Saturday, August 16, 2014

Work in Singapore

One of the main points of me going to Singapore (other than the fact that it's Singapore and staying for a long period of time meant that the travel I could do would be amazing) was that I would have the opportunity to work. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, as when I agreed to go to Singapore all I knew was the name of the company I would be working for. 

Training Vision Institute was where I worked, and it is private company that works with Singapore's Workforce Development Agency. Training Vision offers classes for people with low-paying and/or low-skills jobs, in hopes that they can gain skills and get a better job. Many of the classes they offered were centered around language, as many people in low-skill jobs do not speak English. (English is one of Singapore's four national languages, and basically necessary anywhere in Singapore, except maybe Chinatown.) 

I had to apply for a work visa before I came, as I couldn't work without one. The paperwork wasn't hard, but I did have to go to great lengths to prove that I was actually a student, as the work visa I applied for was only for students. Of everyone who applies for the type of visa I did, only 2,000 are approved. Other than that, I'm not sure how competitive it is to get that specific visa, or how many foreign students even want to come work in Singapore, but either way, I was lucky to be approved.

I was picked up by a senior-level manager, William, the Friday before I started work. William took me to the Ministry of Manpower office, so I could finalize paperwork and get my picture taken for my card.
I worked in the Lifelong Learning Institute, which was brand new and had several different companies inside that essentially did the same work that TVI did. Because the buildings as new and it housed TVI's newest center for classrooms and its headquarters, most of my time working at TVI was spent preparing for the Open House event in July. 

The offices were really cool, and pretty high-tech, because they could build this building for what they would need, instead of turning a different building into a learning center.

This is what you saw when you walk in the front door.

The office is on the sixth floor, and we had a pretty good view.

Here's my first day of work selfie taken from the elevator, and a panorama of the inside of the building. The whole inside of the building was open, and the roof might have been open to the outside air, I'm not sure. It wasn't as freezing out there as it was inside the offices, but Singapore frequently air conditions outside, so it's a mystery.

A project I was put in charge of, and apparently needed pictures to prove it. This was a box for the "Lucky Draw" we had at many of the centers when we went to encourage the class participants to come to our open house. Inside the box were ping pong balls with numbers on it, corresponding to prizes. Some of the prizes were pretty cool, and the students in the classes got really into it. I had a lot of people asking me (in Chinese) if they could either re-draw or just change their prize all together, without another draw. The answer was always no, but at the end I basically gave up and would say yes to anyone. When your job is to hold a box out to people, the details of the job can be a little fuzzy, so I made my own rules up. Plus, we had boxes and boxes of prizes to get rid of.

We also had a photo backdrop, and props. In some centers we went to, the pictures weren't that big of a deal, but in others, everyone wanted to take a picture. In this specific center, they weren't into taking pictures, until one woman pointed at me and said something in Chinese. I was pretty used to it by this point of my trip, so I knew they wanted a picture with me. I got it sent to me, and here it is. 

Ignatius, Grace and I. Grace and Ignatius worked in Customer Support, while I was with the Marketing team, but I saw them at least once a week. They were hysterical and I always loved seeing them.

This is Beekian, who was also on the Customer Service team. She was hysterical, loud, and very talkative. I loved when she would come into our offices, as I knew it wouldn't be a dull day. She also really liked to take selfies with me. 

This is Mala. She is the cleaner at the new offices, and one of the sweetest people I've ever met. She goes around doing her job quietly, and for a few weeks I didn't see her talking to anyone regularly. Then one day I moved working areas, and instead of a desk in the back I sat at a table in the front, near the front door. This meant that Mala would be walking by me several times (an hour, really). She started saying hi, almost being shy about it first. One time, she said hi to me, walked away, about 30 seconds later was walking back the other way, and would pass by a hallway through which she could see me again. Though we had just said hi to each other, she stopped, and waited for me to look up, so she could wave. She always had the biggest smile on her face, and gave me a big smile too. She normally wore a lavender and violet shirt, but this was a Friday and I caught her on the way out of the door. She was very confused as to why I would want a picture with her, but she is not someone I want to forget from my time in Singapore.

I'm not in this picture, but this is most of the upper-level people at Training Vision. I know most of these people, and every time I would see any of them they would ask me about my trip, how I was, and just generally be very pleasant. They were all very welcoming and kind, and for that I am very grateful.

A scene from our open house. In Singapore (could happen in other places too, but I don't know), they have a tradition to send these giant flower arrangements to new businesses, or businesses that have a big event of some sort. We had probably six, and they were all huge. While some of them are pretty tacky and ugly, some are cool, and the colorful stands make them more exciting and eye-catching than a regular bouquet or basket of flowers.

Me with the flowers, (that's totally a picture I had taken for a size perspective, not just because I was really close to the flowers and someone took a picture.) On the right is Ameera and I. Ameera was basically who I went to if I needed something to do, and she is probably the kindest and sweetest person ever. Also she was funny. I'll miss her, but we're Facebook friends so that's good.

My entire team (plus three), right after the open house finished. This was after a 10-hour (long) day, and we were just glad to be done. I'll miss all of them, too!

Front row: ?, Kady, Norin, Sharon, Ameera, Zong Jie, Jeremy
Back row: me, Ignatius, Kok Weng, Grace, Uichen.
I'd like to call this my official Training Vision portrait. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be able to work there this summer, and got to experience the culture of the other side of the world, and really know people from there. Working at TVI certainly won't be an experience that I will soon forget, or lose gratitude for.

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