The last three years of university have been some of the most rewarding years of my life, great memories were made, windows of opportunities opened and most importantly, I got to meet some awesome people that I can call friends for life.
Last year, I was an exchange student at the University of Mannheim in Germany. It was the first time I ever got to travel out of Asia, let alone live in a foreign country on my own, so it was pretty intimidating at first. I spent 6 months in Germany and I decided it was a good time to pick up a new language. Unlike Hong Kong, Germany is not a bilingual country and you rarely see English translations on signs, so I signed up for a beginner’s German class.
The learning culture in Germany was quite different from I'm used to in Hong Kong. It emphasises self-learning and curiosity. During lectures, students were eager to raise questions.
Still, I made some very good friends from different parts of the world, with whom I still keep in touch with today. Together we travelled to many neighbouring countries, including Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark. As an avid photographer I took the chance to explore the many beautiful landscapes these countries have to offer. The cultural differences within members in our travel group did not stop us from understanding each other. Instead, we became closer through getting to know each other through our travels and ruling out misconceptions we held previously.
My internship experience at Siemens also deserves a mention. The 3-month internship provided a solid foundation to build my career in the logistics industry. Unlike conventional big companies, the laid-back working environment meant I was rarely given strict procedures to follow and was encouraged to raise questions.
There was an incident during my internship where a shipping schedule was disrupted by a typhoon. The shipment was unable to arrive on time. I assisted my supervisor in rearranging the shipment and liaised freight details with forwarders. That was an exhausting day but it was a worthwhile experience that really sharpened my ability to improvise.
During my years as a Global Supply Chain Management major, I took an extensive range of courses related to supply chain management. Most of the courses were taught by industry veterans with solid connections and experience. As such, we were able to make frequent visits to industry companies and interesting places such as shipping dockyards to engage with professionals.
In one of the courses I took, the lecturer who was a maritime logistics and operations expert, took us to a marine service provider. The company provided ship repair, harbour towage and shipping related engineering service. I got to see an actual tugboat and the equipment introduced in our lectures. We also visited the operation room and learned about the different processes of dockyard operations and the information system.
Apart from a well-rounded academic experience, my time at PolyU was made remarkable because of the people I met. I was chosen as a mentor in the Department’s “mentorship programme”, a programme that connects freshmen with senior students to provide support and guidance as they transition from secondary school to university through various activities. The department arranged outings to Disneyland and the Ocean Park, for example, for mentors and mentees to get to know each other better and form a bond in a relaxing environment. We had so much fun and made precious memories, and eventually become good friends.
I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to attend insightful and practical courses and made some lifelong friends.
The chance to connect with different companies helped build my professional network and learn from hands-on experiences. Internship programmes are available to students throughout our undergraduate studies. These university-sourced internship programmes are well-structured and are highly international, with companies that span from mainland China to the Britain.
During the summer break of my sophomore year, I joined the Shanghai WIE (work-integrated education) programme where I did an internship with the industry-leading international logistics company, Kuehne + Nagel. The experience not only gave me the chance to put the logistics knowledge acquired from classes in a real-life work setting, but also insights into actual business operations in freight forwarding. I also consider this internship experience as a good chance for self-evaluation. Through daily work and communication with colleges, I understood myself better - my abilities, career interests, and areas in need of improvement.
As my university life comes to an end, I have come to realise that what I gained here at PolyU is much more than just a degree - it's also about having the ability to be a fast learner with solid work experience, because ultimately, these are the values that will take me into the ever-changing world when I graduate.
Learn more about the programmes on offer at www.polyu.edu.hk/lms