Learning for the real world

Actuarial Science student Yim Chieh Ying gives a first-hand account of the benefits of the Work-Study Programme (WSP).

Entering university can be an exciting and nerve-racking experience for many. For freshmen, it is natural to be overwhelmed by a new environment or feel unsure of what to pursue in the future.

If you share these concerns, don’t worry! The compulsory Professional Attachment (PA) in Year 1 is a great opportunity to gain exposure to practical work experience, where you can explore your interests and take on something you enjoy.


Discover your interests

NBS offers various Work-Study Programmes (WSPs) across diverse fields. As part of this programme, you will spend 8 months on a full-time internship while still being able to clear core modules. Since it is also credit-bearing, it has helped to clear all my Unrestricted Electives (UEs) which translates to more time to explore other activities in my last semester.

I’ve always been interested in statistics and Actuarial Science. Since this is a niche industry, it can be challenging to secure an actuarial internship with limited technical knowledge. But due to the flexibility of the WSP I got to learn theoretical concepts in school, while getting real work experience. Also, as actuarial modules are fixed every semester, this would allow me to graduate as scheduled without having to take a Leave of Absence (LOA).


Gain real-world experience

As the pioneer batch of the actuarial WSP, I took on a 35-week long internship with Prudential Assurance Company Singapore as an Actuarial Pricing intern. I did model reviews and supported regulatory projects for the launch or repricing of products. Outside of peak periods, I also worked on system enhancements and played around with pricing spreadsheets, that gave me an in-depth first-hand experience on the pricing process.

It was an eye-opening experience in understanding how actuaries from various teams work together as well as an opportunity to hone my skills in various Microsoft Office applications such as Excel and VBA. I even had the opportunity to embark on an innovation project with interns across different departments that required us to solve real business problems. Working across teams, we had to gather data and feedback on the ground level and stretch our creativity to develop a fresh and innovative solution to the business issue.

Initially, I felt quite overwhelmed by Business As Usual (BAU) tasks as everyone around me was already very experienced and proficient in actuarial programming. While there was a steep initial learning curve, I am incredibly grateful to my manager and the team for patiently guiding me and creating a nurturing environment for me to learn in.


Maintain your balance

Time management was also another area I had to be mindful of. On top of work, I took 2 actuarial modules – Life Contingencies & Demography and Actuarial Statistics. Having to balance 2 content heavy modules was tough. I had to practice great self-discipline to keep up with tutorials and still find time to revise for finals outside of work hours. With commitments as EXCO of the Actuarial Science Club, I had to prioritise my responsibilities and plan wisely.


Pick up invaluable life skills

If I were to give some tips - Start early, and do not hesitate to clarify any doubts with your professors. The professors at NBS have been very patient in guiding me through complex concepts and problems; you just have to take the first step!

Looking back on my WSP experience, my greatest takeaway would be the new connections with my colleagues and fellow interns. I really appreciate how interns are treated like full-time employees and get assigned tasks that we can make a meaningful contribution to. One of the most memorable parts of my internship was having the opportunity to organise a townhall for the actuarial department with my peers. The time spent together working on this project during our finals period although short, was invaluable and fulfilling!

The WSP also helped improve my technical skills. Through my daily tasks, I am now able to better understand technical concepts and apply my programming skills in school. This has been exceptionally helpful with actuarial modules that I’m taking in my last semester and certainly gives me an edge in the real world.

It has also pushed me out of my comfort zone by building my confidence in sharing ideas in a group context and developing my critical thinking skills. This was only possible through the valuable insights shared by my team, that have helped me to grow and challenge my limits.

All in all, the WSP has helped me develop important skillsets that cannot be taught in the classrooms, as well as forge valuable memories that I will cherish fondly. It has truly been a fruitful experience and one that I would encourage you to explore. All the best on embarking on a new journey in life!