Learning Together, Excelling Together

Last year, sisters, Phoebe Xie and Esther Xie, joined the NUS-ISS Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis to embark on a 13-month long journey towards a new IT career. This year, they are graduating together as the top students of the cohort. INNOVATE@ISS speaks to them about the IT journey which they have taken on together. 

Sisters, Phoebe Xie and Esther Xie, have such a close relationship that they entered the real estate industry together in 2014 before taking up the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS) Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis (GDipSA) programme together, and now, they are crafting an IT career together.

Esther Xie (most right) and Phoebe Xie (second from right), with their lecturer, Chia Yuen Kwan, and coursemate, Yao Weijie.

This turned out well for them as they emerged as the top students of their cohort in the GDipSA programme.

Phoebe, who is the top student, and winner of the IBM Gold Medal and Book Prize, enjoyed creating value out of nothing since she was young and entering the IT industry was an extension of that, “I was especially fascinated about data analytics and I had a passion for both real estate and IT as both have the potential to greatly impact lives.”

For Esther, who was second in place and graduated with the ISS Book Prize, it was the technology gap in her previous role as a property valuer that piqued her interest in IT. “Then, I realised that a lot of the work that I was doing could be expedited with technology. I started daydreaming about how good it would be if there is an application that can allow real-time input of property evaluation and automatic generation of reports,” said Esther, “That’s when I thought to myself, why not pursue an IT career where I can realise my ideas?”

When the sisters decided to pursue IT education as a springboard to an IT career, the NUS-ISS GDipSA programme was a clear choice.

“The GDipSA programme was suited to my need to learn IT from the basics all the way to advanced. It is very detailed and covered a wide range of programming languages and skills to help me get into the IT industry quickly and to equip me with the skills and knowledge to develop my own mobile and web applications and systems,” said Phoebe.

Esther added, “I liked that the programme is very-well structured, and what sealed the deal for me was that the duration of the programme was 13 months – not too long and not too short!”

Having gone through the programme together, Phoebe and Esther found that there were more advantages going through it together than not. “As sisters, we could work on our project and spar ideas together 24/7, as well as help each other to debug codes,” Phoebe said with a laugh.

Esther rebuffed any suggestion of friendly competition between them, “one plus one is not two, but more than two instead because we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and together, we make a strong force.

The NUS-ISS GDipSA programme is designed for graduates who recognise the need to equip themselves with the latest IT knowledge and skills, and wish to advance their careers in their current field. It also provides an opportunity for non-IT graduates in crafting a new career path in the IT industry. The 13-month programme teaches students how to build IT solutions through lectures, workshops, laboratory sessions, projects and internships with IT organisations.

For the sisters, the internship which they did together at iAPPS Pte Ltd was invaluable in giving them a taste of the real IT industry, and a job, after their graduation.

“We were working on developing a remittance application, and I was in charge of business requirements gathering, writing up functional specifications and back-end programming,” shared Esther, “I learnt a lot in the internship; When I was doing programming, I found myself jumping straight to coding. It was my supervisor who taught me that even in coding, if I fail to plan, I plan to fail. Now, I take time to think through the logic before I start to programme.”

Phoebe, on the other hand, learnt to adapt to the quick-changing industry. “The rapid changes of the industry presented both challenges and opportunities, and the internship taught me that change is not necessarily a bad thing. If I am able to accept the changes and develop solutions for these changes quickly, it can become an advantage to me,” she said.

Since Phoebe and Esther joined the organisation, both as Systems Analysts, in March this year, they have found that what they have learnt in the programme have come in useful.

“The GDipSA programme has equipped and prepared me for the IT industry where technical abilities and knowledge are key. The multiple languages and system models which I’ve learnt have cultivated an IT mindset and thinking pattern which helps me in implementing IT solutions daily,” shared Phoebe.

Esther agreed, “I’ve gained a fresh perspective after going through the programme. Beyond just gathering and conveying requirements, I find myself able to understand issues highlighted by the developers and to propose alternatives to go around the problem.”

Now, Phoebe and Esther are enjoying their dream jobs. “I enjoy how the different challenges I face each day presents new opportunities to grow and improve – to continue creating value out of nothing,” said Phoebe.

“I used to daydream about using technology to improve my work. Now I can realise my dreams with technology and to use it to improve others’ work and life,” said Esther.

The Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis programme has two intakes a year. Application for the February 2017 intake will be open on 1 July. For more information, click here