Why SMU: How SMU’s Innovative Curriculum has Equipped Isabel for her Career Head-start

Q1. How did you decide on taking a double major in Finance and Sociology despite being a Social Sciences undergraduate?

Sociology was a subject that always piqued my interest. However, after undertaking Sociology modules for a year in SMU, I realised that I wanted to go beyond the scope of Social Sciences and discover other academic passions. Since SMU offers a flexible curriculum with multi-disciplinary programmes, I took this opportunity to curate my own academic experience according to my strengths and interests.

In my freshman year, I met a mentor who specialised in investment banking that inspired me to view world patterns and phenomena from a financial perspective. Knowing this was an area I was interested to explore, I further chose to do a double major in Finance. To me, Sociology is understanding the world through words while Finance is understanding the world in numbers.

All in all, I believe it is important to take a vested and active interest in the field you choose to study as it is the best way to stay excited and open to new opportunities in SMU and beyond!

Q2. What are some ways which SMU has helped prepare and groom you for your career and the working world?

Definitely, SMU’s interactive pedagogy and class curriculum has nurtured my confidence and ability to articulate my thoughts effectively. The emphasis on quality class participation has pushed me to formulate, conceptualize and summarize my thoughts quickly and clearly.  

In addition, I feel that SMU’s culture encourages one to explore and step out of one’s comfort zone. This was something that pushed me in university as well. SMU has a whole range of CCAs to explore your interests, develop skill-sets or even take up leadership positions.  I leveraged on SMU’s holistic education by joining the SMU Ambassadorial Corps, and took up a leadership role as the Vice-President of SMU Challenge 2018. Such experiences nurtured me to be a confident orator when engaging with key stakeholders and taught me to think on my feet when tackling knotty questions. My leadership experience as the Vice-President of SMU Challenge 2018 also trained me on how to work with different individuals in diverse teams, be decisive, manage conflicts and create a collaborative work culture. 

Q3. What is your biggest takeaway or learning from your SMU-X modules or your internships?

In the summer holidays, I did an internship at Amazon Web Services to explore the technology industry. Personally, it provided me with a hands-on opportunity of enhancing my learning experiences in school through the working world. For instance, my internship experience taught me to adapt quickly and learn fast, to quickly understand my manager’s working style, as well as embrace the company’s culture. Amazonians are customer-obsessed; – we anticipate customers’ needs. This taught me to work effectively and efficiently by working backwards starting from customers’ expectations.

Lastly, my internship experience also gave me an opportunity to network with other inspiring and ambitious individuals whom I can learn from! One of the friends that I made at AWS challenged me to go the extra mile in networking and completing my projects, which was something I appreciated greatly.

Q4: Do you have any advice for the new batch of freshmen coming to SMU this August?

Always take time to reflect on your journey and celebrate small achievements. Also, invest in yourself in all aspects of your life that you would like to see progress in. That way, not only will you be an excellent student, but also learn to become a better person in every facet of life. I hope your university days will be a time where you will grow to become a kinder, more capable individual who can ultimately make an impact to society and the people around you in your own unique ways!