Friday, December 14, 2012

The MetroDBITan student series : Issue #012 - Janelle Zou

A couple of weeks ago, we featured one of our DBIT graduates, Jasmine Leong who is now pursuing a Business Degree at the prestigious Nanyang Business School.

Some of you might be eyeing degrees from other universities like Singapore Management University(SMU) instead, so today, let's chat with another DBIT alumni who has just started studying there since August this year!

Let me introduce Janelle Zou!

Janelle, can you tell us more about the degree programme you are studying now? 

I am taking SMU's Degree in Information System. This course is highly related to the course that I took in SP, Business Information Technology.  What is similar is that the Information System course I am currently taking is an integration of Business and Information System/Technology.

What is the difference between poly life and university life?

The life in SP and in SMU is a vast transition for me!

Life in SP was great, the curriculum wasn’t too intense, and we had a fixed class. There was little homework there. But the experience in SP was great! It helped me grow and a person in terms of knowledge and character.

In SMU, the classes/modules/curriculum are not that overwhelming, but the amount of work to complete, together with assignments and project can be very very time-consuming.  Pre-reading is almost required to be done for all modules before you go to class. I believe that is the case with other Universities as well in general.

However, one thing special about SMU is that we do have quite a fair bit of group assignments and project work, which group members are randomly assigned so you will need to learn how to work cohesively with different people and not just roll in your own comfort zone.

As mentioned, the group assignments are quite a lot so sometimes you might find yourself coming back to school for project meetings on days you don’t have classes or even on a Sunday possibly, since everyone has a different schedule and it’s not easy to have a common time off to meet up for discussion.

The class schedule is also different for every module, so basically you don’t have a fixed class/group of friend to hang out and go by the day with you. So you probably hang out with a different person or group on different days.

Please share some tips on how to transit from these two phases of study life. 

The transition was not easy at all.  It started by seeing everyone else staying back after classes and trying to do pre-reading for modules or completing homework assignments by their professor. It was not a norm at all for poly students like us. Slowly we learnt to adapt to that as well because pre-reading truly helps in understanding the topics before you go for classes, and at times, submitting homework on time counts for your actual final grade.

Please share with us how you managed to apply the SMU degree/ scholarship.  Heard that the SMU Degree course requires you to go through a scary interview! Can you share about this interview? Did you consider other degree programs?  Why did you pick this one eventually?

The course I am currently taking (IS) is closely linked to SP’s DBIT. I chose this field because I know which industry I will wish to enter in my future career. The possible career paths in my chosen industry are likely to be high in demand :)

The interview was not scary at all. Some people are just afraid of things like interviews and presentations I guess. But I was not held back by that. I believe that cultivating the habit of speaking up is essentially part and parcel of life.

The interview I had basically compromised of a thinking question and a case:

  • The thinking question is to allow the interviewers to recognize your analytical skills.
  • They will also give a case (or a problem) and ask you to come up with a solution to solve the problem.

There is no need for preparation, except dressing in smart attire.  It is always better to overdress than to underdress. The main idea of the interview is not to solely judge on your analytical process. Of course, if your solution is awesome, they will definitely be impressed. But other than that, I assume that way you present yourself, your confidence, your idea and your enthusiastic is key.

Janelle at SMU orientation

Share us some memories of yourselves / your friends / your life in SP when you were in DBIT.

I had a bunch of great friends. We hung out a lot, in school, out of school, at my house, friend’s house, overnight cramming at the airport for exams and projects, having dinners at town.

I really appreciate everything about life in SP at this point, it was fun! Since going into a new environment, I realized how differently it works now. In SP, lecturers were almost like friends with us.

What do you like about the DBIT course? What do you think should be improved in the DBIT course?

As mentioned, my three years in DBIT was enjoyable and meaningful.  I have nothing to complain about the curriculum and workload!

On top of that, we were

  • offered to go for an eye-opening Overseas Exchange Programme to the U.S.A
  • had six weeks internships in related industry firms
  • completed a final year project to give us an experience of working together with firms in the real world.
DBIT also encouraged students to go for competitions to gain experience and possibly recognition.

Can you share some encouraging words or advice for juniors who are in the DBIT course now, or aspiring secondary students who are interested to pursue a business or IT related course.

I believe everyone should have a goal in life, and work toward the goal. If you don’t have one yet, maybe you can start to think about and plan for your next milestone in life. Once you know where you are heading to, you will definitely see yourself differently.

Don’t ever think that you are never good enough.  Of course being humble is still a great virtue, but you need to believe in yourself that you can make it. Don’t let public speaking or presentations hold you back, that’s part of the interview anyway.  Dare to express yourself freely, and whether the interviewers/ judges like you or not, its not up to you. Just be true to who you are.

Some last words, stay positive. I know of many people around me who are stressed over workloads and whatnot, but if you think positively, you will go further!


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