On 25 September, all 230 of ISS current full-time postgraduate students became members of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) Student Chapter.
The students were automatically enrolled as student members of the SCS with the official launch of the new ISS-SCS Student Chapter that day.
The event was marked by a night of celebration at the ISS auditorium. The highlights of the evening included a pop IT quiz, which gripped the attention of the audience, and a panel discussion on the topic Kick-start Your IT Career In The Current Economic Climate. (see box story)
Still, there is no doubt as to the high point of the night. The students in the audience were buzzing with excitement over the many privileges they would enjoy as members of the ISS-SCS Student Chapter.
"Like me, a lot of my classmates didn't know about SCS before tonight," confessed Ramya Amarvath, a Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis student. "Now that we know about the organisation, we are very excited about being part of it."
The reason for their excitement? With their membership in Singapore's largest professional body for infocomm practitioners and users, ISS students will now get to enjoy unique benefits, including networking with some of most important IT figures in Singapore. SCS has a membership of more than 22,000, with membership spanning all facets of the local infocomm community.
For the students, it comes down to one thing: More opportunities to meet potential bosses and impress them.
Said Sriram Gopal, a Master of Technology student, "With membership, we will be given the privilege of being able to interact directly with potential bosses and that is priceless. In the normal run of things, you just can't go up and talk to a CEO that way."
President of ISS-SCS Student Chapter, Ashish Kulkarni with his other members.
Echoed Kulkarni Ashish, President of the ISS Student Committee, "I would be exposed to people whom I would like to meet and who could be key to my future. Nowhere else would students get the opportunity to meet people of such calibre as Mr Deep Singhania, the Head of Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific. We have the opportunity to share thoughts with people who know the industry inside out. Who knows, maybe a conversation one day would change our track in life."
Leonard Nee, ISS' Senior Programme Director for Graduate Studies, pointed out, "There is more to life as a student than just doing well in exams. Like they say, "It's not what you know, but who you know that counts." Another saying is "First impression counts". My sincere hope is that our students will learn that it pays to sell oneself and that the SCS Student Chapter is one of the best avenues to do so."
Another draw is SCS' numerous activities for its student members, including site visits to organisations such as Microsoft, Creative Technology, Dell, Fusionpolis and Inland Revenue Authority, infocomm-related competitions, selected free seminars and product offers.
Already Sun Yifan, a Master of Technology student, can't wait to participate in some of these competitions. "I would be very interested in competitions organised by SCS because I want to prove my skills to potential employers."
Membership also opens up industrial attachment opportunities for the students.
Explained Alphonsus Pang, the President of SCS, "Our aim is to provide a channel for students to network with IT professionals and help them relate theory to business practice in the transition from study to employment. This collaboration is also in line with SCS' commitment to working with students to help them achieve their goals."
Mr Alphonsus Pang, President of Singapore Computer Society exchanges plaque with Mr Lim Swee Cheang, Director/CEO of Institute of Systems Science, NUS.
Currently, all the polytechnics as well as the three local universities in Singapore have SCS student chapters.
In his welcome address at the launch, Lim Swee Cheang, CEO and Director of ISS, declared, "We stress the importance for students to be exposed to the activities and networking opportunities that SCS offers. They can learn from experienced IT practitioners and get firsthand insights into what to expect when they join the IT work community upon graduation."
Adding to the delight of the students is the fact that membership to the ISS-SCS Student Chapter is free to full-time students at ISS.
The panel shared their views on how to kick-start an IT career in the current economic climate, moderated by Leonard Nee (extreme right).
At the end of the evening, Mr Gopal summed up the sentiment of his schoolmates when he said, "I am really proud to be among the pioneer members of the ISS-SCS Student Chapter. My classmates and I feel really delighted to have this opportunity given to us. It is something my predecessors did not get to enjoy. We feel we are really lucky."
Tough Times? Infocomm Veterans Say It's The Time To Smarten Up Your Act
Guided by Leonard Nee, ISS' Senior Programme Director For Graduate Studies, four panelists engaged in an animated panel discussion on the topic, Kick-start Your IT Career In the Current Economic Climate.
The four come from different spheres of the infocomm industry. They were Young Fong, the director of business development at Cisco Systems' Enabling Platform Innovation Centre, Deep Singhania, the country manager and Head of Tata Consultancy Services
Asia Pacific, Adrian Chye, the general manager of Media Freaks, and Daniel Ray, a current ISS student.
Mr Fong had this counsel for retrenched infocomm professionals. "When the economy is bad, it also brings with it a very good opportunity, because when you lose a job, it's a great time to cross-train. This is a great time for you to find something that interests you."
As a hirer of IT talents, Mr Singhania also gave an insight into how employers like him evaluate resumes. "The first reject happens when a candidate puts too much into his resume. Be very focused in your resume. In fact, be as focused in this as you are in life. It is important to clearly define your specialties. You cannot adopt a cookie-cutter approach and send the same resume out to 100 companies. Please spend five minutes researching the organisation and whether you can play an important role in it. You can't just know the function you will play in the organisation; you must also know the business of the organisation. This is because IT today is more and more a complement-er and an enabler."
To this, Mr Young added one piece of advice: Do not mislead or oversell in your resume.
He warned, "We can pick it up. I've seen resumes from fresh graduates that run to five pages long. That's too much. That is more than my resume. Also, the first paragraph is very important. It has to be high in impact. The first paragraph should open my eyes as to your capability."
For ISS students who are not from an infocomm background, Mr Chye had some heartening words. He said, "When we start a project, we always look for production coordinators with good project management and communication skills. Whether they have digital skills is not important. In fact it is precisely because you have a non-IT background that your skills may turn out to be very valuable to us."