Thomas Yu/ Kymberly

In an ideal world, one would have the luxury to give a hundred per cent to school and attend classes on a full-time basis. However, here is a real news flash: the world is still dealing with the collateral impact of the pandemic crisis, and ahead lies an unforgiving economy. If you want to secure your future, the solution is simple: consider double hatting as an adult learner.

21 May 2021

5 mins read

Securing your Future in a Volatile Economy


Fortunately, with flexible study options, part-time studies is no longer as daunting. It can even be rewarding on many levels. We speak to Thomas Yu & Kymberly Tan, who, despite their respective personal and work pursuits, chose to take on the part-time BSc (Hons) Business Management (Top-up) programme with the University of Birmingham (UoB) at SIM.

Tell us about yourself.

Thomas (T): I am 27 this year, father to a 15-month old baby, and a full-time market development manager at an IoT hardware-distributing firm.

Thomas with his daughter on a day out to Jewel Changi Airport.

Kymberly (K): I am a full-time HR Shared Services Executive. My role includes managing the on and off boarding processes for employees, work pass matters and assisting in employee retention initiatives as well as other ad-hoc projects.

Why the decision to further your studies with the University of Birmingham?

T: I was drawn to the flexible course structure comprising group work, essays and exams. The fact that the tutors are all from the University itself, is an assurance of the programme’s quality.

K: I was looking for a reputable university, one that has a good track record and is recognised globally. It was also important to me that the course covers a broad aspect of business. Essentially, it was all about receiving an excellent overseas study experience in Singapore and UoB ticked all the right boxes for me. 

What was your main motivator to pursue a part-time degree?

T: Mainly to improve my employment prospects. I feel that possessing a degree is a prerequisite especially in the current job market.

K: To be financially independent. I was at a crossroad deciding whether to pursue full-time or part-time studies. I did not want to have to rely on student loans to get through the next 2 years so ultimately the natural decision for me was to continue working while studying. I must add that being able to gain work experience while attaining a qualification helped to reinforce my decision.

How has taking on a part-time degree shaped you as a person and an employee?

T: It forced me to be more systematic now that I have to manage my time efficiently between school, work and family. Work wise, it facilitated a shift in my worldview. I am more aware of how the current workforce, society & organisations function.

K: It all came down to improving how I managed not only my time but also the mental load. Having to commit to school after work was not an easy task at first, but it has taught me to juggle both commitments together.

The interesting modules particularly helped me to broaden my perspectives and they changed the approach I take to resolving challenges faced at work. The lecturers always emphasise on critical analysis for assignments and exams and, I guess it has become a habit for me now. 

Share with us a challenge you faced studying part-time while working and how you overcame it.

T: Time management. It can be tough juggling a full-time job and studies, especially when the load piles up at work. There is no quick solution to this except to persevere and press on. Even though the process can be draining, what you receive at the end of the day is a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

K: I second that. I can only set aside time for assignment or revisions after I return home from work. I have lessons on weekends as well, and so finding time to complete schoolwork remains a challenge. I was conventionally used to sitting down and finishing blocks of work at one go, but I soon realised that the best approach is to do a little, day by day. Being consistent is the key here, and studying at the 11th hour rarely turns out well.

Name something your loved ones have done/said to you that you hold close up to this day.

T: “If you can manage so many commitments concurrently, you are definitely more prepared for the future.”

K: I probably would not have survived if it were not for my parents’ support! My mum would cook meals for me before my lessons and, my dad would always fetch me home after night classes. My family and friends would also constantly remind me that I should not be too fixated on outcomes and that if I do my best, the results will follow naturally.

Debunk a common myth on part-time studies.

T: You most definitely do not learn lesser in a part-time programme when compared to a full-time one! The lesson plans are the same – with some modifications in class schedules.

K: Honestly, that was what I thought (reference to learning lesser as a part-time student), but it became apparent to me that the content is the same.
The timetable, however, is much more different. Part-time students have lessons at night on weekdays and even full day classes on the weekends. Other than that, we are still subject to the same assessment mode as the full-time students, and that includes presentations, assignments and exams.

What is one piece of advice you have for aspiring part-time students?

T: In the current market, upskilling will help to open more career doors. Part-time students also have an added advantage to apply what you learn to your job simultaneously.

K: The thought of studying part-time may be intimidating at first; I think it helps to remember that you are not alone and that your classmates are going through the same thing together. In fact, your time in school will fly by much quicker than you think!

Learn about the part-time programmes offered at SIM by globally-recognised universities.


Posted online, 21 May 2021