From English teacher to IT consultant

Source: The Sunday Times | By: Joshua Wong

The NUS-ISS GDipSA programme equips those with no background in information technology for a career in the digital world.

SuT_7 Jan 2018_GDipSA_Mark Wee

For former English teacher Mark Wee, 27, getting a good grasp of technology was the next big step in his career.

After graduating from The State University of New York at Buffalo in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, he taught business English and communication skills to working adults at local language school English Express.

Craving something more challenging after six months of teaching, he decided to expand his horizons into the tech world.

His interest in technology was first sparked by a module he took - Introduction to Management Systems - when he was an undergraduate.

He says: "I know technology eliminates tedious and error-prone paper-based manual processes, but I was still amazed at how big an impact it can have on improving people's lives.

"While being able to read and write constitutes literacy today, coding and problem-solving will be the literacy standards of tomorrow."

Taking the plunge
While Mr Wee initially tried to pick up programming on his own, he found online tutorials too difficult to follow, describing them as "incomprehensible jargon".

Consequently, he enrolled in the one-year Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis (GDipSA) programme, run by the Institute of Systems Science at National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS), in August 2016.

The GDipSA is a hands-on programme that aims to transform someone with no information technology (IT) knowledge into an IT professional in a short amount of time, explains Dr Esther Tan, chief of the GDipSA programme.

Seven months of the programme are spent in intensive training, lectures, workshops and projects, while five months are dedicated to an industrial attachment.

Hands-on approach
Mr Wee was attracted by the course's comprehensive curriculum and extensive industrial attachment programme, which allowed him to gain hands-on experience working with top companies in the industry.

He spent his five-month internship working with Accenture, where he built a project connecting sensors to light bulbs on the Internet of Things.

The GDipSA is an intense and challenging programme and Mr Wee spent most of his time outside the classroom studying, writing and testing computer code.

"My teammates became my new family. The GDipSA's intensive bootcamp style really immerses you into the world of coding, which provides accelerated learning," he says.

Mr Wee's hard work paid off. Two months before graduating last November, he received a job offer from NCS, a home-grown IT consulting firm that is part of the Singtel Group. He now works as a consultant at the company.

"The GDipSA has truly transformed me from a person who knew nothing about technology to someone who does. I have never experienced so much personal growth in such a short period of time.

"Enrolling in the programme is one of the best decisions I have made in my life," he says.