HE WANTED a 'head start' in his career.
So he gave up his leisure time to do an internship during his school holidays.
It turned out to be a good decision by SIM Global Education (SIM GE) student Alwyn Low, 25, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Business, to be awarded by University of London (UOL).
At the end of his 10-week internship at LTC LLP (Certified Public Accountants), he was told there would be a job available for him after he graduates next year.
Mr Ravi Arumugam, a senior partner and the head of the Audit and Advisory unit at LTC LLP, said: 'After graduation, he can submit his CV to us without going through the interview process.
'We expect to have vacancies at the junior level, so I asked the audit managers to recommend good performers from each batch of interns.
'The audit managers and audit seniors whom Alwyn worked for found him to be responsible, dedicated, and he was able to perform tasks assigned to him with little supervision.'
Mr Arumugam said interns are initially given simple tasks, but the level of complexity of the tasks increases as the internship progresses.
Mr Low noted that his internship duties included 'not just casting and vouching', but also executing other audit procedures and assisting audit seniors in audit planning.
Casting means adding up figures and ensuring accuracy.
Vouching is the matching of details in accounting records against supporting documentary evidence, like a transaction slip, to ensure accuracy, completeness and validity of an account balance or transaction.
He said: 'I was able to do more challenging work like analytical reviews. I was given the responsibility and flexibility to perform audit procedures on my own, but the audit managers and audit seniors guided me along if I had difficulties.'
He explained that during the review of his work, the audit managers and audit seniors would point out if there are areas that need further investigation or substantiation.
Besides a full-time UOL degree at SIM GE, Mr Low is also studying part-time for a professional accounting qualification.
He said his internship provided a 'realism' that was missing from book-learning.
He explained: 'What I learnt in class is formatted for exams, but in real life, we often have to improvise.'
The knowledge he acquired in school was also reinforced by his internship.
Mr Low noted how assessing various clients' information systems helped to flesh out what he learnt in a SIM-UOL module, Information Systems and Organisations.
'I saw how different organisations - from a statuary board to a listed company - use different systems to fit their needs.'
His internship gave him a 'holistic view' of auditing as well.
He said: 'I realised that it takes a positive attitude and commitment to make auditing a career.
'The work hours are long and the technical work can be demanding. Every client presents a new challenge and situation.'
Mrs Ho Soon Eng, the director of Student Life and Services at SIM, said the internships complement students' academic education as it helps them define their career paths and gives them a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace.
She said: 'We hope to give students the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a real-world context.
'They also get to network and develop contacts with professionals in their field.'
She said nearly 500 students have participated in SIM's internship programme since it started in 2003.
Mrs Ho noted that employers benefit from the internship programme too.
'The SIM internship programme is an excellent platform for employers to tap into a valuable source of young, energetic and capable talents,' she said.
'It is also a cost-effective way for employers to assess students' suitability for possible employment upon graduation.'
Supervisors are asked to provide feedback to SIM on the intern's performance mid-way through and after the internship.
Gaining 'an extra edge' was why SIM GE graduate Amira Zakiah Jantan, 23, opted to do an internship with the People's Association (PA).
She has just completed her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Marketing, awarded by University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
She said: 'I wanted to intern to broaden my understanding about the corporate world and gain the necessary experience for me to go further.'
She handled an array of duties during her internship, such as researching, conceptualising and developing content for PA branding projects.
She also helped out with the Good Neighbour Award, National Day Celebrations and PA's 50th anniversary celebration.
Other ad-hoc projects that she was involved in included helping to put together the annual report, doing research on various community clubs, residents' committee and neighbourhood committees, as well as writing about the experiences of PA staff for the Intranet.
She said: 'The internship gave me the opportunity to learn many new things that I hadn't been exposed to previously.
'Almost all the modules that I took in the SIM-UB programme, like Public Relations, Advertising Techniques and Promotion, have helped me to assist my colleagues at PA to the best of my abilities.'
THE SIM Internship Programme gives organisations the opportunity to identify industry-ready talents for their manpower requirements.
Employers who wish to participate in the programme can contact Ms Violet Tay at 62489204 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in The New Paper on .