Tertiary education, regardless of the institution, equips you with skill sets and perspectives to question issues instead of taking things at face value.
Discover SIM GE With his Sociology internship experience, Andrew hopes to work in policy research IF YOUR skill set is good enough for the job, then you're good enough for the job, regardless of where or how you obtained your qualifications, says Andrew Yeo Zhi Jian. In reality, though, prospective employers and their HR executives often assess an individual's value to the company according to where that individual got his or her degree from, says Andrew. The implication of this train of thought is an emphasis on how well a student does during pre-university in order to get to where he or she is, which can leave late developers disillusioned. There is also the misperception that a degree from a public-funded university is somehow "better" than one obtained via the private institution academic pathway. Andrew, 25, who completed his BA in Sociology programme at SIM-State University of New York at Buffalo, wrote a commentary on April 22, 2013, in Today Online newspaper on "the false dichotomy between public and private education". In its place should be a renewed focus on relevant occupational competencies. He writes: "Among private education students are many who did not make it to our public universities due to a lack of maturity in their younger days and those who had to juggle work and school in their polytechnic/junior college days, leaving them less time to study. "I identify with the group of students in the former category but have many friends and acquaintances who belong to both. Despite the differences in our backgrounds, we, along with any student - public or private - in Singapore, share the same concerns and turn to education as a stepping stone and, to many extents, as a social leveller." According to the soft-spoken, earnest young man, "tertiary education, regardless of the institution, equips you with skill sets and perspectives to question issues instead of taking things at face value”. Global education in London internship As the name implies, SIM Global Education has provided a truly global educational experience for Andrew. In the spring of 2012, he went on a four-month study and research programme at Buffalo's London site. The programme was an internship whereby Andrew worked as a research assistant at the City of Westminster (in the heart of London) Archive, delving into historical material on the Chartist Reform Movement (1838-1848) in Victorian England. "We did research on Chartist leader Feargus O'Connor and how he organised the movement. My job was to read the spies' reports on the Chartists, make notes and collate demographic figures. "The aim of the research project was to find out how an unknown individual like O’Connor could rise to national prominence so quickly.” Independent study and research Andrew says he enjoyed his time at Buffalo immensely. Among the most challenging modules was the Independent Study programme because it was equivalent to a traditional full-year Honours programme. "We did it in one semester, conducting a major research on the elderly. Six of us in the team framed the research question, drafted a survey questionnaire of 50 questions, and conducted interviews with about 130 individuals who were older than 65 years. "After the survey, we had to produce a research paper. My topic dwelled on Chinese culture and proximity to loved ones. How far away did the old folks live away from family members, and how much financial support did the old folks receive?" Post-graduate pursuits With such solid grounding in sociological studies, Andrew is keen to work in either a government organisation or think tank that carry out long-term policy research. Since May 2013, Andrew has been working as a writing intern at the Political/Economic unit of the US Embassy in Singapore. He will leave to pursue his MSc in Social Policy and Planning studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2013. - Interviewed & posted online, May 9, 2013