapore to work on some commercial projects and I was thrilled to see the world-renowned Strip in person. Slot machines and bars literally pepper the busiest and brightest 13km stretch of Sin City, a much more decadent version of Singapore’s Orchard Road. I had pursued this work stint outside of the NTU curriculum and juggling school and work was no mean feat.

At work, I was in charge of digital marketing and automating one of the firm’s e-commerce channels. While it was a challenging experience, I learnt so much. After-work activities ran the gamut from attending concerts by The Chainsmokers and Ariana Grande, to experiencing the glitz and glamour of the Vegas clubs. My weekends were anything but dull either. My new friends and I took numerous road trips to tour the Wild West of USA, including Los Angeles, Hoover Dam and the art installation, Seven Magic Mountains, that’s out in the desert.

I am writing this as my convocation ceremony draws near. Looking back, had I not gone on these journeys, I’d be a vastly different person today. I would not have fed my love for photography, for one. The people I met on the road have left imprints and memories that keep me humble and grounded. My life would not be the same if I had stayed in Singapore.

Mason Moo, 24, from the Class of 2018, has joined Heineken's graduate programme, where he works on the company’s digital technologies.