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On Top Of The World After Manchester

Graduating after 2 years of concentrated study, Zelia (fourth from left) and her classmates at the SIM-University of Manchester’s convocation on May 14, 2015
Graduating after 2 years of concentrated study, Zelia (fourth from left) and her classmates at the SIM-University of Manchester’s convocation on May 14, 2015

AFTER obtaining her First Class Honours degree in Management, as well as a Programme Prize for achieving top marks in her cohort, she made the decision to further her studies and left her job as a Personnel Officer in a five-star hotel.

While waiting for the school term to commence, she flew out of Singapore to travel as far as the Arctic Circle, on a one-way ticket.

Zelia Leong, 24, works hard, studies hard, and wanders far to see and understand the world.

She completed a Diploma in Human Resources with Psychology programme at Singapore Polytechnic in 2011, and a two-year BSc (Hons) in Management programme from SIM-University of Manchester in 2014.

The Manchester part-time course suited her because it enabled her to hold down a full-time job in Human Resources at Grand Hyatt Singapore, she says. This arrangement meant that she gained practical working knowledge in the day, and academic knowledge in her night classes at the SIM campus.

Manchester is one of the top universities in the UK, and has maintained a good reputation as a leading business school. I was recommended this course by my seniors at work who have graduated from it.”

Lifelong Assets

Her studies taught her analytical and research skills, she says. “Such skills are lifelong assets that I can apply both in and out of work.”

Her lecturers were helpful, and the other students in her class were “selfless and always willing to guide me in school work and also remind me of upcoming submissions. Even small actions like helping one another pack dinner for late-night classes certainly made the cold nights in the classrooms a little warmer!”

Zelia describes the teaching style at Manchester as extremely focused. The students were taught only one module at a time, over a three-month stretch. So, when they were studying Marketing, they concentrated on Marketing during that entire period, unlike conventional full-time programmes where students juggle with several different modules weekly or daily.

Here’s a typical study schedule for each module:

Week 1: Intensive lectures by lecturers from Manchester (week nights and weekend)
Week 2-5: Tutorials by seminar leader
Week 6: Revision and exam on Saturday
Week 7: Break and start of new module

The modules included subjects in Marketing, International Business, Finance & Investment, and Economics.

Supportive Learning Environment

As for her own Human Resource job, she says it has been fulfilling. “My supervisors and colleagues were supportive in terms of my studies, and even allowed me to work flexible hours in order to accommodate my academic schedule. They were encouraging and showed care and concern towards me, such as asking how my exams went.

“I believe that also contributed to my academic success,” she adds.

Zelia’s aspiration is to obtain a PhD in Organisational Behaviour. She wants to equip herself with the necessary skills in the research and academic fields.
 
Zelia worked as Personnel Officer at the Grand Hyatt while pursuing her Bachelor studies
Zelia worked as Personnel Officer at the Grand Hyatt while pursuing her Bachelor studies

Pay Attention To Details

The devil lies in the details, Zelia says, in her advice to students to do well. Pay attention to details in terms of what is being communicated during lectures. Details make all the difference between performance that is merely good, and performance that is Great.

Paying attention to details also includes the extra care in typing and formatting your assignments and reports so that there is even spacing, correct margins and even correct spelling, she advises.

Another tip is not to leave immediately after a lecture or tutorial, but to stay back to talk to the lecturer or tutor, and to help in organising assignments and reports.

And when studying for exam, Zelia has an unusual advice: listen to music because it pushes out distraction from the surroundings so she could concentrate better. Listening to music also helps her relax.

Besides lesson notes and textbooks, Zelia also reads works by authors such as Haruki Murakami and Chuck Palahniuk. “They inspire me because of their compelling way of writing as well as Murakami’s beautiful literature.”

Outside of class and the workplace, Zelia enjoys inline skating at the East Coast Park, or dining out with friends and family to catch up on one another’s life.

“I’m also a member of SG Cares, a Web site that brings volunteers together to help at homes for old folks, and at vocational schools. My friends and I picked up sign language in order to be more effective in communicating with hearing-impaired children when we were helping them. However, I’m still weak in using sign language!”

Unconventional Travel

Zelia is also unconventional in her travel. On her journey, she “couch-surfs”. In this practice, travellers move to someone’s home and sleep in whatever space is available. According to the CouchSurfing Web site, it has a global community of 10 million people in 200,000 locations.

Zelia’s other adventure trips included climbing up the summit of Mount Fuji and backpacking in the Scandinavia countries, Holland and some other parts of Europe
Zelia’s other adventure trips included climbing up the summit of Mount Fuji and backpacking in the Scandinavia countries, Holland and some other parts of Europe

Where’s Zelia? Last spotted in Flåm, a scenic spot in Norway.
Where’s Zelia? Last spotted in Flåm, a scenic spot in Norway. To get there, take the pretty Flamsbana train. “I’m in the Arctic Circle now; it's pretty warm, mosquitoes aplenty! Can get up to 20 degrees during the day,” she says in an e-mail on June 26, 2015

— Posted online, 3 August 2015