Biotechnology student Ng Kay Choon was apprehensive initially when he started his internship at Wilmar International in Shanghai, China.
“Initially I went with the stereotypical Singaporean mindset that all mainland Chinese are uncivilised and rude,” said the 21-year-old. “But my opinion of the mainland Chinese changed once I started working and living there. They are actually very friendly and civil people.”
In a land of unfamiliar faces, Kay Choon was glad he met Sims, a student from Malaysia who was doing her PhD at the company. She showed him and his friends the ropes around China during the first few weeks of settling in.
She also took them to Hangzhou to explore. Kay Choon remembered the experience fondly as they ate a variety of good food and explored China’s rich history.
Beyond the cultural immersion, Kay Choon had serious work to do at Wilmar. He had interned at one of the company’s research and development branches which focuses on using edible palm oil to develop food products.
Kay Choon said: “Working there allowed me to compare the working environment and the lifestyle of Singapore and other countries and see which one caters to me more. They say the grass is always greener at the other side so it is always better to explore and experience.”
However, there was one incident when Kay Choon felt like giving up. When he was helping a colleague to boil his chemicals, Kay Choon forgot to turn it off in time and it caused an alarm.
He got reprimanded by the company’s superiors due to his carelessness. “I did feel guilty and remorseful for a short period but I told myself to move on as I am not perfect and people do make mistakes,” said Kay Choon.
Kay Choon said he learnt a lot through the internship, not only as a researcher at Wilmar International but also about himself. He learnt how to communicate better as the overseas internship experience forced him out of his comfort zone and socialise with others.
“After living there for 20 weeks, I began to appreciate the little things we have in Singapore as what we have is a privilege other countries don’t,” said Kay Choon. “This internship provided to me had been a blast and I wouldn’t say otherwise.”