Big boost for business internships at Ngee Ann polytechnic

Part of $8.7m donation from Ngee Ann Kongsi will help fund stints at global enterprise hubs

Final-year international business student Eugene Chua is one of a handful of students going to Jakarta for an internship under the Global Entrepreneurship Internship Programme.
Final-year international business student Eugene Chua is one of a handful of students going to Jakarta for an internship under the Global Entrepreneurship Internship Programme. PHOTO: NGEE ANN POLYTECHNIC

More students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) will be able to pursue their dreams of starting their own businesses by going on stints with start-ups at global enterprise hubs such as Silicon Valley.

Yesterday, the polytechnic received a cheque donation of $8.71 million from Teochew philanthropic organisation Ngee Ann Kongsi.

Part of the money will go to schemes like the Global Entrepreneurship Internship Programme (GEIP), a new initiative which exposes students to life at the world's leading innovation hubs.

A survey by the polytechnic last year found that about one in five of its students is keen on becoming an entrepreneur.

The six-month GEIP was piloted in March this year. Students were attached to start-ups in Silicon Valley, allowing them to put their learning into practice and build networks.

More than 30 students were nominated to go on the programme earlier this year, but only 10 were picked after a stringent process involving four rounds of interviews by the polytechnic and the start-ups. Most of the 10 have started or indicated plans to start an enterprise.

Final-year business information technology student Daphne Goh, 19, was among those who made the cut. She has since completed an internship with a social media marketing firm. Her tasks included customer relations and conducting business analysis.

What struck her most about Silicon Valley was that no idea is considered "stupid". She said a takeaway for her is learning "to be courageous enough to take risks and pursue things I am passionate about".

"Working at a start-up allows me to understand how a company runs and see problems it faces on a daily basis," she said. "This is important for students who are keen to start their own businesses in future."

Besides Silicon Valley, the GEIP will be rolled out from this month in Jakarta and Shanghai - two other places which have been buzzing with entrepreneurial activity.

Final-year student Eugene Chua, 19, who is pursuing an international business diploma, is one of a handful of students going to Jakarta.

"I am interested in the idea of start-ups and would like to understand how they are run," he said.

The polytechnic said there are plans for the GEIP to be available in 10 cities in three years' time.

  • A valuable stint in Silicon Valley

  • Final-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Ivan Cheong did not know what to expect when he embarked on the Global Entrepreneurship Internship Programme (GEIP) with a design start-up in Silicon Valley in April this year.

    But like any budding entrepreneur, the 22-year-old took the plunge anyway.

    "I decided to take the first step and apply since it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

    Mr Cheong, who is doing a diploma in mechanical engineering with business management, has since completed his six-month stint with the firm that specialises in architecture, interior and product design.

    His tasks included designing products that increase the level of convenience for individuals.

    The stint has given him an insight into running a start-up and provided him with opportunities to network with like-minded people, he said.

    "I've learnt that every aspect of the business plays a crucial part in its success, regardless of how insignificant the part may seem."

    Mr Cheong, who has plans to start his own apparel business in future, has since decided to delay his graduation to work on a project with the company, and will be extending his internship for another six months.

    He encouraged other entrepreneurial students to apply for the GEIP.

    "It will broaden their perspectives as they will get hands-on experiences and learn from the founders and supervisors of established start-up firms."

    Calvin Yang

Mr Tang Kin Fei, chairman of the NP Council, said the Kongsi's contributions have benefited more than 4,000 students yearly through scholarships, bursaries and grants. They have also helped the polytechnic start various local and overseas student development programmes.

He said: "We hope that NP will not only be a place to train and equip future employees to support our economy, but also a place to groom employers of the future."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline Big boost for business internships at Ngee Ann polytechnic. Subscribe