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Alana Goh Peizhen

Please tell us more about where you are currently working at and what you are doing.

I am currently working in Mercer, one of the global market leaders in human capital consultancy, as an Analyst in the Careers Product team. Our consulting projects are based on compensation and benefits market data that we collect from companies through a comprehensive compensation survey. Projects range from job evaluations, to designing pay or grade structures for our clients. As an analyst, my job scope is not the most clearly defined but we are mainly responsible for roles such as supporting consultants in projects, handling client queries from in-house HR personnel, market research, and also prospecting for new clients. In our large team, each of us is responsible for multiple industries, but we also get to work on projects cross-industry. As a new joiner, I am also given the opportunity to be part of a team that does business development work, figuring out different ways to enter news market segments like the local medium-sized enterprises. 

What made you choose to do a degree in Social Sciences and why did you choose to do it in SMU?

I have always been interested in understanding how societies get from one point to another, how people change, and reasons for making the decisions they do. Social Sciences was the best fit for me in learning how to tackle such questions, and broadening my perspectives in how I can frame the world I live in. I chose to do it in SMU because four years ago, while I was choosing where to apply to, I was attracted to the small class sizes, and seminar learning environment instead of lecture-tutorial style. As a quiet and mostly introverted individual, I wanted to position myself in an environment where I would be forced to open up and be confident in speaking up as well.

How has the SOSS experience been for you, and how do you think it has benefitted you?

The SOSS experience has been incredible. We have a small cohort size with many interesting and intelligent peers. Conversations with friends and project mates are never quite as mundane when new perspectives are brought in. The professors who taught me are also passionate about their subjects, and are open to engage with us in discussions in and out of the classroom. At the onset, it had been intimidating for me to voice my own opinions. Along the way, I’ve learnt to be more open-minded about differing opinions, drilling in-depth to get to the heart of matters, and to back up opinions with sound facts.

Essentially I learned to be open, ask better questions, and make supported claims.

As we have lots of readings, I have learnt to read widely, and quickly too. Professors are widely read and would always be happy to provide book recommendations, or additional academic papers for leisure reading. Some are also patient in honing our writing skills so that we write with clarity, and precision. I cannot stress enough how much my writing skills have improved and they are important in allowing others to understand your thoughts and arguments. Overall, it has been a tough, but fruitful journey!

Do you have any advice for your juniors that are currently in SOSS or for those who are planning to join the SOSS family?

How you wish to approach your degree is highly dependent on the ultimate value you place upon it. Will it be a qualification mainly to serve as a gateway to a well-paying entry-level job? Will it be four years’ worth of experience that allows you to grow in both personal and professional ways?

I will advise with a caveat that this will not work for everyone. What worked for me was picking up modules, in and out of my main discipline (Sociology), that I was really interested to learn about. It may entail not-too-stellar grades, bewildered looks, and questions like, “Why are you taking this?!” After the first two semesters of mainly pre-assigned modules, I chose to take courses which were challenging but interesting to me. Those modules made a huge difference to how I learn and the overall experience was positive even though it came with steeper learning curves and somewhat mediocre grades. It could be a confirmation bias, but I noticed that those modules in which I scored below my usual average were those I had little interest in.

Enjoy what you would be learning, and make time to explore out of your scope of discipline, as you will never know what opportunities you may chance upon!

 

Last updated on 13 Sep 2017 .