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The Truth about being a BIZCOM DDP student in NUS: Shi Hui’s perspective

Introducing Shi Hui, a year 4 IS-BIZ DDP student. She is only specialising in business analytics on the BIZ side. She expects to graduate in Dec 2022 (single honours) and intends to work in the healthtech industry.

For context, please read the prelude of series first.

Why did she choose to take BIZCOM DDP?

  • Initially, she was interested to learn how to code and only knew of the CS course in NUS. Luckily for her, when she went to the NUS Open House, she found out about IS and was intrigued by how the study of IS centers on the notion of using technology to solve business problems.
  • However, back then, she was still uncertain about what career path she wanted to take. She heard that a business degree is general enough to open up a wide variety of career possibilities and thus, she saw pursuing one as a safety net for her.
  • Furthermore, since she wasn’t sure of what career she was interested in, she wanted to make the most of her time in university by learning as much as she could. In that regard, DDP casted the widest net in terms of learning volume.
  • Also, she saw reports that DDP students would earn a higher starting salary and that was undeniably one attractive factor of BIZCOM DDP for her.

What expectations did she have of BIZCOM DDP initially?

  • Tough programme
  • One would have to overload every semester, so she would have a busier timetable than single degree students
  • Can be equipped with both technical knowhow and business knowledge, which would give her a competitive edge
  • Can meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends in university
  • Prestigious programme

How far has her actual journey in BIZCOM DDP aligned with her expectations?

  • While it was true that DDP students have to overload, she did not have to overload every semester. In fact, she could stop overloading from Year 3 Sem 2 onwards and graduate within the normal candidature time with a single honours.
  • Workload wise, she realised that how mentally demanding or tough a semester felt was less dependent on the quantity of modules, but rather the mixture of modules taken simultaneously. Semesters with more modules that involved regular programming or continuous commitment to project work were indeed more challenging for her because of the rigour and time required. For those modules, a lot of time was spent on development, debugging and project meetings.
  • Learning outcomes wise, she was indeed able to hone her technical skills under the IS curriculum and broaden her business domain knowledge from the BIZ curriculum.
  • By the sheer nature of having to attend more classes, DDP students do get to meet more people from all walks of life and interact with more classmates. However, it was not easy for her to make true friends as people would come and go every semester.

What does she think are some benefits or enjoyable aspects of BIZCOM DDP?

  • First of all, you learn more. Being equipped with more knowledge can never be a loss or disadvantage.
  • More specifically, alongside learning how to develop software, you also learn about the other elements involved in running a business, other than the software product sold or utilised. (p.s. You can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, then the product is useless.)
  • Besides that, you can hone different skills in different areas. Needless to say, most CS and IS modules would train your problem solving and development skills. Most BIZ modules, on the other hand, would let you practise public speaking, presentation and report writing skills.
  • To her, all those skills are equally important. Even for software developers, you can write the best code but if you can’t convey your thinking process clearly to your fellow colleagues or managers, then there may be misunderstandings or your work may not be fully appreciated / recognised. Especially for those who aim to be an analyst, translating between business requirements from clients to technical tasks for the development team would require decent mastery of both skill sets. Communication skills are not to be underestimated.
  • Through the program’s rigour, you expand your capability and will find that your potential to do more things would increase over time.
  • As BIZCOM DDP is more demanding in terms of workload, you learn how to manage your time and commitments better, which is an extremely important skill to have in life.
  • Another benefit is that you actually understand how the student profiles are really like in the respective schools because you immerse yourself in those environments. You can base your understanding more on personal experiences and less on stereotypes, assumptions and hearsays. After all, traits, strengths and weaknesses are based on individuals themselves, not the faculty they are in.

What struggles did she face throughout her academic journey and how did she overcome them?

Struggle 1: Self doubt on whether she was suited for computing

  • In her junior years, she scored average for her core computing modules. The technical rigour felt overwhelming for her. She recalls being stressed over completing weekly lab assignments (cue memory of having to pass all test cases with no hint of why you failed some) and fumbling over the advanced concepts during the finals period for CS2030 and CS2040. The bell curve was really harsh too.
  • On the bright side, when she eventually took IS core modules, things got better because she enjoyed application development more than computer science. Furthermore, when it came to taking elective modules, she chose modules that she was interested in. Having a keen interest in what you learn is crucial to how much knowledge you are able and willing to absorb and how much you can enjoy the learning process. Mindset matters.
  • Having gone through more programming practice as the semesters passed, she was also more confident in her technical ability and problem solving skills. She became less frightened when she encountered errors. Now, she can face technical errors with a calmer mind and resolve them on her own.

Struggle 2: Making friends and maintaining friendships

  • With a busier timetable, she would often have to rush from one faculty to another after class ended. As a result, it was harder to join post-class casual conversations with classmates for most of her first year. This made it more difficult to bond properly with peers and foster friendships.
  • For business students, and BIZCOM DDP students whose home faculty is Business school, they would be pre-allocated modules in their first one to two years (so called “baskets”). As such, they would keep meeting the same people in their business classes during the semester, which sets the context right for them to bond over the span of the semester. As a BIZCOM DDP student whose home faculty is computing, she would be taking one module from one basket, then another from another basket, so she didn’t have the “luxury” of prolonged contact with the same group of students. This was arguably a hurdle for her to make friends.
  • She overcame this challenge by forging friendships with her fellow BIZCOM DDP friends. It was easier to bond with them because they related better to one another’s experiences.
  • She also came to learn that one does not need much more than a close group of friends who support you. Treasure your inner social circle and focus your time and energy on maintaining those friendships instead of constantly seeking new ones.

Struggle 3: ModReg

  • Despite being a DDP student, the school’s ModReg system does not allow her to overload from the 1st round. Instead, she would have to wait till round 3 before she can bid for her 6th module.
  • This was very stress-inducing because one cannot be certain if there were any vacancies left by then. Oftentimes, she had to write in to appeal for modules. It was an unpleasant experience because one would worry that not being able to take a module during a particular semester could end up affecting future module planning or worse, delay graduation.

As of now, why does she still continue to pursue the DDP route?

  • She still enjoys the journey of learning as much as she can.
  • Education is a privilege. Since she was given the opportunity to pursue this DDP, she wants to treasure it and finish the program. It would be a great accomplishment for her as well.
  • Besides that, she think her IS elective modules and BIZ business analytics specialisation modules would equip her with valuable, employable skills and that motivates her to complete both degrees as well.

If she were to rewind time, would she have applied for BIZCOM DDP?

  • Yes, because she still enjoys learning what she has learnt so far and she appreciates the opportunity to hone her technical, presentation and communication skills. She believes that because of BIZCOM DDP, she has grown to be a more well-rounded person and can see the world in a more multifaceted manner.
  • Not forgetting that thanks to BIZCOM DDP, she could interact with more people and learn how to connect to different people and open her mind up to more perspectives.

Her tips for students who are in their first or second year of DDP, or deciding whether to take up BIZCOM DDP:

  • Plan ahead for your semesters. Pay attention to prerequisite chains and find out in which semesters are higher level modules offered every academic year. But, when the semester starts, focus on that semester instead of worrying about future semesters.
  • It’s okay to not know what career path you want to embark on at the start. Explore around and hopefully you can find something that suits you in your senior years, when it’s time to take your elective or specialisation modules.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help, be it from your peers, seniors or professors. If it’s fear of embarrassment that’s holding you back, just know that asking questions reflects a positive and proactive learning attitude!
  • Take ownership of your own academics and work hard.
  • You can do it! It will get better.

You can connect with Shi Hui via LinkedIn :D

Read the next article: Zhong Jun’s perspective

This article is part of the series: “The Truth about being a BIZCOM DDP student in NUS”. Through this series, we explore the academic journeys of five students who are or were enrolled in BIZCOM DDP. We hope that this series would benefit BIZCOM DDP students in their junior years and prospective university students.

Want to read another article in this series? Visit the full list here.

Note: The articles in this series are not commissioned by NUS in any way. The interviewees were given the freedom to express themselves to their own comfortable extent, and I seek that the audience respect everyone’s point of view. Feel free to give the articles a “clap” and share them if you found them useful. Thank you very much.



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