Thursday, November 18, 2010

Final reflection of ES2007S

It is another end of a semester.But this time it is different because of the change brought by the ES2007S course on me. There is so much I have learnt in this class from every discussion, writing practice and project meeting. I always comment on my classmates' posts that how this module is beneficial and I will share with you my opinions and gains from this course in this semester.

One idea I came up with today is the whole module in my perception is around the idea of being considerate or "you" attitude.
Being considerate in conflict solving is to know the conflict from the other side in the first place not yours. It enables to understand the concern and the need of the target you are dealing with. That is why we use direct or indirectly approach to find out the other side's perception on certain conflict from right beginning.
Being considerate in culture is to understand and respect the difference of other cultures without posing your prejudice on your perception of the cultures. That is what we talk about no prejudice about culture and be culturally sensitive.
Being considerate in CV and application letter writing is to know the need of the company and portray yourself with your own information to meet the company's need.
Being considerate in the mock interview for your job is to know the expectation of the interviewer about the question as well as performance of employee and the rationale for the questions.
Being considerate in the project is to understand the need of the students in NUS and the impact of the problem on relevant parties. Then you come up with the solution that can be accepted and bring real benefits to all groups involved in this problem.
Therefore the critical idea in professional communication is to be considerate about the communication target. This is what I summarized from this course. The reason I put it in the first place is that it is the mindset which changed me in this course. When talking about mindset, the other skills and techniques would be subordinated as they are just tools and means originating from this mindset.

Talking about the skills and techniques, I think I have the list in our last class from different categories. I do see a significant improvement on myself. For the most memorable improvement from this class, I would pick the mock interview and project management.

The mock interview is a fresh experience for me even though I have gone through dozens of interviews for the three years in NUS. It is my first time to be interviewed for a job and become a interviewer myself. I have to admit that role playing is very powerful. When you are in that position of interviewer, your whole mindset and thinking is like a real company HR officer. It offers you the chance to understand the expectation from the interviewers when they ask every question. You can even feel what they probably feel about certain responses of the interviewee. You suddenly become sensitive about every move and wording from the interviewee. It is tremendously beneficial for the preparation of the interview. Like a Chinese proverb, you should target on their preference.

The project is undoubtedly a mega event for me in this module. It account it as my first time to lead a team for project. It is also the first time I have clear timeline and schedule for a project with agenda and minutes for every meeting. I learnt to how to trust your teammates even though there sometimes are discrepancies from your expectation as I am a highly demanding person. This project turned to be a perfect practice for me and the outcome is amazingly good. I would like to thank here again for my teammates' efforts, creativity and diligence. They are really responsible for their role in this project. From setting down the topic in McDonald's to surveying 60+ students in techno Edge during the peak hours without lunch, we all devote our precious time and effort in this project. In other way, I have identified my personality and drawbacks from the interaction with my teammates and conduction of this project. For instance, improvement is possible for my presentation style and overcoming my ill-patience and prejudice are conductive for me and any project.

This course has taught for every minute through discussion, practice, peer feedback and project. They all aim to make me a better person in communication with the rest of the world. I sincerely thank Mr. Blackstone for his acceptance of me in this class since I decided to join this course at a very late timing.I am also grateful of my classmates. Without them, this course would never be such lively, interesting and rewarding.I love this module and hope more NUS students from Science and Engineering would have the chance in their four years in NUS to sit in the tutorial room listening to Brad's legendary life experience.

19 November, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reflection of Project presentation

I have not done any presentation for quite a while already since most engineering modules do not require the presentation in the module scope. Thus the project presentation of ES2007S becomes a precious opportunity for practicing all the skills and key points we have picked up from this course.

To recall the presentation on this Tuesday, I could point out something I could pay attention to in the future practice.

Firstly, I experienced some blank out moments in my brain when the words came out from my mouth did not match with what I have prepared. Just this little deviation would put me in a state of panic since all the tone, feeling and pace were disturbed. I could identify these moments when I came to a pause or talked about some ill-grammar sentences. In addition, I tended to turn to the screen even though it did not help when I was stuck.

Secondly, I feel my pace is a little fast. I could justify it as my style of articulating but the problem lying in this would be the words were mumbled in my mouth which affected the clearness of my speech. However, when I tried to slow down, I tended to forget what I was going to say. It seems the pace of speeching pulls down the processing speed of my brain as well. As a result, I would try to pour all the stuffs in my brain out before they are totally gone.

Thirdly, I found that I lacked a tempo in my presentation in terms of pause, emphasis and tone. This is a advanced requirement of presentation which is associated with the personality and speech style of individual. A good tempo could bring audience enjoyment and easier capture of the presentation content. I hope to improve on this which is also a way to build personal charms.

Last, I am not a good story teller. My story or example used in presentation seemed more like a fact statement. If a story could not be told in the story-telling way which attracts the audience and offer them the surprise, the effect of telling a story would be downplayed. It is not easy to be a good story-teller. Maybe I should start from telling fairy tales.

That is what I think I can do better in future presentation. I would thank again my teammates, Pavi, Yong feng and Forest for their diligence and all the efforts put in this project and presentation. The whole project is really an enjoyable process and I appreciate their genius and mutual help to achieve such a good outcome. Thanks for other classmates being at our presentation and shooting us with all the brilliant and challenging questions.

It is an amazing presentation and so are the people.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drinking and Beach - that is all about Canadian?

This summer, I was lucky to get a chance to go to University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada for a shor-term summer course jointedly with the UBC students. We spent three weeks in Vancouver for project before returning to Singapore together for staying for another two weeks. At the end of the course, some of us joined the Canadian counterparts to pay a short trip to Bali island for a relaxation. During this nearly two-month long intinate mingling with the Canadian peers, some of the cultural difference emerged during the trip, project between the Singaporean students, Chinese students (there are 4 from NUS side), and Canadian students (just nationality, if categorized by races, it would be more complex ranging from Italian, Pakistani, Korean, Chinese as well as Vietnamese).

One of the obvious differences in culture would lie in the life style for leisure and travel. I perfectly understand that the life style is very personalized, varying with individuals not necessary connected to the culture. However, the colleactive behaviors of the Canadian students are so aligned and when I compared that with what I reflect as a common and traditional Chinese lifestyle and way of travelling, I was still surprised and intrigued by the cultural differneces.

The first difference I encountered that the Canadian were extremed enthusiastic about party including endless of clubbing and drinking. I know it is also happened in Singapore and China for the young generation as well, but what I was surprised was the frequency. There could be three to four chances in one week for drinking in the evening, either a drinking session held in the dormitry lounge back in UBC or going out for clubbing. It seems that the minlging time with the UBC students were mostly spent with alcohol. For me, I probably have finished the whole year's quota for alcohol if there is any. From the observation on NUS side, only several people accepted their invitation for drinking either in Vancouver or Singapore every time. None of us is actually a party monster who went for every session arranged. Sometimes this created some perceptions on UBC people that they thought the students from NUS were not active and open enough. On our side, rejection for the invitation every time seesms a little embarassment for us as well especially when we were guests in UBC. Even thoigh in the whole course, there was no conflict occured but I could smell slight uneasiness is present on both sides.

The second difference occured when we were in Singapore and Bali. The UBC counterparts seemed only passinate and enthuastic about the sunshine, sand and sea which they spent most of the trip on the beach either sunbath or surf(in Bali), of course the other time was spent withe alcohol. It was probably normal to understanf for tourists to come to Singapore and Bali for the beach but I meant the two places were not all about beaches. In a Chinese way of travelling, we visited every place of interest and took pictures of the scenary and us hastily before rushing to the next spot. Beach is just one of the spots in our journey and mostly we spent the time walking and taking pictures on the beach rather than lie down to have a sun tan. It is just not our way to enjoy a trip like the Canadians valuing the beach and relevant activities as their major objective visting the Southeast Asian island, like Singapore and Bali.

In this experience, the differences in life styles and beliefs of travellin which I included in the culture forced me to take different approaches in communication and perceptions. For example, I went for clubbing for my first time in life so far and I had no idea why they were so crazy about it. But I tried not to judge them by that and accepted their life stlyle even not agreed with that. Upon the travelling issue. it was a difference case. As they were so aligned in their interest and beliefs, it would difficult for me to express my feeling that I didnot feel like spending all the time on the beach only when there were so many things to explore since it would ruin the group plan. Therefore in the whole trip, I followed their arrangement and tried to enjoy the Canadian way of travelling.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Application letter for internship in Citibank

Background information:

Targeted corporation: Citibank Singapore

Job: Global Marketing Internship for 6 months


#12-00, 3 Temasek Avenue,

Centennial Tower,

Singapore 039190

Tel: +65 6225 5221

Fax: +65 6328 6256

6 September, 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am currently a year three undergraduate student in National University of Singapore. I am writing this email to you to seek for a summer internship in Citibank’s Singapore branch. I hear from the campus recruitment talk in NUS last month that applicants can directly apply for the internship in Citibank by dropping their application information any time to Citibank. I have a strong interest and preference in the Global Marketing division and hope I can have the honor to work in the Citibank.

I chose Citibank as my first choice in career of financial industry because of its great corporation culture and working environment which will provide me the best stage to develop and utilize my talents and potential. I am majoring in chemical engineering in NUS and the study lays me the profound foundation in systematic thinking and polishes my trouble-shooting skills to deal with practical and real-life problems. This provides me the enormous advantages when dealing with the world of numbers and digits which requires the comprehensive and critical thinking.

I am also in the University Scholars Program in NUS and the experience offers me exclusive opportunities to expose to diverse fields and cultures, gaining me a global vision. These skill sets and characteristics will facilitate me to be competent for the global marketing job and excel in it.

It would be my great honour if I can have the chance to experience the culture in Citibank for the next year. Thank you for reviewing my resume and considering me a candidate for the internship.

Yours sincerely,


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Struggle and Strive

Last night, I made a phone call to my parents back in China. It has been two weeks since our last quarrel over the phone. The guilt and depression still occupy my mind and spread over through my trembling voice.

The quarrel started when I tried to communicate with them about my future plan. I approached them with hope to have them giving advice to for my decision about my next two years in the college. I have been puzzled and hesitated for a long time about making the final decision from numerous options: exchange or internship, further study or work. I personally want to go for exchange which would surely be a lot of fun and a memorable time in my university life. For my path after graduation, I am vague about what fields and areas I should pick up for further study on a master degree. However, it somehow contradicts to my parents’ expectation from me. They are not intrigued by the idea of spending half a year exposing to a totally different life style. It is just some optional and luxurious entertainment for university life. They prefer me to taking an internship instead in order to gain some working experience for finding a job after graduation. They are really pragmatic in planning my life. Internship, graduation with honors, master degree in financial industry and find a job in an investment bank, they have paved my life path for even next ten years. They seem to know my future better than me. I am not that mad about their planning and I surely understand their intention since I have ever tried to motivate myself along this path. However, it does not trigger the passion inside me and make me feel the happiness and satisfaction as much as I expect. The tricking thing is that I have no idea what I enjoy doing and what I am passionate about. It makes me depressed when my parents convince me to follow their advice.

I try to defuse this dilemma by following the first step in their plan which is to take an internship as what they advised. I try to treat it as a chance for me to get different exposures. Therefore I can judge from my experience to conclude whether this career path suits me a lot. It is surely beneficial but I have to sacrifice the chance of immersing in a foreign culture. To make this up, I will try to spend my vocational time on short-term overseas programs and trips. I will try to convince my parents that I will be responsible for my own choice and I will not regret for any decision I am making now. There is no reason for me to bother myself with something I am not fully controlling. Even though I am still vague about what is coming around, I am pretty sure it would turn up to be something surprising only I am embarking on it.

I am sure it is pretty common for you to have similar experience or struggles. I confess it would be great luck for you if you know what you are passionate about. Then it is just a question about how to achieve it. But unfortunately, I am not one of them and probably I have to spend the rest of my lifetime to seek for it. Therefore I am curious about you, my readers, do you have anything that you are passionate about and willing to work as a career? Furthermore, what do you really value at current life stage, happiness or satisfaction gained from overperforming your peers? To elaborate the latter question, I mean we are mostly motivated by the peer pressure instead of our own interest and agenda. We are forcing to strive for something which is honored and valued by the public and we are evaluating and judging ourselves with external criteria like success in career and social status. Is it really what you want and mark for your life? I just doubt and hope to hear from your behalf.

Highlights of Effective Communication

On 23rd August of this year which is just a week ago, a tourist bus was hijacked by a former Philippine officer with 15 Hong Kong tourists as hostages. Philippine police started their rescue plan after being reported of this crime. During the process, the police made unforgivable mistakes in communicating with the hijacker which led to a catastrophic result of eight casualties of the hostages in a coup led by the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) force. The whole world was stunned and the public of Hong Kong and mainland of China were furious about the daft decision made by Philippine police during the rescuing. After the incident, experts commented on the communication mistakes made by the police. One of the points is the lack of you attitude of the Philippine police like refusing of the hijacker’s request in the first place which leaves no room for further negotiation. This miserable tragedy highlights the importance of effective communication with a cost of eight lives.

Maybe we are far away from any tragedy like that, but it does not depreciate the significance of communication in our daily life. From my personal understanding, effective communication delivers two messages as how the phrase is composed. Communication functions as the channels and methods for people to obtain information and convey ideas to surrounding people. If we put the exchange of information at the base level of the communication pyramid, the enhancing of interpersonal relationship comes to a higher hierarchy which includes building of friendship and partnership, enhancing neutral trust and expressing personal emotions. This is sometimes regarded as the leaping step for human beings to evolve from our ancestral apes. The second messages will focus on the ‘effective’ part. Only knowing the importance of communication is not enough to conduct a successful one. With the facilitation of relevant skills and following guidelines, people are able to achieve the desired effect and respond from their communication. The skills guarantee the messages and information will be delivered to the targeting audience clearly and concisely. Furthermore, it enlarges the possibility for persuading the clients and ensures their acceptance of the messages. Last but not least, the friendly and professional impression will be marked on the audiences by effective communication. Your words represent you.

Taking myself as example, the effective communication provides numerous benefits in my dealing with peer classmates, professors, school office staffs, and also friends home and abroad. It saves a lot of trouble and avoids any misunderstanding due to my poor communication. It also aids to resolve personal conflicts especially with my parents. The generation gap and different contexts between Singapore and China builds up the obstacle for mutual understanding and effective communication. What is the conflict about and how does it pop up? How will affect my relation with my family and how will it be resolved? If you love to dig it up, please keep your eyes on my update for next blog entry.