Bringing out his strengths and talents

Student Alvin Park is one determined young man.

He is determined to play a role in saving the environment, having always loved nature.

And as Mr Park finishes up his Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) degree at Curtin University Singapore, he is one step closer to realising his dream.

“I am a person who enjoys the simplicity and beauty of nature. Since we are benefitting more from it than nature from us, it is our right to ‘take care’ of the environment,” he said, listing actor Leonardo Dicaprio, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenya’s former environment minister Wangari Maathai and Silent Spring author Rachel Carson as his inspiration.

Designing marketing campaigns at places like National Geographic and WildAid is his ideal job, and “Curtin has made it possible for me to be part of it (helping the environment) by giving and teaching me the right skills of marketing to educate the public”.

But he almost missed the chance to merge his passion for the environment into a career. The 23-year old of Korean and Singaporean parentage initially took up a double-major degree – Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Marketing) – with the thought to work in a bank. He did, after all, graduate with a business management diploma from Nanyang Polytechnic. Moving to finance seemed like a natural progression.

It was during his Curtin classes that he discovered his true strengths and talents. More specifically, they were unearthed with the help of his lecturers.

“The school has sharpened my skills for the future. I’ve also picked up personal skills, which are taught indirectly, such as adaptability, awareness and networking skills.”

He added that he was looking forward to the Business Capstone Module to further enhance his interpersonal skills. The module bundles students from various majors into groups of four, after which each group is thrown into a scenario which they then have to manage. The “situation” gives students a brief “outside world” experience of where individuals of varied academic backgrounds, perspectives and expertise work together as a team to reach a common goal.

The Business Capstone Module is just one aspect of Curtin University Singapore that enticed Mr Park to sign up with the school.

The deciding factor was the standalone campus and accompanying facilities.

"I was impressed by the campus and facilites. Other private schools in Singapore do not have their own campuses.

“The standalone campus tells me of the strong financial ability the school has in student investment. It also shows that the school is serious in giving its students a proper environment – as compared to most shared facilities by other private schools – to study and excel in,” he said.

The library comes with accessible computers and printing machines, while the lecture halls are spacious with proper equipment for both teachers and students to present and showcase their work.

It also helped that he received a generous exemption of 12 out of 24 units, due to the business-related subjects he studied during his polytechnic days. Furthermore, Curtin University Singapore offers three-trimester academic years.

All in, Mr Park only needs 12, instead of 24, months to complete his degree. Into his second-last semester, he looks set to graduate in March 2014.

His immediate plans after graduation: to enrol in one of the Korean universities for a year to brush up on his Korean-language skills before looking for a job there.

Explaining his decision: “I am half-Korean, and I would like to spend a few years in Korea.” Admittedly, he is a tad concerned, having heard about the long hours that Korean companies expect their staff to work.

He also dreads leaving his friends in Singapore behind during this period. But while he is still in Singapore, he continues to enjoy the friendships he has built, including those from his stint at Curtin University Singapore: “At the end of the day, not everything is about project work, and we are also encouraged to develop friendships for networking purposes in the modules that we learnt.”

The bonds have been strengthened through meals, late-night outings and karaoke sessions. Will he miss these activities with his friends when he is away in Korea? Sure. But the upside: Being in Korea means that he has taken yet another step towards his dream career.