SINGAPORE - Ms Bernice Chan was only 19 when she went to China to intern on a farm run by seafood supply chain manager Oceanus Group.
During her time at the farm in Xiamen in Fujian province, she did maintenance work, fed abalones and did preparation work for periods when baby abalones would spawn.
Now, the 21-year-old is working as a management trainee with the Singapore firm.
Ms Chan is an example of how young Singaporeans should go overseas to gain exposure and work experience, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on Monday (Feb 18).
"By giving young Singaporeans overseas exposure, they can develop new skills to better support our firms' overseas expansion," he said.
To this end, he announced a programme to enhance funding support for students interning overseas with Singapore firms.
Ms Chan said: "The whole internship experience was eye opening for me. It was a lot of fun working closely with the locals. I learnt a lot, from interpersonal skills to technical skills.
"My favourite parts were trying to learn the locals' dialect, learning the culture and working closely with them to pick up technical skills and knowledge about these little crawling creatures."
She said she chose to study Marine Science and Aquaculture in Republic Polytechnic because she enjoyed exploring and learning new things.
Her dream then was to be a shark biologist to study sharks and work closely with them.
She said: "I am not one to stay put and be conventional, I prefer to go around exploring and if I get the opportunity to do so, I would hop on it."
Now, she is part of the operations team at the Oceanus farm where she had been an intern.
She helps with data collection and analysis and conducts experiments to learn more about abalones.
She said: "Overseas internships are important because you're given the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different environment and a different working culture that tests yourself to go beyond your limits. It's amazing what you can gain from just five months in a different surrounding."