By Sim Yang Jun Bernard (ECONews reporter)
On 6 December 2013, the NUS Economics Department, together with the NUS Economics Alumni, organised the inaugural Economics Alumni Homecoming event at the Alumni House@Kent Ridge. The evening began with a sumptuous dinner which was the best way for our alumni to catch up with their friends, former classmates and Professors from the department over food.
In his opening address, Professor Julian Wright, Head of NUS Economics Department, announced that the department hopes to achieve two main objectives with this inaugural homecoming event. Firstly, the department wishes to know how our alumni are doing after graduation. Our graduates would be in a more informed position to share with our current undergraduates the skills valuable to today’s labour market. Earlier this year, the NUS Economics Society had organised a speed mentoring event and our undergraduates had benefitted from the alumni’s sharing. The department hopes more of such alumni-undergraduate interaction and sharing sessions will be organised. In fact, in the upcoming month of February 2014, the department will be inviting some of our alumni to be part of a panel to address undergraduate’s concerns about life after graduation. The second objective of this event is to attract our alumni members to be active. The Economics Alumni is a relatively young alumni set up in 2007 but it is already one of the most active alumni in NUS and the most active in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. However, there is a need to push for even more activities and the growth of the alumni. Professor Wright urged our alumni to be active members and come out with new initiatives of which the department will support them.
Following Professor Wright’s address, Mr Daniel Lo, Chairman of the NUS Economics Alumni, shared with the audience the activities that has been organised by the alumni and the activities lined up for the upcoming 2014. Mr Low remarked that we are a blessed lot being in Singapore. Unlike the rest of the world where there is massive unemployment, in Singapore jobs are chasing people. China alone churns out 7.7 million graduates each year but because of the tight labour market, these graduates are working in low-skilled jobs such as waiters. In Europe, youth unemployment is in excess of 25%. Therefore, given that we are blessed, we should give back more. The alumni has organised two Trishaw fund-raising event and has raised a total of $33,000 which will help reduce the financial burden of economics undergraduate students in the form of bursaries. The annual alumni dinner is organised to coincide with the commencement ceremony to reach out to graduating students. The alumni recognize that networking has an economic value that cannot be quantified. The alumni has thus also organised mentor-mentee events to help undergraduates make more informed decisions. In the past there is one mentor attached to one mentee, but due to a lack of mentors, the ‘clan’ concept is now adopted where two mentors are attached to three to five undergraduates. Going forward, the alumni would like to work more closely with the department. Next year, in 2014, the NUS Economics Department will be celebrating its 85th anniversary with a gala dinner and the alumni hopes to raise funds during the dinner for bursaries to help even more needy undergraduate students. In his concluding remarks, Mr Low describes the Alumni as an in-group and the more activities the members take part in, the more benefits they get out of the alumni and the more others will benefit from the members. The Alumni Homecoming Event concluded with a photo-taking session.
Comments by Our Alumnus about the Alumni Homecoming Event
“It was nice to see ex-classmates and professors who have made an impact on my life and more importantly, tell our professors how much we have grown.” – Arvin Tang, Graduating Class of 11/12
“It’s good to see familiar faces and catch-up with our professors and friends. – Shan, Graduating Class of 11/12
Advice by Alumni to Current Undergraduates
“Be open. Do not be afraid to ask even stupid questions.” – Ye Cheng Liang, Graduating Class of 12/13
“Challenge yourself, take challenging modules which interests you.” – Boon Heng , Graduating Class of 11/12
This article was first published in ECONews in December 2013