Zheng Hao, a current Mechanical Engineering student with a second major in Design and Innovation at the National University of Singapore (NUS), shares reflections on his experience as a Management Associate at ExpertConnect Asia and his advice for future interns.

What were some opportunities that you were able to take part in at our Associate Programme at ExpertConnect Asia?

My first task was to plan and carry out an ideathon for Hitachi. Subsequently, I was involved in organizing and executing another larger-scale ideathon for NEC, as well as NEC’s first corporate accelerator program.

This was my first experience in the innovation and start-up scene that exposed me to the dynamics of it. I was given the opportunity to observe both MNCs and budding start-ups and got to see how the start-up scene fits into the larger picture. Witnessing many of the pitfalls and challenges faced by people who venture into that space got me reconsidering the preconceived notions I had about entrepreneurship.

I met many talented mentors along the way who taught me so much about the innovation scene in Singapore and entrepreneurship in general. On top of that, working in a start-up allowed me to take up important and impactful roles where I could put what I learnt into practice.

What was your favourite memory from your experience?

Travelling to Japan with Aki for a business trip was an unforgettable experience. It was eye-opening to experience a different business environment and culture. During my time there, I pitched our services to clients and was able to see and understand how business deals were struck as well as how our company’s value proposition was sold.

Moreover, given that I was studying Japanese at that time, getting to put my language skills to practice was a cherished opportunity.

How has interning with ExpertConnect Asia changed your idea of working life?

It gave me an insight into start-ups, and cut through the buzzwords surrounding entrepreneurship. My experience made be better understand what I enjoyed and did not enjoy so much in my work, and has exposed me to the workings of both the corporate and start-up ecosystems.

What are you doing in university now? Has your time with ExpertConnect Asia changed the opportunities that you pursue?

I am currently doing Mechanical Engineering with a second major in Design and Innovation and am mainly pursuing engineering projects. My time in ExpertConnect Asia has reaffirmed my interest in product development and innovation, and led me to conclude that perhaps being a start-up founder isn’t for me. This knowledge has aided in my choice of projects and pursuits in University.

How has your experience benefitted your current work?

The main lesson I still carry with me is the importance of having a solid business proposition and thinking from the customer’s perspective instead of solely following your wants blindly and end up with a start-up that fails to make business sense.

Do you have any advice for future interns joining our Associate Programme?

As a start-up, ExpertConnect Asia is really flexible in allowing you to explore different areas. Hence, I would highly encourage you to incorporate your interests into the work you take initiative to do, so as to get a fulfilling experience.