We talk to Tan Zhi Qing on what it was like to be the Enactus pioneer in UniSIM.
What made you decide to take up Enactus projects, rather than join other similar societies, especially when there was no Enactus club in UniSIM then?As an organisation with global reach, Enactus brings together youths, academics and business leaders from different parts of the word to create progress through entrepreneurial action. It offers a unique experience that combines aspects of entrepreneurship with helping communities improve their livelihoods.Tell us more about your project.We are working to develop a platform to boost volunteerism amongst school-leaving youths and to enhance both volunteers’ and community partners’ experiences in the volunteering journey. We aim to address the drop in volunteering once students graduate from school.What were the challenges you faced as the pioneer Enactus member?My team and I faced the challenge of having to devise a plan from scratch. We also have to overcome the lack of technical skills in website or application development. Without a senior batch in Enactus to guide us, we were tested on our abilities to brainstorm and evaluate new ideas, with no prior experiences to draw references from. We needed to source for other possible alternatives and make sure that our prototype could deliver what we had in mind.Fortunately, we could benefit from the supportive environment that the Enactus community provides. We have a team of dedicated and supportive faculty members who render their assistance wherever possible. The mentors in Enactus are extremely supportive in giving us advice drawn from their wide range of expertise and experiences. The Enactus project workshops are also a conducive environment for facilitated discussions on projects. We have also benefited immensely form the opportunities to interact with seniors from other business schools.What have you gained from your Enactus experience?Through attending the Enactus project workshops, I learnt about the importance of engaging stakeholders such as community partners. In one of the activities, my team and I were tasked to conduct surveys on random shoppers and pose critical questions to better understand underlying problems in our community. We used the data collected to create suitable solutions for these issues. There was another activity where our team had to co-develop possible solutions with Enactus facilitators who role-played as community partners. Through such activities, we understood that effective communication and relationship building is key to working with stakeholders. Such opportunities also helped us analyse and reflect on the strengths and weakness of our solutions. Recently, we were even able to present and obtain beneficial insights and feedback on our project from industrial experts in DBS, NTUC and NVPC, which we have adopted for our project.Has it been challenging to balance school work with Enactus?From my own personal experience, this has not been too difficult. Firstly, Enactus workshops are concise so that we would not be overwhelmed by the content in a single session. Since the sessions are usually held on Saturdays, they do not clash with my classes or other school activities. Aside from attending workshops, my team and I would meet up once or twice a week to work on our project. As we are all working towards a common goal, our short meetings are very productive.Time management and planning ahead are important. We would always plan to reach an additional milestone in our project before an upcoming examination or assignment deadline. That my teammates are also my schoolmates has definitely helped as we are aware of everyone’s schedules and can help one another out.Any final words for us?As the pioneer batch of students in Enactus UniSIM, we aim to have more students join us on our journey to enable progress around the world. Having experienced the programme, I hope that I will be able to provide the guidance to benefit anyone that joins us.