Taking flight with Smart Nation Scholarship
As GovTech delivers our mission of ‘Engineering Digital Government, Making Lives Better’, we firmly believe in the importance of having representation of our population in our workforce, in order to be able to design products and services that adequately serve our people.
In line with GovTech’s participation in the Singapore Women in Tech Corporate Pledge in March 2021 to create a conducive environment with support system to attract, retain and develop more women in tech, we are pleased to award three young female talent for Smart Nation Scholarship (SNS) 2021! We caught up with the three undergraduates to learn more about their passion in technology, what attracted them to apply for the scholarship, and how they hope to contribute to #TechforPublicGood.
Recipients of GovTech-Smart Nation Scholarship (SNS) 2021
Tell us a bit more about you! Where are you studying right now and what sparked you to take up your course of study?
Jiacheng: I am currently studying Computer Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Studying Computer Science has always been at the back of my mind, having thoroughly enjoyed my time in Robotics during secondary school!
Anna: I am also at NUS, pursuing a Double Degree Programme in Industrial & Systems Engineering and Economics, which would provide me with a joint education in the engineering design process and economic theoretical frameworks, allowing me to progress to a Full-Stack Data Engineer.
Xinyi: As for me, I am studying Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. I believe that mathematical thinking gives me a sturdy foundation for programming and allows me to hone critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities, which are important attributes in the ever-changing technological landscape.
What drew you to the tech industry?
Jiacheng: I had a fun time at the Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSIx) camp, where I got to create and set up a website with my teammates. The process of building a website was an empowering experience as I realised that I could do more to serve purpose and meaning for the public.
Anna: That’s interesting, Jia Cheng. For me, it was during one of my first-year modules where I was exposed to computer science and its relation to my passion for puzzle solving. They gave us a problem; we wrote the code that made sense to us to solve it. Later, I took an internship and even signed up for an external course on data analytics, which crystallised my decision to pursue data analytics as a career.
Xinyi: I’ve always held on to the belief that technology is the catalyst for progress and will continue to be in the future as well. The presence of the unknown, unsolved, unexplored… are the reasons I want to work in technology. Making use of modern technology creatively so that it moves beyond academic consideration and into real world applications and benefits is something I believe is meaningful.
Why did you choose to apply for SNS and was choosing GovTech an obvious choice?
Jiacheng: I always knew I wanted to apply for a scholarship as it would give great exposure, and the Smart Nation Scholarship was especially appealing to me. GovTech is the clear choice for me given my area of study, and I was also drawn to GovTech’s open work culture and the sense of purpose in developing tech products to help improve people’s day-to-day lives.
I also liked the fact that GovTech is designing intuitive and easy-to-use tech. The changes in some government apps which I have used for some time had me thinking “Wow, it’s so much easier and more enjoyable to use now” and, very naturally, the next thought I had was “I want to be a part of making that change happening too”. Additionally, the variety of projects at GovTech is very appealing to me as I like change and thrive in a dynamic environment.
Anna: GovTech is the perfect fit for me as my dream job is an intersection of infocomm technologies and creating social impact. I envision a more digitally connected world, which is in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation plans. Together with my interest in Data Analytics, it led me to explore the Smart Nation Scholarship through which I can combine my interest to use tech to create sustainable solution to social issues.
Xinyi: The first time I heard of GovTech was whilst reading a blogpost detailing how their data scientists found the Circle Line rogue train. The step-by-step unravelling of the whodunit had me hooked. Finding the answer with data, purging the plague upon so many Singaporean commuters, was a fitting example of technology in public service.
Meaning is important in a career, and GovTech would allow me to employ technology to solve problems or make lives easier for more people. The agile way in which GovTech responded to the pandemic also showed its importance as an impactful, innovative agency.
How was your interview experience at GovTech like?
Jiacheng: I found the interview interesting and insightful because as I learnt more about GovTech and myself, through the various interview questions.
Also, the GeekInsider assessment event was exciting and fun because I really liked the discussion-based activity where I had the opportunity to learn different technology applications from my fellow interviewees. I had also enjoyed the coding challenge (although I was not able to pass several of the test cases) because it really challenged me to think about creative ways to come up with a solution to the problem statement.
Anna: Though it was nerve-wrecking at the final stage of the interview, I would say that the interview experience with GovTech was highly enriching and a fulfilling process.
I still vividly recalled entering the Zoom link and being pleasantly surprised by the diversity in backgrounds of my teammates – I was not the only girl present!
The activities were exciting and stimulating. For instance, the virtual escape room with my teammates, where we were able to work together to solve the puzzles without breaking much of a sweat. When we emerged first place, it felt like an affirmation of our efforts, and this was the most memorable part of my interview journey.
I would also like to take this chance to thank Perrin and Cherine from GovTech for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help me prepare for the Talent Leadership Assessment Board interview.
Xinyi: I would say that the interview experience was positive, as my interviewers were friendly, and their sharing felt tangible and authentic.
Like Jia Cheng, the GeekInsider event was the highlight for me as well, as I had the opportunity to work with others on solving puzzles! The GovTechies were also supportive throughout the interview process, giving us honest feedback for our personal development and I really liked that we were provided with the entire schedule ahead of time to know what to expect. Overall, it felt like a learning process for me instead of a daunting interview process.
What do you hope to achieve in Smart Nation Scholarship?
Jiacheng: I hope that through the scholarship programme, I can contribute back to Singapore by developing people-centric tech products and be part of the ones driving change.
Anna: Similar to Jiacheng, I hope to build a career in using data to drive transformational change in the everyday lives of people in Singapore. I am also looking forward to the networking and mentorship opportunities, and my work at GovTech upon graduation.
Xinyi: As for me I am excited to step into a novel, fast-developing field, where my creations could be put to the test to solve problems that Singapore faces, helping to keep Singapore’s competitive edge amid constantly evolving technologies.
Ultimately, I hope to improve Singaporeans’ lives, to equip us with more advanced and secure digital technologies and keep the public sector safe and efficient.
Smart Nation Scholarship was jointly launched in 2018 by the Cyber Security Agency, Infocomm Media Development Authority and GovTech.
The application period for this year’s Smart Nation Scholarship is open until 30 April 2022. We welcome applications from pre-tertiary students, as well as undergraduates who have completed at least one semester in university but have yet to start their final year of study.
Find out more about Smart Nation Scholarship at: https://www.go.gov.sg/smartnationscholarhttps://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/taking-flight-with-smart-nation-scholarship