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Category Beyond Books & Browsers
14 September 2022

Jan in Singapore

Tag Entrepreneurship0
Tag Student Life

Jan in Singapore

An honest student report on the Entrepreneurship Exchange Program (Part 1)

Who am I and why am I writing this report?

Hey, I’m Jan, 21 years old, and currently spending the 5th semester of my BSc. Management & Technology degree on exchange in Singapore. In this report, I will share my honest opinion about the Entrepreneurship Exchange Program (EEP) and what I learned after working and studying in Singapore for slightly more than a month. My goal with this report is, that you can make a decision whether you should apply for EEP or not. Spoiler: I believe it's an awesome opportunity for everyone! Keep reading to find out why.

 

What is the EEP? 

TUM School of Management offers an exchange program within the area of entrepreneurship at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in collaboration with the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC). The so-called Entrepreneurship Exchange Program (EEP) consists of both an internship at a start-up company in Singapore and courses on entrepreneurship at NUS for a period of 5-6 months.

 

What are my first impressions about the EEP program after one month?

 

EEP will make you grow personally and professionally. Something that you will likely not get in a regular exchange.

 

You will realize that already during the application process. Proofing yourself to TUM School of Management (SoM), NUS, and a company in Singapore forces you to be clear on your skills and personality traits. At the end, you will come up with a bulletproof resumé, which you can use moving forward in your professional career. I am not saying that this is easy, but certainly worth going through.

By working in Singapore and studying at NUS Business school you meet inspiring people, build a great network and explore business ideas. If you want to become an entrepreneur, this is the place to be in. In my first weeks here, I chatted with more than 10 founders to understand how to start my businesses. Together with Munich, there are few places where you will get similar access to a startup ecosystem.

You might get the impression that working, studying and talking about business ideas is all we do here. Nevertheless, I can say that the program gives you a lot of flexibility to choose your schedule and do things that you like.

 

All my weekends so far were free. Together in our EEP group, we got to visit quite a few places in Singapore and Malaysia. For the upcoming months, we have more exciting trips planned. And yes, we go partying on the weekends too. More on that later.

Also, there will be hackathons and competitions in the future, where you can form teams with NUS or TUM SoM students and actually build your own startup.

Jan in Singapore (Part 2)
Everything you need to know about the application processes

Short recap of what the Entrepreneurship Exchange Program is

 

EPP is an exchange program offered by TUM School of Management in collaboration with the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) in Singapore. 10 students from TUM School of Management (bachelor or master) get the opportunity to do a 5-month off-campus internship (Aug to Dec OR Jan to Jun) at a start-up company in Singapore, whilst undertaking courses in the area of Management at NUS.

 

A link to the application portal will be posted in this document once active.

 

Why did I apply to EEP? (Three reasons that might convince you too)

 

I mentioned before, that personal and professional growth was my key motivation to do an exchange semester. There are three reasons why I choose EEP over a regular exchange to achieve that:

 

You get the chance to travel with a group of like-minded and motivated students from TUM SoM.

 

In my current batch, we are 6 students with very different backgrounds, but with similar motivations and interests. This creates an inspiring environment with a lot of potential for you to grow and make friends, which I imagine to be easier in the EEP context than in a regular exchange.

 

I get to do my project studies in a Singaporean company and be on exchange at the same time.

 

The internship as part of the EEP counts as your project study for the Management & Technology degree at TUM SoM. By itself, this might convince you to join the program. On top of that, you get the benefits of working at a Singaporean company. You have a great chance to expand your network and explore a different working culture.

 

Experiencing what studying at one of the best business schools in the world looks like

 

A quick Google search will tell you that NUS Business School, just like TUM SoM, ranks among the top business schools worldwide. Getting a chance to take classes here will certainly give you the chance to learn a lot.

 

Everything you need to know about the application process

 

Most importantly, who can apply?

 

You can apply to the Entrepreneurship Exchange Program (EEP) if you are a TUM School of Management undergraduate (at least 3rd semester) or graduate student with interest in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” You may wonder what interest means. From my understanding, you should be able to show and proof that you have done something entrepreneurial or innovative in the past. You don’t have to have own a business (I did not have one when I applied), but you should have tackled problems or challenges in an unusual way. If you still can’t think of anything, proof that you are someone who goes the extra mile and is eager to learn and grow.

 

When do you have to apply for the EEP?

 

The deadline to submit your

  • CV including motivational letter

  • Proof of Language proficiency (English C1; DAAD test is accepted but no older than 2 years.

  • Current transcript of records (and for bachelor students high school graduation transcript)

  • Matriculation certificate

 

for the WS23/24 EEP program is 5th December 2022.

With the submission of these three documents, you have officially applied to EEP.

 

How does the remaining timeline for the applicatioon process look like?

 

The International Office team will review your application and, in January, potentially invite you to a personal fit interview (no need to solve math or business problems here). If you pass the Interview, you first get to decide whether you want to go to Singapore during TUMs winter or summer semester.

Note: Look at your TUM exam schedule and see if you will be able to take your exams in the semester you intend to leave!! Once I come back to germany I have to retake 4 exams in that I was not able to attend during my last semester at TUM.

 

The next few steps follow the same flow independent of when you decide to start. NUS will provide you with a list of startup companies where you get to select your top 5 choices. We had a total of around 50 startups from all kinds of industries on that list. Some or all companies will shortlist you for another round of interviews, and potentially make you an offer.

Alongside you will have to do a few administrative things like

  • Apply at NUS (just a formality, after getting into EEP you also got into NUS)

  • Apply for your Work Holiday Pass (The Visa type you will get to enter Singapore)

  • Start looking for off-campus in case you are not interested in on campus housing.

  • Look for potential flights, although NUS recommends to not book to early.

 

Where to find help during the application process?

 

For questions about the internship experience, student life, and general facts about Singapore reach out to past EEP students. For administrative questions contact the International Office team.

 

Insider tip: use the r/nus Reddit to ask questions about the companies you are considering joining. Usually, there are some students who know the founders personally or have some connection to previous interns that can give you some insights. From the start-up list and job descriptions, it might be hard to get an appropriate view of the company.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading second part of my article series on the EEP program. My next Instagram takeover will happen on the weekend of October 1st and 2nd. If you want to directly ask me any questions about the EEP, be sure to subscribe to TUM School of Management.

 

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next article where I will share more about student life and general tips about doing an exchange in Singapore.

Jan in Singapore (Part 3)
Experiences from my day-to-day life

I hope you enjoyed reading the the first two parts of this report. This last bit will cover what I experience on a day-by-day basis. This is supposed to be as transparent as possible, such that you guys can judge whether an exchange with EEP is suitable for you or not.

 

How many hours do I work?

 

As an EEP student you will likely face 50-60 hour working weeks. Monday through Thursday splits between 40 hours of work and around 4 hours of commuting. My company offers remote work on Tuesday’s and Thursdays, which provides me with some spare time. On Fridays, I work half-day because of the one class I am taking from 3-6 pm. On top of the lecture, I spent around 5 hours per week to prepare coursework. Some weekends I spend on writing the case study which counts as your project study equivalent at TUM School of Management. You will likely have to spend between 20-50 hours throughout the semester to finish it.

 

What does a typical day look like?

 

On office days I usually wake up between 7 and 7:30 am, get ready, sometimes eat breakfast in the canteen of my hall, and commute about 55 minutes to work. I work from 9 am to 6 pm with a one hour break anytime during the day. After commuting back home, I usually have dinner in the hall canteen again. From 8 to 10 pm my schedule really differs. Sometimes I do some last minute assignments for uni, one Tuesdays I join the weekly “Block Events” (different activities every week where all hall residents come together and do something fun), or catch up with friends and family overseas. The time difference to Germany is -7 hours, so evenings are the most convenient to call.

 

On remote work days, I usually wake up around the same time and go for a workout in the hall’s own gym (which is actually quite good). After eating breakfast, I often take the Bus called D1 from the Business School bus stop and head to U-Town. U-Town is like a small student city with a lot of amenities like a gym, a pool, food courts, study spots, cafes, and a large green field in the middle to hang out or do sports. I often end up studying at the tables next to Starbucks. For lunch options in U-Town, you can choose between two food courts: “Flavors” and “Fine Foods.” Both places have some very good restaurants that must give a try. In the evenings, you can join various different sport team activities. My evenings are usually very similar to other days.

Now, you might be wondering what we are doing on the weekends and if we even have time to enjoy the whether, travel, or party. Short answer: you can do all of the above, it just requires a bit more planning and you will not be able to do them as often as people on a regular exchange.

 

During my 5 months here, I traveled to South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. For the first trip, I used my 5 days of holiday to travel an entire week. The last two were weekend trips. Some of the regular exchange students get to travel multiple times for more longer than a weekend. So if you want to explore South East Asia very extensively, I recommend going for a regular exchange.

On weekends in Singapore, we got to visit the Gardens by the Bay, Botanic Gardens, did cycling and hiking tours, got to see the Formula 1 race and other events in the city, explored hawker centres, and much more. After 5 months I made many friends and we decided to go to Johor Bahru, which is the next closest Malaysian city by bus.

 

We also got to party on the weekends and sometimes even on Wednesdays for the parties at Cé La Vie. I have to mention that you can expect to pay between 15-40€ for entrance fee. Drinking is also a lot more expensive compared to Germany.

 

Where should you live in Singapore as EEP student?

 

You should live on campus if:

  • Your company is close to the campus (less than 45min according to Google Maps by public transport)

  • You want to experience proper student life with a lot of events

  • You are not extremely heat sensitive, because the rooms do not have air conditioning. (I considered myself so before coming here, and I am still fine)

  • You don’t want to spend 800€+ a month on an apartment

  • You have classes in person on campus

 

You should consider living off-campus, if:

  • Your company is located more than 60 minutes away from shears or kent ridge hall according to google maps + you don’t get any option to do home office (I travel 60 minutes, but I can work from home 3 days, which compensates for the travel time)

  • You cannot bear the heat at all

  • You don’t have to attend classes in person on campus

 

Look for off-campus housing on the following pages:

  • Roomies

  • Hemlet (if you have more budget)

  • PropertyGuru

 

Also look for housing near to MRT stations in Singapore. A map can be found here. The three lines that connect NUS with the city centre are the green (east-west) line and the yellow (circle) line by transferring to the blue (downtown) line. The stations in the very city centre are Raffles Place, Chinatown, City Hall, and Downtown.

 

Listings can get a bit confusing, but just schedule video calls with the landlords to see the apartments. If you decide to live off-campus, expect to pay around 800€ for a single room in a shared apartment.

 

What can get me in trouble in Singapore?

 

Singapore has many rules and they openly communicate what will happen if you don’t stick to them. A S$5000 dollar fine for feeding pigeons is just one example. However, there is no need to be overly concerned because many things that have huge fines won’t happen to you anyways. 

 

Here are a few rules that I was unsure about in the beginning:

  • You should not eat or drink anything inside the MRT trains, stations, and buses. Eating or drinking anywhere outside is usually not a problem unless there is a sign that tells you to not eat there.

  • In shopping malls, you are supposed to only consume food in the food court areas, but usually, a small snack while walking from one store to another will not get you in trouble.

 

Is Singapore that modern?

 

In terms of digitalization, Singapore certainly does quite a lot of things well, but can get bothersome at the same time.

Public transport is convenient. You can just tab your credit or debit card at the Bus and MRT station entrances. After seven days they will deduct the ticket fees from your bank account. Also, the ticket prices are very cheap here. The transport system, although reliable, is not very fast. Busses stop about every 300 meter which is why a 7 km trip will likely take you 55-60 minutes.

 

Paying and getting paid in Singapore is also quite “interesting”. If you have a master's or visa card, you will be able to pay at most places. However, some food courts will only accept QR code payments via apps such as DBS Paynow, Paylah, or similar ones. A few of us were able to set up bank accounts after one month of trying, others are still not successful.

 

A few key takeaways from the payment problems:

  • Apply for more than one bank account. Try HSBC, DBS (worked for a friend after one month of waiting), UOB, and OCBC.

  • No local uses Pay Pal here. They use apps such as Paynow to transfer money. In the beginning, you will always have to pay people back in cash.

  • Get a Nets prepaid card. This card is your only way to pay for laundromats in most university dorms. It will also work at most restaurants where you cannot pay with a master's or visa card.

 

What is the weather like? Do you need air conditioning?

 

After living here for 4 months, I can say that Singapore is hot, but not as hot as I thought. On normal days I will be around 30° Celcius, cloudy, 70-80% humidity a bit of wind, and have one rain shower. Be ready to appreciate every bit of sunshine because thick layers of clouds are quite common here. Once the sun is out however, I can get really hot and be sure to put on sunscreen!

 

Before I came here, I was quite worried about the heat and was looking for housing with air conditioning. Eventually, I still decided to live in a non-ac room in Shears hall on campus. My room only has a fan on the ceiling. Honestly, falling asleep during the first two weeks was challenging. Once you get used to it, I will be not that much of a problem anymore. The same goes for my 4 other friends who all live without AC in the dorms.

 

What does that mean for you? Don’t stress too much about finding accommodation with AC. Even if you cannot bear the heat, there is a high chance that you will get assigned a room which is eligible for using a portable AC. At the beginning of the semester, a list of all eligible rooms will be published. Officially registering AC will cost you $40 every week.

 

Final Thoughts

 

With all this info, you might still be unclear whether EEP is right for you or not. In short, I can recommend it to everyone who is looking for a challenge, prioritizes professional development of free-time and fun during an exchange, and has no big issues with the heat.

 

EEP will make you grow personally and professionally. Something that you will likely not get in a regular exchange.

 

I mentioned this is the first part, which I wrote after about 1 1/2 months and I still think it is true currently being in month 4. This chance, however, does not come without sacrifices. You will be working a lot and you will have less flexibility for travelling. If you can live with both, than you should definitely apply to EEP.

 

If you think you personal or professional background do not meet the requirements to apply for EEP, don’t worry. Just apply! There is nothing you can lose, but so much you can gain.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences from Singapore. I hope I could clarify and answer most of your quesitons. If there is anything you are still uncertain about or need further assistance, please contact jip@mgt.tum.de.

 

Cheers!

Jan