‘You’re not applying for a scholarship – you’re applying for a career,’ Terence Lee was told.
With those words in mind, I decided that I only wanted to spend the first six years of my working life in a company that would challenge me to grow, support me when I need it, and reward me when I succeed. As a second-year scholar with the GIC, I am confident that I have made the right choice.
All I knew of GIC initially was its brand name and public image: Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund in charge of over $100 billion in reserves and a major global investor. Later, I learnt that it is more than that. Unlike other agencies which manage a large number of scholars, GIC’s stringent selection criteria means that while much is expected of its scholars, much is also given to them without the bureaucratic run-around. GIC gives its scholars room to grow and to pursue their own interests. For instance, I will be spending 11 weeks in Barcelona, Spain, next year to improve my Spanish.
Studying Economics at the University of Chicago is indeed an experience. Initially, I chose to study Economics because it seemed like the route into finance or investment banking and other ‘hot’ careers. Now, on my second vacation training on attachment with GIC’s trading desk, I am able to apply I have learnt. I get to see how concepts that were previously abstract to me, like interest rates or productivity figures, affect the markets.
GIC is an organisation that prizes personal growth. My ‘A’ level results were merely satisfactory – no H3s, not even an H2 in Economics. However, I had a record of self-directed personal development. I pursued a number of varied interests, some of which I am stuck with, the other I have set aside. What I learnt from these pursuits are general skills like organisation, judgement, the ability to work under pressure and people skills. We are more than just grades on a transcript, or CCAs on a report card, and GIC recognises and values the person behind these metrics.
Teamwork is paramount in GIC. The majority of our first vacation training was focused on absorbing the ethos of the organisation: prudence, respect, integrity, merit and excellence. Of the five, the first four are team- and organisation-focused; a reminder that the nation, the corporation, and the team are larger entities than ourselves. This does not mean that GIC is a corporation of yes-men and doormats – good judgement and the ability to defend it are as important as good humour and the ability to give in graciously.
The GIC Global Scholarship is more than just a way of paying for a university education. It is more than just a first job. It is a doorway into an organisation that is challenging, supportive and rewarding. It is a place where everyone is valued, united in purpose and working for the same goal.
GIC Global Scholarship
Now: Studying Economics at University of Chicago
From: Raffles Junior College