16 worthwhile competitions for students to spend your free time on


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University is a time to try new things and challenge oneself. The best part is that opportunities to do so abound—. One is participating in competitions for students—or any that tickles your fancy! These offer ways to broaden your skills by presenting you with a challenge/brief revolving around real-world issues that need solving or challenges that exercise creativity.

Whether you win or not, you’ll still walk away with an increase in knowledge and experience (and a boost in resume & portfolio), which is a pretty good deal! What’s more, some competitions require little to no registration fee, some of which Digital Senior have carefully compiled in the list for you below. Clicking on the competition headings will take you to their respective sites!

Business Analytics Competitions

Organized by:  NUS Business School (NUS Masters of Science in Business Analytics) and Huawei Singapore

This challenge was previously open to only NUS students but is now open to all tertiary education students. It requires participants to form groups of four to six to build a stock trading model based on historical transaction data that allows users to “buy low, sell high” at the best timing. Teams will use Huawei’s ModelArts AI development platform for the challenge.

The top 8 teams will receive coaching and mentoring before proceeding to the finals.

Deadline: 27 Feb (2023, for registration)

Prizes: SGD10,000 cash prize for Grand Winner, SGD5,000 and SGD3,000 cash prizes for second and third-placing teams respectively

Open to: Students from all universities and polytechnics in Singapore

Art Competitions

Organized by: The Welrformat Association

The internationally recognised Weltformat Graphic Design Festival will be held in Lucerne for the 15th year and will host its annual Newcomer Award. The theme will be revealed later, and participants are welcome to submit posters depicting personal, social or political issues.

Deadline: Upload entries (3 maximum) to the festival’s community area by 1 August (2021’s competition). Details for 2023’s competition have yet to be released.

Prizes: The winning poster will be shown at 500 locations throughout Switzerland after the exhibition, while the twenty best posters will be presented in an exhibition. There will also be audience voting; the poster creator with the most-voted poster will receive a voucher from Grilli Type, an independent Swiss-type foundry.

Open to: Anyone under 30

Organized by: MALAMEGI company

This is a contest for contemporary art organized by an artistic furniture accessories company, welcoming works in drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph, graphic, mixed media and video formats. You can submit up to 6 artworks (submission fee applies).

Prizes: Cash prize, chance for artwork to be exhibited at the final exhibition at Venice

Deadline: 9 March (2023)

Open to: All artists

Design Competitions

Organized by: Alternative Future Limited 

The International Visual Identity Awards (IVIA) is an independent global graphic design competition currently in its 10th year. You will have to submit a logo and examples of its application across different items as part of a brand’s visual identity system.

The competition has 21 categories in total, ranging from healthcare to energy/utilities. The student category allows you to submit concept or speculative work. Do note that this competition has an entry fee.

Deadline: 30 March (2023)

Prizes: Press release coverage circulated to all the major marketing and design media worldwide, and a feature on the IVIA website

Open to: Full-time students in a recognised educational institution

Organized by: CZECHDESIGN.CZ (since 2009)

This long-standing competition (over 20 years old) calls for innovative and functional models of paper packaging centred around specific themes every year. Truly successful designs stand the opportunity to have their designs realized and used commercially. Past themes include packaging for tea and sweets, with last year’s revolving around food.

The 2023 competition is grander and larger, with 2 rounds. The theme is “Thirsty for Packaging”, and young designers aged 15 and above will compete in Round 1 before facing off against top designers’ submissions in Round 2.

Deadline: 31 March (2023)

Prizes: 1st place = Up to EUR 5,000 (SGD 7,143), 2nd place = EUR 3,000 (SGD 4,286), 3rd place = EUR 2,000 (SGD 2,857), other special prizes such as a paid internship at Model Group

Open to: High school (includes college) students, university students, designers

Photography Competitions

Photography Competitions

Organized by: World Photography Organisation

This competition calls for entries revolving around the theme “In a Changing World”, where student photographers submit five to ten images taken in 2023 shot on any device and taken in any style. The Student Photographer of the Year will win himself/herself and his/her university a combined total of €30,000 (SGD 48,374) in Sony digital imaging equipment. You can also choose to enter the Open Competition.

Deadline: 2023’s competition has closed; keep an eye out for 2024’s!

Prizes: Winners (up to ten photographers) will receive a range of prizes, which includes Sony digital imaging equipment, trophies, and global press exposure.

Open to: Anyone aged from 18 to 30 years old undertaking a full-time photography programme taught at the higher education level.

Architecture Competitions

Architecture Competitions

Asia Young Designer Award (AYDA)*

* Also has Interior Design Category 

Organized by: Nippon Paint Singapore

The AYDA looks for designs that are bold, innovative, and forward/future-looking. Award participants have to use Nippon Paint’s colours and products in their designs and submit a comprehensive presentation board including details such as the project’s design statement, existing site photos if applicable and perspectives of the project in 3D. 2022’s theme was “Converge: Pushing the Reset Button”.

The competition’s participants hail from different parts of Asia, and it has received over 41,000 entries to date.

Deadline: To be announced: the AYDA International Awards will be held around June/July 2023

Prizes (2022’s for reference):

  • International Grand Winner:
    • Chance to attend a three-week, all-expenses-paid Design Discovery Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, U.S.A.
    • Nippon Paint Colour Award: Cash prize of USD1,000 (SGD 1312)
    • Best Sustainable Design: Cash prize of USD1,000
    • Best Design Impact: Cash prize of USD1,000
  • National Winners
    • Gold Award (SGD 1,500)
    • Silver Award (SGD 1,000)
    • Bronze Award (SGD 500)
    • Special Awards (SGD 300 each).

Open to: Design students enrolled in tertiary education institutions

Writing Competitions

Writing Competitions

Organized by: BBC in partnership with the British Council. The competition is co-produced with The Open University.

Writing stories for reading and writing stories for hearing challenge you in different ways; with the latter, you can play with audio effects and silences/pace for dramatic effects. If you’re daring enough to give it a gander—there have been winners with no radio playwriting experience—submit a 53-minute play to the BBC and stand to hear it aired live on their channel! Fantastic opportunity, if I do say so myself.

Deadline: 12 February (2023)

Prizes:2 winners for 1st prize: one for persons with English as a first language and one for persons with English as a second language. 1st prize = £2500 sterling (SGD 4,001) and a trip to London (with airfare and accommodation for the winner) to see the play being recorded and attend a prize-giving ceremony. Special prize (Georgi Markov prize) for script with the most potential = 2 weeks mentorship with BBC Radio Drama as well as BBC World Service.

Open to: Non-UK residents aged 18 and above

IT Competitions

Organized by: Anthology magazine

Part of the Anthology Creative Awards, which also has poetry, photography and cover art competitions, the short story competition invites you to submit an original and unpublished piece not more than 1,500 words long. Multiple entries are allowed but you will have to pay separate entry fees (€12–€18) for each. There is no restriction on style or theme, but all stories must be written in English. 

Deadline: 31 August (2023)

Prizes: €1,000 cash prize and 1-year Anthology subscription, plus a chance to have winning piece published in a future issue of the magazine (winner). The runner-up and second runner-up receive a €250 and €150 cash prize respectively

Open to: All, no age limit

IT Competitions

Organized by: HITLI

A global company designing and making leading-edge technologies for the professional construction industry, HITLI runs its IT competition annually to help talented students kick-start their careers through brainstorming and coming up with solutions to problems faced by the professional construction industry—that can be helped by IT, of course.

Deadline: 17 February (2023)

Prizes: 1st place = paid study trip, 2nd and 3rd place = Hitli power tool, all finalists = fast-track application process for a paid internship with Hitli

Open to: Undergraduate and postgraduate students of any discipline worldwide

Entrepreneurship Competitions

Organized by: Reply 

The Reply Code Challenge (Standard) is an online 4-hour-long team-based programming competition. Entry is free. In groups of 2 to 4, you will work together to solve a problem statement; winners will be announced within 10 days of the challenge ending.

The competition also has a University Students League. The final score that your team receives will be added to the University Leaderboard, and the university with the most points may win a Reply Arcade Game cabinet or financial donation to support an educational or research project! Alumni will also have a chance to contribute to this Leaderboard.

Deadline: 9 March (2023)

Prizes: MacBook Pro for each member of the Winning Team, Apple Watch for each member of the runner-up team, Apple Air Pods for each member of the second runner-up team

Open to: Students and professional coders aged 16 and older

Entrepreneurship Competitions

Organized by: Entrepreneur’s Organization

If you’re a student entrepreneur with an innovative business and are in need of some mentorship/connections, the GSEA is for you. Started in 1998 in the USA, the GSEA has since seen hundreds of applications from all around the world.

Deadline: The 2022-2023 run is currently underway

Prizes (2022-2023): Prizes vary by location. At the Global Finals: 1st prize = USD 50,000 (SGD 65,631) and a paid travel/expenses trip to the GSEA Finals, 2nd prize = USD 25,000 (SGD 32,615), Total cash prizes amount to US$100,000

Open to: Part-time or full-time undergrad/grad students under 30 years of age who own, are the founders or controlling shareholders of their company, and are mainly responsible for its operation. The company must have been in operation for six consecutive months.

Science Competitions

This challenge seeks to crowdsource a new and innovative chemical detection method for Hydrazine/MMH, a highly toxic and dangerous substance critical for flight safety. It is conducted in 3 phases, namely conceptualisation, prototyping and demonstrations. Phase 2 and 3 are only open to Phase 1 winners (5 in total).

Organized by: Floor23 Digital, in collaboration with NASA Tournament Lab

You can participate as an individual or as part of a team.

Deadline: March 14 (2023)

Prizes: A prize pool of $47,000 for successful solutions, as well opportunity for winners to meet with NASA’s Materials & Components Team to share their solutions. There are prizes for each phase.

Open to: All

Organized by: Edu.Harbour

First held in 2019, the competition asks you to submit solutions to 5 astronomy problems and score 20 points to proceed to the pre-final round. While entry for the qualification round is free, you will have to pay 8 EUR to participate in the pre-final.

All participants will receive a participation certificate.

Deadline: 21 April (2023)

Prizes: USD150, USD100 and USD50 cash prizes for the Top 3 winners respectively

Open to: High school and university students

Other Competitions

Organized by:

Launched in 2006, the Radical Innovation Award focuses on the hospitality and design industry. Participants need to submit concepts or ideas that provide consumers new experiences, or offer the field’s players revenue growth opportunities or operating cost-saving opportunities.

The student categories do not require an entry fee and up to 3 entries are accepted. There are two categories. The first, Radical Concept, is for a project that is in the early phase of the design process. The second, Radical Product Concept, is for a project in its early design  phase.

Deadline: 1 June (2023)


  1. Student Design Winner: Cash prize and the opportunity to qualify for a university assistantship (at the University of Las Vegas Nevada to their Masters of Architecture program, The University of Illinois Teaching Assistantship to their School of Architecture, or NYU for a graduate degree from the NYUSPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality)
  2. Student Product Design Concept Winner/Student Prototype Product Winner: Cash prize and the opportunity to attend Blackfire Innovation

Open to: University students

Organized by: Shell

An international competition/student engineering programme, Shell Eco-marathon brings together student teams to design a Prototype or an Urban Concept car and compete on the tracks. While the competition’s regional events have resumed after a pause due to the pandemic, there is an Autonomous Programming Competition held virtually. In 2020, two teams from Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University received the Technical Innovation Award and Vehicle Design Award, respectively.

Deadline: Registration for the 2023 round has closed, but keep an eye out for 2024’s!

Prizes: Certificates will be awarded, and there will be prize money for the virtual competitions

Open to: Students 16 and above enrolled in e-universities, colleges and secondary schools preparing students for higher education degrees, vocational training certificates, professional certificates or official second-level school-leaving examinations. Members of the same team must be from the same educational institution


This is by no means an exhaustive list! There are many competitions out there that you can find with the help of a Google Search or two, so go online and find out what you can participate in! Choose one that tickles your fancy and put it on your to-do list: by doing so, you’re already a winner for having tried. We wish you luck!

15 places to get affordable glasses in Singapore


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Can’t live without glasses? You’re definitely not alone: in 2019, 83% of Singapore’s young adults were found to be myopic[1].

With glasses being necessary for many of us, it can get tough when they are costly. Fortunately, affordable options have grown in recent years — without the need to compromise on quality or aesthetics. Cheap yet good? Score! Without further ado, here are some eyewear retailers to check out*.

*Prices are accurate as of date of publishing and may change. Costs may go up depending on add-ons and lens power

1) Owndays


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With branches everywhere you go, the Japanese eyewear chain Owndays is probably the most well-known eyewear retailer on this list. They’re popular for their same-day processing (twenty minutes to an hour on average) and fun collaboration frames — past collections include Sanrio’s Cinnamoroll, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Pokémon. You can try them on their website virtually.

All Owndays spectacles come with dust-repellent coating and UV protection. Here’s some good news: if your spectacles have any issues when you are abroad and are under warranty, you can take them and the warranty card to any of their stores! Just contact the outlet you’ve purchased them from beforehand.

The store occasionally runs buy-one-get-one (BOGO) or 50%-off-second-pair promotions. Do keep an eye out and join their membership club to stay updated! Do note that premium lenses may take additional processing time.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD98

2) Lenskart


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Lenskart began as an online contact lens retailer in India. Today, it is a global eyewear chain with multiple branches across Singapore. The retailer currently offers 60% off your first pair of spectacles or sunglasses (selected frames and lenses only) and runs a buy-one-get-one promotion for customers with a gold membership. The BOGO offers and other promotions are sometimes offered during festive periods. For individuals with high degrees — which makes spectacles a lot costlier — these offers help shave off significant costs.

Like Owndays, the Lenskart website also has a virtual try-on feature. Their lenses have anti-glare and UV protection and are scratch and smudge resistant.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD98

3) Foptics


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Foptics is a crowd favourite for its affordable and stylish options. The local retailer has three physical stores located at Chinatown, Commonwealth and Changi City Point. You can also purchase their glasses online with a 10% discount code, which is made easier with their virtual try-on feature!

Foptics lenses include UV400, electromagnetic protection, scratch resistance and water-resistant coating. If the power of your current spectacles is adequate, and you are comfortable proceeding without an eye examination to confirm your prescription, Foptics offers a lens scanning service that retrieves your optical details. This makes online purchasing more convenient.

The scanning service may not work for those with high degrees, however.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD35.90

4) Otago Optical

Located at South Bridge Road, Otago Optical achieves affordability by specialising in unbranded frames. The local retailer aims to provide trendy and quality eyewear at affordable prices via reliable eye check-ups: all frames and lenses are optical-grade, the latter coming with UV-blocking and anti-reflective coating. The eyewear retailer is owned and staffed by experienced eyecare professionals, so you can rest assured.

The retailer offers a 20-minute express service for most single-vision prescriptions. Check out their “Promotions” page for festive or limited-time deals!

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD45.90, with packages available for different needs

5) Zoff


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Zoff is another eyewear retailer giant with over 200 shops in Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Japanese brand prides itself on Japanese-quality trendy eyewear, with fast service: you can collect your glasses within half an hour if they use standard prescription lenses (subject to lens availability). In fact, it prides itself on rolling out new frame designs twice monthly, with fun Disney and Peanuts collections in the mix.

Parents with children will find the Zoff-U15 programme especially helpful. Through the programme, Zoff offers free lens changes anytime within a year of purchase for children aged 15 and under if there has been a prescription change.

Zoff’s standard lenses are made in Japan; they are scratch-resistant, anti-reflective and have UV380 protection.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD98

6) Monocle


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Monocle is a local, independent eyewear retailer established in 2019 with a studio located at 37 Keong Saik Road. Their fun personality-named frames are designed in-house with Italian cellulose acetate, stainless steel and titanium, and their lenses are made in Singapore by the brand’s lens laboratory partners.

Monocle prides itself on using premium materials, with cost savings passed down to customers via a direct-to-consumer approach. All of Monocle’s lenses offer anti-glare coating, UV protection as well as anti-electromagnetic ray coating for digital devices. They are preparing a virtual try-on feature for their website, but until that is ready, why not swing by their showroom?

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD105

7) Four eyes


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Four eyes is another independent, local direct-to-consumer eyewear retailer. They offer a unique and free try-at-home service, which came to life out of necessity when COVID-19 broke out and the lockdown made it challenging for people to purchase spectacles.

Four eyes is a witty name based on their model. Here’s how it works:

  1. Browse their frames and choose 4 pairs that hit your fancy, then checkout via the “Try at home for free” option
  2. After trying them out, place an order for any frames you like
  3. Return them to four eyes via the enclosed smartpac mailer within 5 days

Do note that four eyes charges a deposit. This is 100% refundable if trial frames are returned on time and undamaged.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD99

8) Visual Mass


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Founded to provide design-conscious eyewear at an affordable price, Visual Mass offers stylish Korean-made frames made from a variety of materials. The brand has run BOGO promotions, with complimentary hi-index multicoated lenses, or 30% off a single pair, so do keep an eye out for these prices!

Visual Mass’s lenses are UV 400-protected, anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, hydrophobic, and smudge resistant. Their store is located at Orchard Gateway,

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD95

9) Orian Eyewear

Orian Eyewear is a second-generation optical shop run by a father-daughter pair, which focuses on affordable eyewear with honest pricing. The retailer offers a wide variety of frame designs at a fixed price; you will have to swing by their physical outlets to view their complete range.

Orian Eyewear uses lenses made by leading professional ophthalmic lens manufacturers. Drop by their stores if you require your spectacles on the same day.

You can browse their frames in-store at Tai Seng Mall or BreadTalk iHQ.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD48

10) SmartBuyGlasses

SmartBuyGlasses was launched in 2006 and operates solely via e-commerce in Singapore. The eyewear retailer offers a 24-month warranty for defective products as well as a 100-day return policy. There is a huge variety of frames for your selection and a virtual try-on feature to help you make an informed choice. Check out their “sales” tab for relevant promotions, and check back regularly — they have run 50% off promotions before.

As this is an e-commerce store, review the reviews carefully before making your purchase.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD14

11) Mimeo Optical


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Mimeo Optical is located at Marina Square. The retailer offers lenses that are anti-reflection, smudge-resistant, scratch resistant, dust-repellent and water-repellent. It has a membership programme (Friends of Mimeo), which offers up to 20% off storewide and a birthday voucher. FOM members are also entitled to 20% off branded lenses.

While you can send in a price check request via their site, you will have to visit their physical store to purchase.

Prices: Single prescription lens start from SGD19, and spectacle frame prices start from SGD90

12) Sightonomy

Sightonomy operates via a direct-to-consumer model, passing on cost savings this way. The retailer has a physical store in Chinatown and if you’re a student, you’re entitled to education discounts for in-store purchases.

Educational discount details:

For in-house products, you can get SGD20 off every pair of spectacles purchased with a minimum spend of SGD75. You’ll get an additional 20% discount when you spend $150 or more for the same pair (after SGD20 discount is applied).

For branded ophthalmic lenses, you can enjoy 20% off, and you will also receive the frames for free. You must spend SGD150 minimum.

All Sightonomy lenses come with anti-reflective coating, super-hydrophobic coating, UV protection and are scratch resistance treated.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD75, and CDC vouchers can be used in-store

13) Eyecon Optical

At Textile Centre, Eyecon Optical offers reasonable prices for its frames and lenses, with the latter being anti-reflective, scratch-resistant and anti-EMI. They also offer UV protection. Eyecon Optical and its professionals are affiliated with the International Medical Consultancy.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD54+

14) Oblique Eyewear


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Open daily, Oblique Eyewear began online but now has a physical store at the former Cathay building. The store offers glasses at low prices and custom tinted sunglasses lenses we just had to mention.

Oblique Eyewear occasionally offers festive promotions and also runs a trade-in programme where you can trade your old glasses in any condition for an SGD50 discount off a frame-with-lens purchase. Keep an eye out for these deals! The eyewear retailer has express service, which allows you to collect your glasses within the same day.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD95

15) Glimpse

Glimpse has physical stores located across Singapore in various malls, such as Century Square, Westgate, The Centerpoint, Bugis Junction and others. The eyewear retailer has run BOGO promotions before, as well as 50% off the second pair.

Prices: Spectacle prices start from SGD88

A good pair of glasses will help you maintain your eyesight and prevent more problems from arising. We hope you find a good pair from one of these retailers. Wishing you the gift of clear sight!


[1] https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/speech-by-dr-lam-pin-min-senior-minister-of-state-for-health-at-the-opening-of-the-singapore-national-eye-centre-s-myopia-centre-16-august-2019

3 things to do even if you love your job


Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot of news regarding heavy tech layoffs in leading companies many of us aspire to work at. Meta, Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Spotify — the list goes on. To date, over 70,000 big tech employees have been laid off[1].

Many of us have thankfully been unaffected, but coming from an industry previously believed to be a cast iron rice bowl, these changes are no less alarming. Here are 3 things to do even if you are in a stable job you enjoy so that you will be prepared for any unexpected changes that come your way!

1) Ask yourself what you’d do if you were fired

As recent events have suggested, bad things can happen at any moment. Your company could file for bankruptcy overnight, or technological advancements could potentially render your role redundant. Recently, prominent media company Buzzfeed let go of 180 employees (12% of their workforce) and will start working with OpenAI to generate content[2].

Did you know that many retrenched individuals are high-performers and capable staff? This is why you should not write off the possibility of retrenchment happening to you and ask yourself every so often what you would do if it did. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is the industry you’re in hiring for your role?
  • Have you kept your resume up to date?
  • Is this the right time to take a break or pursue something you’ve always wanted to do?
  • Do you have enough funds to tide you over if you start job hunting again?

You should also familiarise yourself with the steps you’ll need to take post-retrenchment. This will help you save valuable time. These include:

  • Clarifying the reason for your dismissal (if it is unclear)
    • Is the layoff permanent, or are you being furloughed?
  • Checking if you are entitled to a severance package
  • Acquiring references (especially from your direct supervisor)
  • Reminding yourself that retrenchment does not define you as a person

Some people also post a “goodbye message” on LinkedIn sharing about their retrenchment, positive experiences with their former workplaces, and wishing them well: such posts help signal that you are looking for work and can reflect your skills and working experience. Your connections may also share them and link you to opportunities. This is something you can consider doing as well. Why not spend some time jotting down some relevant points that may help you write one?

Start adding your colleagues on Linkedin if you have not done so, too!

2) Get to know your expenditure on a deeper level

This is numero uno to developing healthy financial habits. It is also especially important to know how much you spend on discretionary expenses from month to month in case something unexpected happens (like losing your job or a sudden lifestyle change).

Know this already but haven’t gotten around to finding out? This is the sign to do so! You must be prepared for various possibilities, such as your salary staying the same or not receiving a bonus this year. There are tons of useful budgeting apps in the market or free excel templates you can reference. SGFinDex has also made it so much easier to access consolidated financial information — try using it once for a rough overview of your assets and liabilities.

Did you know that the higher inflation rates we’ve seen recently (~5%) are a result of “revenge spending” and discretionary expenses?

3) Familiarise yourself with company policies

If your company has an employee handbook, skim through it again to ensure you are aware of its policies. Your contract, too! Some companies have non-compete clauses preventing you from working, for example, or engaging in business in relevant markets or geographies for a fixed period of time. These usually apply to those in senior positions, but best to check and be safe than sorry.

Breaching them, if they are enforceable, can lead to your former employer filing for an injunction or claiming damages.

Of course, you should also read the handbook to stay updated on other information, such as benefits. The handbook may also offer insight into your company’s culture.

Don’t forget to consider upskilling opportunities or look at career cushioning while you set up your contingency plan. We hope you’ve found this article useful!




[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/18/tech-layoffs-microsoft-amazon-meta-others-have-cut-more-than-60000.html

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/chatgpt-stock-buzzfeed-layoffs-jobs-investors-economy-recession-markets-meta-2023-1

All You Need to Know About an Undergraduate Research Assistantship


If you consider yourself a Google search expert — a skill that, admittedly, not all have — or if you have a curiosity that keeps you up at night trawling through the internet, you may just be suitable for a research role, and what better way to explore this path than through a research assistantship.

What is an RA, and what are some duties of an RA?

As the name suggests, an undergraduate research assistant (RA) is an assistant to a professor, who provides administrative and research support relevant to the professor’s research project. It is somewhat comparable to internships that you would typically undertake with companies where, in this case, you work closely with a professor on specific projects.

Depending on which faculty the professor is from and their area of research, as well as the stage that the research project is at, the duties of an RA can vary widely. A common responsibility of an RA is to perform desk research on the topic of interest relevant to the project. Some other common tasks include conducting surveys, interviews, and other forms of field research, collecting data, running or facilitating experiments, managing data sets, data analysis, knowledge management (organizing information and resources), writing, proof-reading, and other administrative support tasks.

How to get an RA position

Now, you must be wondering, how does one apply for an RA position? There are typically 2 ways: one is if your professor explicitly shares about available positions, and another – the more common pathway – is to approach your university professor to ask if they currently need help with any of their research projects and if they are willing to take you in as an RA. Pretty straightforward, right? Do note that if you were to approach a professor, you should first do a background check on their areas of research to see if it aligns with your interests, and ideally, through classes and interactions with the professor, discern if their working style suits you.

My experience applying for an RA position with a professor started because of my interest in exploring research and doing a senior thesis. At the same time, providentially, I had taken a class with a professor that I really liked and took an interest in her research. At the end of the semester, I decided to reach out to her via email to ask if there were any potential RA opportunities for me, and that is how I got it.

Do RAs get paid? How much?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of a Research Assistantship – how much do RAs get paid? Well, it really depends. Depending on the work that you will be assigned and your professor’s available project grant or university funds, you may either be paid an hourly rate or a lump sum amount for specific tasks. In my case, I was offered a lump sum payment of S$250 for my assignment, which included conducting 3 semi-structured, in-depth interviews and writing detailed field notes after, as well as discussing some preliminary themes and analyses with my professor. Others may be paid by the hour for the work they do, and the hourly rate will often be based on the university’s standard hourly rate for part-time student employment. For reference, Singapore Management University’s undergraduate part-time hourly is $13, though it may vary across the different universities.

Are there any other benefits of a Research Assistantship?

Other than being able to earn some extra pocket money during the semester or semester break – as you would with an internship – a Research Assistantship gives you the opportunity to develop a working relationship with a professor, thereby opening up future opportunities and connections for research in that professor’s area of expertise. This is especially so if you are keen on pursuing further studies and/or academia, as the professor might be able to provide helpful advice and mentorship, as well as serve as a character referee for postgraduate or job applications if they can attest to your abilities and work ethic.

If you’re intimidated or hesitant to approach a professor because you have mediocre (or even below-average) grades or were not successful in making an impression on the professor through class participation, this anecdote is for you! A friend of mine who was struggling academically and anxious to boost his resume took the step to approach his professor about the possibility of a Research Assistantship. While the professor already had an RA, he recommended my friend to a fellow professor who was looking for an RA. This gave him an opportunity to gain some additional experience on top of his internships.

As the saying goes, fortune favours the brave. If you’re keen to get a glimpse of research work and academia, an undergraduate Research Assistantship is a great place to start!

3 module planning tips from an NUS undergraduate


Hello, everyone! It’s been a while, but I’m finally back and ready to share my experiences. This time, I will share some advice on how to plan your modules. Module planning is every university student’s nightmare, especially for students who have not officially entered university. There are so many websites, especially for NUS — NUS Mods, NUS Canvas, NUS Edurec…it’s hard enough keeping track of these sites.

Additionally, for prospective FASS and FoS students, the new CHS curriculum is so hard to plan for. There are 13 mandatory modules, and figuring out which modules are pre-allocated to you and which modules are not is just a pain.

But don’t worry! I’m here to make it a lot easier for everyone. I’ve been through the system, I’m studying at NUS, and with almost two full years of experience, I think I’m qualified to give some advice. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

One final note: the most important websites you could use specifically for NUS are NUS Mods, the NUS CHS website, the NUS major modules (i.e. NUS psychology modules for me), and NUS major graduation requirements.

1. Find a Common Curriculum

For prospective undergraduates, the simplest first step is to find out whether you have a common curriculum. Many universities often have a common curriculum that is mandatory for undergraduates, particularly within Singapore. However, overseas universities might not have this.

In order to find the common curriculum, keywords such as “x university x faculty common curriculum” can be used. For example, googling “FASS graduation requirements” brought me to a PDF, which then brought me to the FASS website. The FASS website has an explicit section for graduation requirements and an option titled, “Cohort 2021 and After, CHS Common Curriculum”.

Alternatively, you can pay attention to news regarding the university. For example, the new CHS curriculum and the merging of Yale-NUS with USP have gained media coverage within Singapore. If you are a prospective NUS student, this is very pertinent to you and you might want to be aware of this.

If you have no common curriculum, congratulations — feel free to move on and read the next tip. However, if you have a common curriculum, the next step would be to find the modules inside the curriculum.

For NUS, clicking on the CHS Common Curriculum option will bring you directly to the CHS website that lists the common modules. The website also shows the pre-allocation of modules, and which modules will be pre-allocated to you in year 1. It also shows the different modules per semester.

Once you have this knowledge, this leads me to step two: map your modules.

2. Map Your Modules

Now that you know the common curriculum modules you must take, it is time to map them! But what exactly does this mean?

Module mapping is a process many undergraduates do to plan for the next four years of university. It helps you see which modules you will be taking during which semester. It also helps with counting the number of module credits (MCs) per semester. The number of MCs is especially important, as you need to make sure you have enough to graduate.

But how do you map your modules? Simple. First, open up either an excel sheet or a google drive sheet. Next, you can have headings for the four years of university, and separate them by semester e.g. “y1s1”, “y1s2” etc. Underneath each heading, list the modules you will be taking. Next to the module, list the number of MCs it provides.

Here is my personal plan as an example:

If you have a common curriculum, fill those modules up first. Afterwards, every major will likely have one or two common gateway modules that they have to take. These gateway modules will most likely be pre-allocated to you in year one of university, so put that module code in your year one plan.

From my plan, all the blue colours are CHS common curriculum modules. The year one CHS modules are compulsory and thus pre-allocated. The other CHS modules require you to bid for them, so I just use them to balance my workload. You can see that later on, during my 4k modules (some of the heaviest modules you can take as an undergraduate), I add a lot of CHS modules or UEs (unrestricted electives) to ensure my workload is not too bad.

Additionally, every major will likely have mandatory core modules. A simple google search of “x university [major] modules” will show you all the modules you can take, and the graduation requirements will tell you which are core (i.e. mandatory) modules.

In my plan, PL1101e and PL2131 will be pre-allocated to you in your first year. However, PL2132 and all 3k modules for NUS psychology are mandatory. Thus, as a psychology undergraduate, I must take all of them at some point in the four years of university.

You can simply use google to help you find out your mandatory modules. I google “NUS psychology modules” to see the whole list of modules. “NUS psychology graduation requirements” also shows me the core modules I have to take. The website that lists NUS psychology modules also shows the requirements for those modules, which helps me plan.

For example, when looking at 4k modules, I need to complete 80 MCs. In each semester, I take around 20 MCs. This means that I need at least four semesters before I can take a 4k module, and thus those modules will likely be taken during years three or four.

This is a complicated process and requires a lot of time and research, so I suggest you make time for it. Schedule a day where you just sit down and construct one mapping plan. It might not be the final, and it is likely that you will change it, especially for your UEs or if you have failed to bid for a module. However, a brief plan is better than nothing at all.

Overall, to make life a little bit easier, I suggest that you: a) start with pre-allocated common curriculum modules; b) put in pre-allocated major gateway modules; and c) fill in the mandatory modules (for both your major and the common curriculum modules) as you go.

One final thing to note is the semester. For NUS, you can use NUS Mods to see which semester the module will be available in. Normally, for very common modules e.g., common curriculum and common major modules, it will be offered in every semester. However, there are exceptions – the HS and HSI 2k modules in my plan are semester-dependent. Thus, you need to double-check to see if you have planned correctly.

Additionally, you can note down whether you can SU the module or not. SU means that the module credits will be counted, but the grade you obtain will not be counted towards your CAP. It can be useful to know which modules you can SU and which modules you cannot, but this is slightly advanced. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stick to the basic plan of module mapping.

3. Double-check Graduation Requirements

Once you have mapped the basic modules (i.e. the common curriculum and the gateway modules), it is time to check your graduation requirements. A google search of “NUS psychology graduation requirements” brings me to a website that lists everything very explicitly. Once you have these requirements, you need to map the necessary modules onto your plan.

However, I suggest you take it step by step. First cover the core lower-level modules, then work your way up. For example, for NUS psychology, begin by mapping PL1101E, PL2131 and PL2132.  You will get PL1101E and PL2131 in year 1, so you can fill that in. I also strongly suggest that you take PL2132 as soon as possible, because it is a foundational module. A lot of higher-level modules will have PL2132 as a prerequisite, particularly laboratory modules and 4k modules. Thus, I suggest you place it in year two semester one.

Next, you move on to the 3k core modules. Also remember to check the prerequisites for each module so you know when you can take it! For psychology 3k modules, the only prerequisite is PL1101E. Thus, when you have completed that module, you can start to clear your 3k modules.

I personally was able to take PL1101E in my first semester of university. Thus, in my second semester, I actually took two 3k modules. This helped me a lot, especially in terms of clearing mandatory modules for psychology. For psychology, you also have to map a laboratory module, so keep that in mind when planning.

Finally, you can move on and map the 4k modules. Do take note that NUS psychology 4k modules require you to complete 80 MCs, which means that you have to complete at least four semesters of university before you can even take them. Thus, these 4k modules are likely mapped onto years three and four of university.

Once you have finished mapping the modules for your common curriculum and the necessary modules for graduation, you can now start filling in the spaces for your unrestricted electives! For NUS, you need 48 MCs of unrestricted electives if you are taking a single major — roughly 12 additional modules. The number of MCs required differs for a single or double major, or anything else, so do check that before you plan this.

For finding potential UEs, you can use NUS Mods to search keywords related to your personal interests. For example, I search for words like “crime”, “deviance”, “China” etc. because of my interests in these topics. Based on your search, modules will show up, and you can then pick and choose the ones you want to study.

Finally, if you want to go for an exchange programme, you should plan it now. Pick the semester you prefer, and ensure that you have put that in your plan. You should also google to check what you can and cannot map for an exchange. For NUS psychology, for example, you can only map one 4k module on exchange. So do keep that in mind.

And that’s it! That’s the end of the planning session! I know it is a lot to take in. And it is likely very complicated. But doing this not only gives you a plan for your four years of university, it also gives you a headstart in familiarizing yourself with the many websites necessary for university. But that’s it from me! Hope this helped, and good luck with your module planning!

The 8 Libraries of NTU, 5 of which you didn’t know exist


Library, a high peer-pressure environment for mugging. Library, a sanctuary for a quiet moment. Library, a citadel for academic enlightenment. Library, a student’s second home during the exam season.

I love libraries. I don’t know about you, but I love them to bits. Everyone says they’re a nerd, and by Jove, you know you’re one when the first thing on your freshman to-do list is to find all the libraries in NTU, like me.

Some libraries in NTU can be hard to find, so here’s a complied list and some essential information and tips!

Exactly what libraries are there?

As of 2023 there are 7 libraries in NTU, namely the Art, Design & Media Library, Business Library, Chinese Library, Communication & Information Library, Humanities & Social Sciences Library, Lee Wee Nam Library and the Wang Gungwu Library. There is also the Library Outpost located at The Hive.

Click here for a comprehensive list of their locations!

  1. Art, Design & Media Library
  2. Business Library
  3. Chinese Library
  4. Communication & Information Library
  5. Humanities & Social Sciences Library
  6. Lee Wee Nam Library
  7. Library Outpost

8. Wang Gungwu Library

All libraries are closed on public holidays. Please check announcements on the Library homepage for changes in opening hours. For actual dates of semester and vacation periods, refer to NTU’s Academic Calendar.

All Libraries’ Opening Hours

Semester Period: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 9.30 pm

Saturday: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm (Communication & Information Library closes at 1:00 pm)

Sunday: Closed

Vacation Period: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 7:00 pm (Art, Design & Media Library and Communication & Information Library closes at 5:00 pm)

Saturday: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm (Closed: Art, Design & Media Library and Communication & Information Library)

Sunday: Closed

Note: Photocopying and network printing services will stop 30 minutes before the Library closes


1. Art, Design & Media Library


ADM Library holds over 11,000 volumes ranging from evolving disciplines in visual art, architecture, design, drawing, illustration, painting and photography. These volumes include reference materials, artist books, play and film production formats, exhibition catalogues, animation guidebooks, and design catalogues.

The Reserve Book Collection (RBR)

The RBR section in the ADM library houses the required reading materials for each course for ADM students. These materials are available for loan to ADM students for a maximum of two hours and must be checked out at the Loan Counter.


There are over 100 subscriptions to periodicals that cover all aspects of the school’s curriculum. Some courses are media, film, animation, design and art. All undergraduates and future postgraduates can find core materials needed for their readings.

Audio-Visual Materials (A/V)

The A/V section of the Library houses an extensive and growing collection of video cassettes, audio cassettes, VCDs, DVDs, audio CDs, and music CDs, with the exception of “restricted” and “non-circulating” A/V materials. These materials are available for faculty, graduate students, and NTU staff to borrow.

For undergraduates, they can tap on individual and group viewing facilities (such as viewing carrels and a cinema room).

Information Services, including reference services

Students are encouraged to browse its collection, ranging from reading resources or materials for research purposes.

If help is needed with the research process, students can approach the ADM Library staff.

Instructional Services

The ADM Library also provides students and faculty with instructional services that introduce them to various art-related online databases.

Library e-resources

Staff and students can access the library’s e-resources from subscribed databases, e-books, and e-journals available at the library homepage 24/7 as long as they have internet access.

There are six Library Catalogue stations and ten networked PCs for accessing e-journals, databases, and other electronic resources for students and staff for their perusal. Furthermore, there are ten individual viewing carrels with multimedia PCS where students can view A/V titles leisurely in a soundproof mini cinema room.

Students can access the Library Catalogue online or access it in the ADM library to search for books, journals, audiovisual materials, and other library resources

Printing and Photocopying: Students can access printing and photocopying services, including colour copying.

Wireless Internet

The Library is equipped with wireless access to facilitate patrons with laptops to use the online facilities and services.

The Study Area

ADM library’s study area provides large spacious tables and comfortable chairs to facilitate group work and individual study.


Open study spaces, cinema room and individual AV viewing stations.

Collections: Visual arts, architecture, drawing, design, illustration, painting, photography, and audio-visual materials.


ADM library has specially curated loanable books and references related to the visual arts. They also hold an extensive collection of comics and graphic novels.

Did you know they are one of the few libraries with A/V materials available?


The newly launched enhanced Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Bookish and Experimental Research at the Art, Design and Media Library (Liber@ADML) features edtech-ready spaces and facilities to support the School of ADM’s interdisciplinary research and innovation needs.

Configurable collaboration zones with well-being features

Equipped with different lighting presets and modular furniture, The Playground allows users to play around with the space and build the ideal classroom or collaborative workspace for teaching and learning. For the user’s well-being, the Playground has a circadian lighting system that automatically adjusts its brightness and colour temperature according to the daylight cycle. Scientifically, this allows the human body to stay connected with its natural circadian rhythm that regulates wakefulness and alertness.

AV pods

The new audio-visual pods function as a collaborative space for users to access visual media resources with an open-concept meeting room.

Student showcases

ADM students and faculty can showcase their creative works through this interactive exhibition space with a sleek window display design.

Temi the robot

Temi the robot is NTU’s first-ever Smart Library Assistant. Riding on the innovative trend, Temi’s capabilities includes wayfinding, answering frequently asked questions, and video calling a NTU Librarian.

Opening hours (Semester) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 9.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Opening hours (Vacation)
Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday: Closed

NTU School of Art, Design & Media (ART-01-03)
81 Nanyang Dr, Singapore 637458
Buses: 179,199

Drop at: Nanyang Dr – Hall 2 (27311)

2. Business Library


Facilities for Members with Special Needs

Members with disabilities can request assistance to access any of NTU’s libraries. Onsite facilities include:

  • Height-adjustable tables at Lee Wee Nam Library, Business Library and Chinese Library

The business library consists of collaborative spaces, quiet spaces, individual study rooms, and a business lounge with Bloomberg and Datastream terminals.


The library houses topics from accounting, banking, business law, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality management, international business, management, marketing and strategy.

Quiet Zones

Students in need of a pin-drop quiet environment can head to the Business Library (Level B4) to get maximum focus on their work. Do take note that discussions are not allowed in these Quiet Zones!

Individual Study Spaces (Bookable)

The Business Library has 19 rooms that students can reserve for their individual study sessions.  (14 Study Rooms and 5 Language Learning Rooms).

Opening hours (Semester) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Opening hours (Vacation) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday: Closed

50 Nanyang Avenue N2-B2b-07, Nanyang Technological University, 639798


3. Chinese Library

Facilities for Members with Special Needs

Members with disabilities can request for assistance to access any of NTU’s libraries. Onsite facilities include:

●     Height-adjustable tables at Lee Wee Nam Library, Business Library and Chinese Library


NTU’s Chinese Library houses rare thread-bound books – Kangxi Dictionary, Imperial Collection of Four and more. Do head down to find out more!


Being a Chinese Library, it covers Chinese language materials such as Chinese literature, history, philosophy, religion, linguistics, politics, economy, sociology and management science.

Quiet Zones

Students needing a quiet space and a surrounding with linguistic books can head to the Chinese Library (Reading Room) to get maximum focus on their work. Do take note that discussions are not allowed in these Quiet Zones!

Opening hours (Semester) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 9.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Opening hours (Vacation) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm


4. Communication & Information Library



This library has an archive of final-year projects by communication students. Head down to view your senior’s work!


Students can browse topics ranging from mass communication and media, information sciences, communication research, media law and ethics.

Being a 2-storey library, it is quiet during school term and you can spot many seats during the day. However, it is a fairly small library with limited book titles. But the aircon is always freezing cold, perfect for Singapore’s hot, humid days!

Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI)


5. Humanities & Social Sciences Library

Collaborative Spaces (Bookable)

To use these collaborative spaces, students would need to reserve via LibFacilities prior to use.  Accompanying equipment for each space may differ – read the description when booking on LibFacilities.

This library is much smaller than the other NTU libraries. The walkways between the shelves are narrow, making the library appear cramped. Fans of Singlit (Singapore Literature) will be pleased to learn that the library has a small Singlit collection, as well as a collection of works on Singapore’s economy, politics, and history (the ‘Singapore Collection’).

This library is a treasure to students in the Humanities field. There is a wide range of resources available for every humanities topic. However, the downside is that the study spaces are limited, with only a few small cubicles at the library’s sides.


This library has books and periodicals related to the social sciences (history, politics, linguistics) and literature (Eastern and Western, classical and modern) that are not found in other NTU libraries.

Besides academic books, students can also browse fiction and non-fiction books that are mostly in English.


6. Lee Wee Nam Library


Facilities for Members with Special Needs

Members with disabilities can request assistance to access any of NTU’s libraries. Onsite facilities include:

  • Height-adjustable tables at Lee Wee Nam Library, Business Library and Chinese Library


This is NTU’s most popular library as it has a variety of collaborative learning spaces, exhibition spaces, quiet and relaxation spaces, high-end computers, and a recording room.


 Engineering and science are the primary titles found on their shelves.


Hygge is a new space that was recently opened in  September 2022.  This is students’ most favourite relaxing and studying space, with it being a dedicated well-being space at the Quiet Zone of Lee Wee Nam Library (Level 5). Primarily designed to encourage students to wind down from academic stresses, it allows them to engage in reflection, contemplation and mental relaxation. HYGGE features the concept Fascinature, which combines elements of soft fascination and nature to facilitate mental rejuvenation.

Quiet Zones

There are allocated zones dedicated for users who need to concentrate on their work or study and are available at Lee Wee Nam Library (Level 5).  Discussions are not allowed in these Quiet Zones.

Opening hours (Semester) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 9.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Opening hours (Vacation) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
50 Nanyang Avenue, Blk NS3-03-01, 639798


7. Library Outpost



This library literally has café-style seating and lounging spaces and diverse audio-visual materials. It is definitely a different concept from other NTU libraries!


It holds audio-visual collections and Course Reserves for HSS and NBS.

A course reserve item borrowed before 7 pm must be returned within two hours or risk a hefty fine. If students borrow the material after 7 pm, they must return it by 11 am the following morning.

Opening hours (Semester) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 9.30pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Opening hours (Vacation) Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Saturday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Level 1, Hive Building


8. Wang Gungwu Library

Opening hours (Semester) •       Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
•       Saturday: Closed
Opening hours (Vacation) •       Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5.00pm
•       Saturday: Closed


Here’s one bonus library that’s truly hidden out of sight! It is contained within the Chinese Heritage Centre (CHC), it is quite dark and is mostly lit by natural light, which is understandable as most of the books there look old and thus require protection. Since it’s in an odd location, it is very quiet and very empty on most days, which makes it a good place to get some private space and time.

You’ll find books and references related to Chinese culture/tradition, literature, and research here, in both English and Chinese, as well as permanent displays of old Singaporean educational materials. Do stop by for a visit at least once!

Collaborative Spaces (Needs Booking)

The following spaces for group discussion require reservation on LibFacilities before use. Accompanying equipment for each space may differ – read the description when booking on LibFacilities.

Print your course materials

Print and photocopy your coursework at NTU’s libraries.  Depending on the libraries, the price is also different. Libraries usually charge $0.045 – $0.05/black and white page and $0.54 – $1.00/colour page for printing jobs. Photocopying cost $0.025/A4 black and white photocopy and $0.054/A4 colour page photocopy. All printing and photocopying services in libraries are paid via a sensor that deducts money from your EZ-link card or through Paylah.

For more details about what you can borrow: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/Library/membership/student/pages/privileges.aspx

You can also consult librarians at NTU. Ask them about how to find academic papers related to your research project. Ask them about the angle of your project. Basically, librarians are mentors that provide guidance if you choose to consult them.

Hope this guide was useful to navigate NTU libraries! Feel free to comment if you have any queries!