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Full-time Job, Full-time Student

Published in Singapore Polytechnic's SPIRIT Magazine (Year 2014, Volume 2, Page 35)

· Media Interviews

This article first appeared on SPIRIT Magazine (Year 2014, Volume 2, Page 35) by Singapore Polytechnic. Original text by Andy Kwan. Link to original article here.

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The typical three-year SP journey is usually a busy one filled with course modules, projects, presentations and CCAs. Some others also take part in community service programmes and competitions. Is there still room to hold down a full-time job? Well, Jovan Tan tells SPIRIT that it is possible.

When Jovan Tan said that he had no life as a poly student, he really meant it, or at least half of it. Movies outings were rare and there was no free time to chill out. But the graduating student from the Diploma in Engineering with Business (DEB) was not complaining because, after all, he got compensated for not doing stuff that his course mates were doing (besides studying of course).

From year one, Jovan was already a full-time student and a full-time employee at Asus Global Pte Ltd, a leading computer brand. Prior to joining SP, he was already working part-time as he liked the feeling of earning his own money and being financially independent. He first started working at IT fairs for brands like Asus and with his innate gift of the gab, he often raked in the highest sales. Asus was impressed with his performance and offered him a full time job as a channel representative after his ‘O’ levels, and it was a job he held right through his three years in SP.

“Since my first day in poly, I paid for everything by myself, including my laptop,” says Jovan. His monthly income as a channel representative at Asus comprised both basic salary and a commission, which added up to a four-figure sum.

From his part-time sales job, Jovan developed a deep interest in the sales and marketing aspect of a business. He was firm on taking up a business diploma course but alas, with an aggregate score of 15 points for his ‘O’ levels, he could not get into any business courses in SP. But he spotted an engineering course that contained the word “business” – so never mind – he told himself – it was still a partial business course anyway.

As a channel representative, he assisted in the sales and marketing for the brand which included functions like gathering staff and customer feedback and ensuring that promotions were properly executed. His working hours were flexible, which explained how he could still continue with his full-time studies. On weekends, he would clock in eight to ten hours a day.

Curious how he performed after six semesters? “I don’t have an impressive Grade Point Average (GPA), just 3.15. But to me, this is already a perfect GPA. What is more important to me is the real working experience rather than just perfect scores,” he rationalises.

As his course had modules in two distinct disciplines, the street-smart Jovan knew he would not score well for the engineering ones. He worked hard on the business modules and impressed his lecturers with his presentation skills. “My stronger modules would offset the weaker ones and that would give me a good average GPA,” says Jovan.

During his first semester in his final year, Asus was looking for a product manager. He negotiated with the company to let him fill the position as his internship posting which he needed to fulfil. Having proven his capabilities for two years, they accepted his proposal and made him the Assistant Product Manager and he got involved with the commercial aspect of Asus business operations. He was involved in the full spectrum of product management - planning, marketing, business and partner development, supply chain, sales etc. Upon completing his internship, he continued to hold the position on a full-time basis and would do so until his national service.

He did not regret making these three years in his life revolve just around SP and Asus. “In SP, what I gained was business knowledge. The working experience at Asus translates the knowledge into reality for me. So in that sense, I get a full perspective of how a business is run, and not just through imagination,” says Jovan.

Jovan plans to continue with his career after national service, garner enough work experience and then further his studies. Also in the pipeline is a plan to start his own business and he has already started laying the groundwork to incorporate two companies with two other SP fresh graduates.


The Asus work culture embraces an open communication system where anyone can voice their ideas. Mr Alvin Huang, the Country Manager for Asus Singapore, interacted directly with Jovan and discovered his very positive attitude and deep passion.


“Any employee who possesses these two traits is valuable to the company. Jovan, even when he was just a sales staff, would share on what he saw was lacking in the company and give his suggestions. Even when I was away on business trips, he would call me on my mobile to give ideas,” said Mr Huang, who hopes Jovan will continue with Asus after his national service.

He is grateful that SP is willing to accommodate and let Jovan work full-time. His trust in the young employee is shown from how he allows Jovan access to the company’s budget and work plan which are confidential information. “He can show me what I sometimes can’t see. Every industry will need someone like him,” he added.

He feels that a valuable employee is one who, besides being knowledgeable in his area of speciality, such as research and development, also understands other aspects of business such as human resource and finance. He should be able to digest financial reports, analyse cash flow and handle presentations. Jovan, he felt, had demonstrated talent beyond his area and could value-add to the company.

#JOgraphy is the personal blog of Jovan Tan where he candidly shares his thoughts and views on a wide range of topics that are important to him. The views and opinions expressed in his writings do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of his companies or his affiliations.