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Overseas internship proves to be life-changing stint for poly student

Third-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Chew Jing Hong, 23, interned for six months with electronics manufacturer Aztech Technologies, of which the last three months were at Aztech's Dong Guan facility in China.
Third-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Chew Jing Hong, 23, interned for six months with electronics manufacturer Aztech Technologies, of which the last three months were at Aztech's Dong Guan facility in China.PHOTO: AZTECH GROUP

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Chew Jing Hong got a first-hand taste of life in the manufacturing sector when he worked for three months at a plant in southern China that was the size of 11 football fields.

His job was to test products like lights similar to those in Housing Board blocks' corridors to ensure they were waterproof and would not dim or flicker randomly.

The stint at the Dong Guan plant was part of his six-month internship with Singapore-based electronics manufacturer Aztech Technologies and has proved to be a life-changing stint.

Instead of focusing on information technology, Mr Chew, 23, a network systems and security major, is now open to undertaking a degree in engineering.

He was one of 11 Singaporean interns Aztech sent abroad last year to gain work experience and market knowledge overseas.

Its efforts complement the Government's bid to help more young Singaporean workers venture further afield, which in turn will allow them to support their firms' expansion plans.

Budget 2019 announced that existing local and overseas internship programmes will be combined into a Global Ready Talent Programme that will provide more funding for students who plan to intern overseas with Singapore firms.

The programme will also support high-growth local companies to send citizens with up to three years' work experience for postings in markets such as South-east Asia, China and India.

 
 
 
 
 

"With the increased emphasis on globalisation, Aztech recognises the importance of international work and culture exposure for Singapore youth," said a company spokesman.

Aztech's internship programme started in 2009 and it now sends about six to eight students to overseas operations each year.

"We initially started with one polytechnic and now, work with three polytechnics and three universities," he said.

Apart from its three-month programme in Dong Guan, Aztech is expanding its internship locations to include its Shenzhen research and development centre from this year.

Mr Chew told The Straits Times: "I would strongly advise Singaporeans to go on such trips if they have the chance.

"I had heavier responsibilities and could work at my own pace, which tested my time management skills. I also gained hands-on experience working with machines found in big manufacturing plants that are rare in Singapore."

He is now keen to expand his horizons elsewhere.

"It really changed my perspective. All along, I'd been a frog in a well," he said, referring to the Chinese saying, which describes a person with a limited world view.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Overseas internship proves to be life-changing stint for poly student'. Print Edition | Subscribe