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The SAL Fintech Internship: Meet the Interns!

Matthew and You Kang sitting on steps at office pantry

On May 22nd 2017, Silverlake Axis welcomed its first batch of interns for the Silverlake Axis Fintech Internship. This program was conceptualized as part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s push to strengthen fintech in the country by involving tertiary students from local institutions. Hired under Merimen’s umbrella, our featured interns Matthew and You Kang are working on some of the company’s newest initiatives while assisting with current projects. Matthew is collaborating with David Moeller (data insights consultant) and You Kang is working with Sebastian Tan (business manager). Get to know them below!

Me: Hi guys, welcome to the team! I want to start by asking the both of you some questions about your universities and interests. What are you studying in uni and why did you choose your course?
Matthew: Thanks for having us. I am currently a Year 2 (going Year 3 in a few months) student in NUS Business School. Haven’t actually chosen my specialization yet, but I am probably going to specialize in Finance and/or Operations & Supply Chain Management. I ended up in Business mainly because I wanted to try something new, after taking Math and Science subjects for so many years in my life. Business appealed to me as a dynamic course, though some people might term it as “general”.

Me: Ah I see. You Kang, what about you?
You Kang: I’m studying Accountancy in Singapore Management University (SMU), and I’m year 3 going to year 4. I chose this course in particular because it’s project intensive and more interactive. I wanted to pursue a technical course and to learn something I would not have typically picked up myself. You need qualifications to be an accountant and there are standards to adhere to.
Matthew and You Kang at office workstation
You Kang (Left) and Matthew at their workstation
Me: Sounds like the both of you put a lot of thought into this. How about outside of school? What are some of your hobbies and passions?
Matthew: I like to play sports, mainly basketball and sometimes badminton. I exercise as regularly as I could to maintain my fitness too. I’ve liked sports since I was a kid and try to remain active overall.

You Kang: I enjoy dancing because it is a nice intersection between arts and sports. I think it really helps with self-expression and there’s always room to improve. I also like reading non-fiction and watching educational videos (eg. science, political news, etc.) on Youtube.

Me: Seems like the both of you have pretty clear ideas on what your interests are overall. In that case, why did you decide to apply for Silverlake Axis’ internship?
Matthew: During the internship application period, I decided that I wanted to try out data analytics. This internship appealed to me as a well-structured program that seeks to utilize the interns in a meaningful way and maximize their learning. It was also exciting to know that I could work on a new business project.

You Kang: I heard about the internship on Glints (Silverlake Axis’ intern recruitment partner), and I think Fintech is a new and exciting industry. I’m interested in the potential that technology has to change our lives. For example, I do a lot of reading on blockchain (smart contracts in particular), machine learning, and automation.

Me: That sounds fascinating. I’m sure the both of you received other internship offers. Why did you end up choosing to come here?
You Kang: I wanted to try something different from my field of study. There was an opportunity to work in insurance and I’ve always thought that insurance is something very important that’s often ignored. I wanted to learn more about it.

Matthew: I thought the program here was just more interesting than the other offer I got. The project I’m working on is more exploratory since we are still in the early stages and I get to work with predictive analytics.
Matthew and You Kang sitting at office pantry with laptop
Having a light moment at the pantry
Me: Well I think you both made a good choice, but I may be biased! So what are you both currently working on?
Matthew: I’m doing a lot of R coding and data cleaning. As I said before we do a lot of exploration to figure out what the data is telling us, and there’s a machine learning aspect to it. My project involves creating a useful model that helps insurers detect fraud effectively. So far I’ve worked on certain models and analyses, but the results haven’t been very useful in helping us achieve our objectives yet. It has only been two weeks, so I am sure that with more time, better results will show.

Me: That sounds really technical. You Kang, how about on your end?
You Kang: My scope is more research heavy, and I’m currently looking into the impacts of autonomous vehicles on insurance, doing market research on Taiwan and Korea, and reading about data analytics use cases on the retail value chain. We’re trying to see how to best position Merimen’s product.

Me: You guys sound like you’re being kept really busy. What are your thoughts on the program so far?
Matthew: I think it has been great so far. The fact that I have a project to work on gives me a sense of purpose every day. My colleagues here have been very friendly and gave me good career advice too. David is very collaborative and I feel like my opinions are respected and helpful to the team.

You Kang: Yeah same here. There are definitely lots of things to do and learn and my supervisor is very helpful and supportive. Sebastian reviews with me every 2-3 days to make sure I’m going in the right direction. I think the work is really interesting. I even got to do a market research presentation on Australia to Merimen’s CEO in my first week.
You Kang showing Matthew work on laptop
And it’s back to work for now
Me: I’m really glad to hear that! What about challenges? Anything stumping you so far?
You Kang: I’d say that the workload can get pretty heavy, so time management and prioritization is important. Finding the relevant data or information can also be quite difficult.

Matthew: For me, this is the first time I got to work on raw, realistic data, which is a lot messier and dirtier than I expected. I remember on my first day here, I couldn’t even import the data properly. The quality of data is probably the biggest problem right now.

Me: Hopefully things get better as time goes along. Finally, what do you expect to achieve at the end of this internship?
You Kang: I hope to be able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to other parts of my life, like using my research skills for schoolwork. I also want to improve my soft skills (eg. interacting with other professionals, presentations, etc.) and transfer them to my future jobs.

Matthew: I agree with You Kang. I’m hoping that having a positive experience here will help me assimilate into the working world in the future. Workwise, I hope that a prototype of an employable and reliable tool/model could be created by the end of this internship.

Me: Thanks so much for talking to me! I hope the both of you achieve your goals and this continues to be a fruitful internship.

Stay tuned to the blog to read about the interns’ journey in Silverlake Axis. We’ll be catching up with them in a few weeks! For more information about the Silverlake Axis Fintech Internship, visit http://internship.silverlakeaxis.com