Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It’s amazing how time flies and this shall be the last official post for this enriching, eye-opening and definitely useful module. I did not know what to expect when I chose to read this module, but I was pleasantly surprised at the highly interactive and commutative nature of this class. Coupled by equally enthusiastic classmate and tutor, I found myself enjoying this class each day. ES2007S is definitely one of the most useful modules I’ve taken throughout my university life.

One aspect and lesson learnt that I will definitely take home is the written part- resume, application and cover letters. As they say, first impression counts. I think most of us have a very rough idea of how to write these letters, but not exactly sure what the accepted and correct format was. This module has given me more confidence and know-how when writing these letters. It is especially useful to me when we start applying for jobs in the near future.

Secondly of course, is the mock interview conducted in class. I was given feedback that at times I do tend to seem a little arrogant, but at the same time, confident. I guess there is a fine line between these two attributes, and I must do well to thread it carefully during an actual job interview. However, I’ve also learnt it is also important to keep true and professional to your real character and attributes during an interview, because ultimately, you do not want to be in a job that is not suited for you. Again, this module has provided me with realistic scenarios that will prepare me for real world interviews.

It has been awhile since I interacted so much with each and every classmate in a class. And the pair and team projects, as well as the constant class activities, made me for comfortable working with people. I recall when I had to work with Png Ning during the first few weeks of class. We hardly knew each other at that time, but I felt we both communicated effectively and worked well together towards a common goal, which made the project task much easier and fun to do.

All in all, this module has been very enjoyable and most importantly, very useful for my future endeavours. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

reflection on oral presentation

It is safe to say that all of us have done at least one school/class oral presentation in our lifetime. I knew I was a relatively good oral presenter- if I prepared for it. I think I have a confident and loud voice, putting my points across and making my presence felt.

Upon a scale of ten, I would rate my preparations for this oral presentation an eight. A good oral presentation starts with preparation of the visual aid/ power point slides. For a start, I wrote out a presentation speech/ script and proofread it to evaluate if the order of my presentation flowed in the correct direction. I adjusted my power point slide points accordingly after finalizing the order of points to present. Hence if I were to forget what to say next, the points will ensure I present in the correct order. I practiced my part about 5 times before the actual presentation,each time refining my speech here and there.

On the actual day, I felt prepared. As with all formal presentation, leather shoes, formal pants and a long sleeve shirt is a must- gets you in the mood too.

Strengths of presentation:

1) Tone and volume of voice was appropriate
2) I explained most of the points clearly and effectively as planned
3) I did not think I stumbled on my words while presenting
4) My hand gestures were minimal, only using them to point out pictures or to illustrate a point
5) I kept to my planned script as prepared.

Weaknesses of presentation:
1) Probably alittle stiff with my upper body
2) Not good eye contact
3) Words may not be very clear
4) I felt that I took too long to explain each point I had to make, thus allowing the audience to lose focus
5) I think I did not smile enough, but then again, it was a serious presentation (NUS campus safety involved)


Immediately after the presentation, I felt I did okay. Not fantastic, but probably what I expected of myself. All in all, I felt I had a decent presentation, as I managed to convey my points across efficiently and effectively.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2 cents worth

I would like to share my experience during the interview with 3 offices of NUS comprising of Capmus Security, Office of Estate and Development and Office of health and safety. These three departments have collaborated with each other to form the NUS Trheaffic Safety Task Force (TSTF).

Going into this interview, my team and I did not know what to expect- we did not know who would be present, or how formal this meeting was suppose to be. I can say I was both alittle shocked yet pleasantly surprised when we entered the meeting room. There were 8 senior officials present. Yes, eight. Most, if not all of the staffs present were either the head of their department or head of a project. The atmosphere was somewhat somber and you had the feeling they wanted to get things over and done with quickly- after all, we were just students.

Intimidating? No. I did not feel intimidated by them, nor should anyone be. But I knew that I should at least justify their time for coming down.

Silence was broken when we were asked to introduce ourselves and our agenda for this meeting. Confidently, I spoke up in a clear and concise manner, acknowledging my teammates and getting straight to the point.  It is crucial that you make the first impression count. Speak up, clearly.

They decided to give us a mini presentation of their plans and proposals. While it is important to nod your head occasionally, it is even more important that you do not just accept everything they are saying is true. Stop to question their plans, if possible, at appropriate timings- do not cut into their presentation halfway.

The interview lasted for about an hour- longer than a lot of us expected. But I felt we had an engaging and though provoking ideas and questions- for both sides. At times, I felt our questions caught them off guard, and they would simply repeat some points in their decision. However, if they do not answer your question, do not be afraid to ask them, or pinpoint someone of interest, and ask the question directly.

I would also like to stress that it is essential for you to have done your research and preparation before hand. I am sure people are able to sniff out whether you do know anything of the project or not. This research extends not only to the context of what you're interested in, but a wider persepective, in this case, road traffic rules in details. 

So take home point is to be confident and respectful to them, but not feel intimidated by their ranks or seniority. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cultural Thoughts

A few cultural topics came into my mind today while travelling on the bus.

First of which is the pace of Japanese culture and in particular, as Brad mentioned in class, punctuality. I think many of us do not realize how important being on time is in Japanese culture. Being late reflects you as rebellion and even egocentric. It is a big deal in Japan- even a minute late could scratch a much lucrative deal.

My father is a trader/businessman who works with a Japanese company for almost 20 years. At home, my family always say he is always excited and early about doing things. For instance, if we have a dinner appointment at 7pm, he'll say that we'll leave house at 6.15 - more than sufficient time to reach our destination. But more often than not, he would be ready by 6pm and start to hassle everyone else to hurry up. Perhaps working with the Japanese have unconsciously made him part of that culture, in terms of punctuality.

Singapore has a population of just over 5 million, but only about 3 million are born and raised in Singapore. 1 million are permanent residents and the other 1 million are non-permanent. This figure is startling to me because our true culture is essentially only 3/5. One might say that having the other 2 million adds color to the original culture. Our country has always been a multi-cultural society, adding to the diversity of Singapore- and public holidays. I just feel that somehow, somewhere, Singapore is losing it's true identity. We are so focused on achieving economic growth that we just leave behind the past. Singapore's alittle bit like a kid fed with growth enhancing drugs- great in the short run, but the long term effects might not be too rosy. 3rd world country to 1st in one generation: now that's scary. Singapore is fast losing it's "country" status, and instead becoming a business corporation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Post 4

I believe language is fundamental to communication. Difference in language also directly expresses the difference in culture. For example, when I was in Thailand, I observed that the pace of life is much slower and simpler compared to Singapore. Hand gestures are more effective than verbal communication too as both sides could not speak each other language effectively.  Even our multi racial nation boasts different cultures across the Chinese, Malays and Indians. I have to be careful in my words and actions when I’m with my friends from other racial background as what I think might be okay, may be potentially offensive to them. I once made a joke about a certain racial group, but it struck a nerve and my friend did express his disapproval. I immediately retracted my actions and apologized.

That said, very different cultures exists even in places where the people speak English as their first language. When I was in the United States, I observed that simple, everyday words or phrases would have a different meaning, or the locals would not understand them at all. For instance, when we buy “take away” food, I have to say “to go” instead, or the waitress would not understand me. In restaurants, each table would have a designated waiter or waitress that would serve you throughout your meal, whereas back home, you can call any staff to assist you in your order. Tips are considered a standard practice in America too, but that is not the case in Singapore. When I was a student on exchange to America, I found that if I were to learn and be part of that culture I was in, it was easier to get things done and the locals would be more responsive to you as well.

I had an African American friend on exchange to Singapore. One of the first few things he asked me was both eye opening and intriguing- he asked if there was any place or area that he should avoid near campus or in Singapore in general. Initially, he did not believe me when I said “No”.  In the States, being “colored” could get you in trouble if you walked into the wrong neighborhood. In contrast, Singapore’s culture and subcultures are such that it has always provided us with a safe environment to live in.

Culture also affects the accessibility of information. I have observed that the locals tend to assist you more if you are able to speak their language- simply because they would feel comfortable speaking to you too. For example, in Thailand, my Singaporean friends who were able to speak basic Thai were able to negotiate a better deal when buying products, compared to someone who did not know the language. Also, in Thailand the white men are always targeted as they are believed to have a culture of being rich. I also heard that in France, the French refuses to speak English to you even if they knew how too. Thus, in my opinion, similar language is the fundamental to effective communication, especially between different cultures. One must also learn to respect and understand another’s culture to ensure proper communication.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Post: Application Letter

Tan Wei Sheng Lance
37 Japan Lane
(65) 97362221

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Advertisement on Straits Times Recruit: Civil Engineer/Geotechnical Engineer
I am writing to apply for the geotechnical engineer position advertised in The Straits Times. As requested, I am enclosing the relevant documents.
The opportunity presented in this listing is caught my attention because I believe that my strong interest in this field and education will make me a very competitive candidate for this position.
I am currently pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. I will be graduating in June 2012. During my term, I have interned at Eagles Services Asia Pte Ltd, attached to their Technical Services department, helping to implement a new communication software, as well as shadowing senior engineers during inspection and evaluation of products. I also participated in a student exchange program to University of California, Berkeley, where I gained much experience from my time there through interaction with people from all walks of life.
I was the captain of the NUS Track and Field team, hence I am confident that I have the ability to work and  lead a team if necessary. Furthermore, being a member of the National team in athletics also reflects my good work ethics and attitude. 
I feel, given the opportunity, I can integrate well with any team and contribute significantly to the company. I also posses a valid Singapore Class 3 driving license.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward in meeting you.

Yours Sincerely,

Tan Wei Sheng Lance



Civil Engineer/ Geotechnical engineer

  • Min Diploma/ Degree holder
  • Preferably with valid Singapore Class 3 driving lixense
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to work as a team
  • Good working attitude
Interested, please send documents to with expected salary.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Resolving Interpersonal Conflict (Post #2)

Nobody likes to face any interpersonal conflicts, especially if the conflict is between friends. I am someone who would try to bury the hatchet and not hold grudges should such a situation occur. I consider myself a fairly introvert person, but I am not afraid to speak up if necessary. 

This particular conflict involved myself and a fellow athlete during competition.

(For clarity, my team shall be named Team A, and our rival team named Team B)

One interpersonal conflict that I can recall happened about two years ago. As mentioned in my previous post, I compete regularly as a track and field sprinter. At a particular local athletics meet, I participated in the 4x100m relay.

Since the track and field fraternity in Singapore is fairly small, most of us know one another personally. As such, we were rivals on the track, friends off it. That said, respect and humility for each other is still a very important part in any sport and of course, in life too. One particular athlete crossed that line during this race- "Harry", the anchor runner for Team B, was a respected athlete by me and I considered him a good friend. However, this incident changed all that.

The race was exciting and exhilarating from the start till the end as both top teams were matched stride for stride. Both Team A and Team B passed off the baton to their respective anchor runners almost simultaneously. However, knowing that Team A's runner is much slower, Team B's anchor runner, Harry, was confident enough to run almost the entire race while turning his head to "look" at Team A's anchor runner. He completed this un-sportsmanship behaviour with hand gestures close to the finish line- as if to imply that he is unbeatable. 

Perhaps it was adrenaline and excitement that got the better of Harry. It is one thing to celebrate because you or your team is winning, but a complete different aspect when your actions are directed to the losing team.

Harry has always been known to be an arrogant and proud person. But every action has a limit.
I was not the only one who noticed or condemned Harry's inappropriate behaviour. With video replays shown around the stadium, I had a clear look of the events that unfolded. To say the least, I was disgusted with Harry's behaviour. Hence, when asked during a media interview after the race, I commented that "I felt his actions were unprofessional and a disgrace to athletics." Needless to say, relations between myself and Harry deteriorated, and we never saw eye to eye for the next few months.
However, as fate would have it, both Harry and I were drawn into the same relay team for a combined Universities Team. As I was appointed Captain of the team, it only made sense for me to try to mend this relationship not only for us, but for the sake of the team too.

Firstly, I dropped him an email apologizing for my comments, but at the same time, pointing out that his actions were uncalled for. I was sincere in my apology, but an email would not solve everything. Thus, I took the opportunity to speak to Harry personally when I saw him. 

Presently, things are not rosy between Harry and I- but I make it a point to start small talks with him when I see him. The ball is in his court.

How many times have we held grudges against someone who may have wronged you?
If we just “let it go” and try to mend strained relationships, perhaps the world would be a better place.