Internship opened her window to the world

With Asia's growth, international companies are looking to the region to establish bases and for talented people to lead them. The Economic Development Board has in place talent-grooming programmes so that Singaporeans can meet the demand for business leaders. In the final of a seven-part series, Arti Mulchand talks to three people involved in such programmes.

WHEN the school holidays came around each year, Ms Joann Tan's friends often shared itineraries for travel and fun. Her nose, however, was buried in the Classifieds, seeking out job opportunities.

Between finishing her O levels and getting her Diploma in Tourism and Resort Management at Singapore Polytechnic, she tried her hand at close to a dozen different jobs, including data entry work, telemarketing and waitressing.

While doing her degree in Social Science (Communications and New Media) at the National University of Singapore, she did internships with the communications departments of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the ibis hotel chain and MasterCard.

"I guess I loved working more than studying, so I was always searching for opportunities.

"I got to learn things I never would in school, and found out what I did and did not like. Plus, I got paid and was beefing up my resume," says the 24-year-old.

It was through her MasterCard internship in December last year that she learnt of the EDB's careeraccelerating Management Associate Programme for promising young graduates. In July this year, she made the cut and joined MasterCard full-time.

She is now a management associate in the Consumer Credit team of MasterCard's Global Products and Solutions unit, which works with financial institutions to develop, manage and maintain different tiers and types of credit products across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. "We provide the technology that allows the card to work, and that makes the process safe, simple and smart," she says. "Consumers can securely buy any item, from education to insurance. So it's not just about shopping and shoes."

A normal workday includes preparing for meetings and workshops, as well as a lot of research on what, when and why people buy, not just in Singapore. It gives her the daily dose of the diversity that she loves at MasterCard.

She works regularly with colleagues from India, Indonesia, France and the Philippines. In September, when she attended a 10-day global orientation for new hires at MasterCard's headquarters in New York, she met colleagues from even farther afield.

As part of the programme, she will finish a year with the department before spending her second year in a more client-facing role within the markets division.

Ms Tan, who loves LAN gaming, working out and volunteering, admits that the job took some getting used to.

"I was an arts student so the jargon and technical terms were unfamiliar," she says. "I just read a lot and asked a lot of questions. It's really just about adapting to various situations."

This article was first published on Nov 24, 2014.

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