Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our Overseas Internship experience in University College London (UCL) - Part 1

Hi, I am Sally, currently in my third year in Diploma in Business Information Technology. 
Together with 4 other coursemates, Wei Xuan, Ashley, Cedric and Tabitha, I was very fortunate to be able to experience a 6 weeks Industrial Attachment in London from 10 March to 20 April this year. 
In this blog entry and one more to follow, myself and Ashley will be sharing with you snippets of what we experienced and learnt during this journey! 
We were attached to University College London (UCL) which is ranked the Top 4th university in the world. During the trip, we had the opportunity to attend lessons together with the UCL students at this renowned university.   Besides this, our very friendly supervisor, Mr Richard Pettinger, the of Director of the BSc/MSci Information Management for Business programme at UCL also arranged for us to attend several interesting seminars such as the ITMB Conference and SAP conference. 
Of course, we had our share of fun visiting different cultural places and attractions in the city itself.
We hope you will enjoy reading our journal on this experience.  :) 

Before the start of our trip in London,
we were sent off by our fellow friends and family
as well as our course manager Ms Wong Shin Yueh!
J Thank you for sending us off!

Week 1

After touching down in London Heathrow Airport, we were greeted by Mr Richard Pettinger, who warmly welcomed us to London. He then brought us to our hotel where we would be staying at for the next 6 weeks. Initially, all of us were very apprehensive about the stay in this hotel, as we had our reservations about common toilets and washrooms. However, our worries went away after getting into the hotel! We were split into 3 rooms, where Weixuan and Cedric shared a room, and Tabitha and Ashley shared another, and I had a single room!

A photo of my cosy room! (Sally)

Mr Richard briefing us about what we were going to do for that week!

A selfie with Mr Richard!
On that same first day, we met up with Shi Hui, a DBIT Graduate who is currently studying in UCL back at our hotel, where she gave us our UK SIM Cards which made us ‘3G-desperate’ people very happy!

She then brought us to Waitrose Supermarket, for us to buy our mineral water, as well as the area around there! Thank you Shi Hui for bringing us around!

With us and our newly gained muscles from lugging back 4 big bottles of mineral water back to our hotel, we finally ended the first day in UK!

For our first day of class in UCL, we met up with Mr Richard, who then brought us from our hotel to the school. We were then brought around by one of the staff around the main areas of the school. We then went to one of the cafeterias in school to have lunch!

Food from the school cafeteria

After lunch, we went for our first lesson of Human Resource Management! The teaching style in UK is really different from the teaching style back in Singapore. For example, the professors would easily engage students, and they wouldn’t need to pick on students to answer questions, the students would answer it themselves, and the lecturer himself was really engaging, as he had often linked points that he made and taught in class related to real life situations that all of us could relate to. As a result, we learnt a lot about Human Resource Management. It was also really cool, because we were in the same class as Shi Hui was!

On Day 4, we also attended our first Critical Analytical Thinking lecture! J
Once again the teaching method for the critical analytical thinking was really different, and the students were called upon to do a mini presentation of how to capture your audience by saying something relatable, and we were quite impressed by some of their presentations, which was really an eye opening for us.
Later in the afternoon, we got to attend the SAP conference, which was really an honour, as the Vice CEO of SAP, Bill Dermont was a panellist! It was mentioned to us that he was really hard to get hold of and to invite, so it was really amazing to have this opportunity to listen to him speak!

It was a really intriguing session, as it wasn’t actually a talk, but rather a proper conversation, where the students of UCL asked questions for the panellists to answer them. It was really interesting hearing about their experiences and how they became successful.

We then had a networking session where we had the opportunity to talk to the panellists and interact with them!

The 4 panelists!
From right: Mr Bill Dermont, Raj - CEO of Enternships
Melissa - CEO of another startup, Mr Richard Pettinger

Besides seminars, we also managed to visit the Warner Brother's studios! 

We also got to attend the ITMB Conference in UK, which was a large scale conference held in Savill Court Hotel. It is a whole day event, and we were asked to dress in formal attire.

Us in our formal attire!

However, we were rather taken aback, as we realised that our definition of formal wasn’t formal enough, and most students there were wearing blazers! Which none of us were donning that day. However, it was a really interesting experience; as we got to listen to representatives from top companies speak. Some of the speakers included the CEO of Dell, the Head of SAP ERP systems from GSK (Glaxo Smith Kline), and the CEO of e-skills UK. We also got to sit in an agile workshop, which taught us how a little about how scrum works. It was really enriching, as we had learnt scrum back in Singapore before from a module called System Development Techniques. However, we had only learnt the theory part of it, and had not learnt how to implement it. This workshop taught us much more than what we had learnt in class back in Singapore, and it was a very valuable session.
Another workshop that we had attended was the Six Hats workshop conducted by P&G. It was about working as a team, and the 6 different coloured hat categories that different people fell into, which was an enjoyable session, which also gave us an insight to how meetings are being conducted in top renowned companies such as P&G.
After the entire conference, we got to network once again with people from the different top companies, such as Accenture, HP, Dell, Shell, IBM, Deloitte and P&G.

For Day 7, we attended the Critical Analytical Thinking Seminar class in UCL. During this seminar, the class discussed on whether there is a future for Best Buy in a world of online, personalised retail", which was the topic of the course work that the UCL students are currently working on. Through this seminar, we were able to learn more about the change of a business model and the strategic horizon for a business. After our class, we headed over to Oxford Circus Area to have a look around; it’s too big to be covered in a day!

Week 2

As it was the weekends for us, we headed to Camden Market, It was really similar to the Bugis Street in Singapore, but with cool looking structures everywhere as well as fantastic food from around the world!

While exploring Camden Market, we came across a store selling Poffertjes! (As seen above) Poffertjes are Dutch pancakes, and they were extremely delicious! It cost us about 4.50 pounds ($9.70) for 1 plate.

On Sunday (Day 9) I stayed in the hotel while the rest went about exploring.

Tabitha, Ashley and Weixuan in Regent’s Park!

It was back to school for us on Monday and we attended the Human Resource Management Class, and afterwards went to Waitrose to get our groceries. The only thing notable was that we bought Ice cream! We ate Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which was only 1.50 pounds!

On Tuesday, we attended the Critical Analytical Thinking Lecture as well as our first Business in a competitive environment class.

During the Business in a Competitive Class, we were taught on the topic of "Technological Forecasting and Innovation". Firstly, we learnt about the connection between a creator and a user and how a business should always aim at obtaining positive feedback.

Next, we learnt about the relation between a network and its user by using the MetCalfe's law. The MetCakfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users.

Finally, we learnt about the three phases of a business, which are Early Adopters, Chasm and Early Markets.

During the Critical Analytical Thinking Class, we learnt about the "Pyramid Principle" concept of formatting a presentation. 

On Day 12, we also got to attend UCL Open Day! They talked about accommodation expenses, school fees, and introduction to the school! They also had a school tour, which we went along.

UCL Open Day briefing!
After which, we headed down to Chinatown, where we managed to find bubble tea! However, the bubble tea cost about around 4.50 pounds, which is around 9 SGD! It was super expensive, but we were happy to finally get a feel of home!
4.50 pounds bubble tea - 9SGD!
We also managed to visit Madam Tussaud's wax museum! 

Week 3

Happy Birthday WeiXuan!

On Day 15, we celebrated WeiXuan's birthday! We went to waitrose to get a cake and candles for Weixuan, and we tried to sneak back into the hotel; it was like mission impossible, as Weixuan was somehow standing in the lobby of the hotel!
After a while, we finally managed to sneak back to our room, and prepared to surprise him! Surprise Successful!

Also, for our last lesson for Critical Analytical Thinking, the ex-evp of Best Buy was present for our weekly critical analytical thinking lesson as the students had to do a presentation regarding best buy.
There were about 4-5 groups from the class similarly to our class size in Singapore. However, they presented differently from what I thought.

Being a Singaporean, I was definitely impressed at their English/pronunciation and I loved it.
Their presentation was also less tense and formal compared to how we would present in Singapore. 
Most of the students knew their points and most of them could portray what they wanted to say without the use of a script or noted which was very impressive!

They also had this paper where they grade and evaluate the performance of the other groups. It was a good way to make the student pay attention and to learn from what the other groups did well or not well.  It was also a good chance for us to see how the students here present and even having a guest who was from the company to sit in to listen to the students.

The UCL students' presentation!

We also went to the British Museum. The museum had an enormous collection of items from all over the world, and it was really huge; we spent a few hours in there.

Having an intelligent conversation :D
Besides doing our exploration in London, we also discussed with Mr Richard Pettinger on the project that we were going to take up. The project that we are taking up is Microsoft Research Project on the Psion Organiser and the scope of it is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of it in comparison to its competitors and provide relevant suggestions on how it should be improved such that it will be commercially viable again.

Also after the visit to the British Museum, Cedric, WeiXuan and I set out to Waitrose to buy a cake for Ashley. It all went well until we were preparing to surprise her. However, we failed to do so! L It was a failed surprise! Nevertheless, we still had a lot of fun! Happy 19th Birthday Ashley!

This entry is written by DBIT Year 3 student, Sally Chin.

Sally's dream is to be part of something amazing.

During her free time, Sally likes to watch Korean variety shows.

Born in the month of November, Sally is a Scorpio.

Her philosophy in life is to dream big, and be different .To her, success means making an impact on society.

Connect with Sally at her Facebook profile to talk to her! :)

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