Reflection of my journey with ES2007S

The last semester of my college life, as well as my journey with ES2007S, have come to the end. It is time for a reflection.

Aiming to learn the proper way of communication at workplace and to learn the job application skills, I started my journal with ES2007S.
In the three months time, I got exposed to the various areas of effective communication: active listening skills, nonverbal communication skills, 7Cs in writing, formal documents writing skills, coverletter & resume writing skills, interview skills, etc. I get to know more about the culture of Singapore as well as other countries.
Of course, the part of journey I enjoyed most was the project with Ethel and Bernard. Being the group set up much later than others, we really put in our effort to catch up with other groups. We conquered various difficulties through the way and managed to do the oral presentation at the same time as other groups. Through the project, we got hand-on practice of scientific research, business paper writing and effective communication. I got a better understanding of how to communicate effectively after the project.

I've learned how to write a job application letter and resume, which is the first and very important step in the job application process. Another very important step in getting a job is the interview. Therefore, I look forward to the mock interview in the coming week, which I believe will be very important for us to learn how to deal with the real interviews. The job market this year is not as good as previous years, but with the gear of the skills we get through ES2007S, I believe we can all get a job!

My journey with ES2007s is going to end in one week's time, but my journey with professional communication will never end.


My Biodata

Feng Lu is going to finish her college education with an honors degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering in May 2009. Ever since she came to Singapore for undergraduate education on the Ministry of Education Scholarship, her high adaptability and friendliness have helped her in excelling academically and personally. She interacted with people from all around the world and experience different culture.

She has developed her interpersonal skills via various Co-curriculum activities. She was the executive for NUS rondalla orchestra and Chinese Drama Society. She was later elected as the NUS Student Ambassador, representing NUS to host visiting corporations, education institutes as well as scholars. Through the activities, she interacted and cooperated with people from dynamic backgrounds and developed the skills of negotiation and collaboration.

During the four years time she managed to perform well in her academic field, and was once placed on the Dean's list for scoring top 5% among her peers. She did not constrain herself to her major courses, she has also explored widely beyond. She has been learning Japanese language for two years and can now communicate with Native Japanese speakers efficiently

On top of her courses in Industrial & Systems Engineering, she took up two internships to get hand on experience in the related field. Her internship as a system integrator at A*STAR Data Storage Institute has helped her to get to know the essence of system engineering. Her internship as Operations Analyst at Caterpillar has enabled her ability to apply the logistics knowledge she learned in class into real logistics industry.


To be, or not to be?

Before we can apply the Professional Communication skills we learnt in ES2007S, we have to secure a job first. The job search process is the bridge connecting our ES2007S course and the actual practice of professional communication.
Increasing number of companies has employed the SHL tests to test the applicant’s numerical analysis and verbal communication skills. In addition, there are also personality tests to test whether the applicant’s personality fits the company’s culture. Although, these tests have made the job application process even more complicated and troublesome, it helps the company to sieve out the perfect candidate for the job.
Regarding the personality tests, it raises a question: “Should we answer the questions according to our real thought or should we answer it according to the company’s requirement?”
If we answer it according to our real thought, there is a risk that our personality does not match the company’s requirement and we will fail the personality test and lose the job.
To get short listed, we can answer the test in a manner to suit the company’s interest. The repercussion behind this is that after we join the company we may suffer conflicts between our own personality and the working culture.
The same question applies to the interview process, should we just be ourselves or should we pretend to be someone else in order to get the job?


intercultural communication

Here is what an American experienced on his first business trip to Tokyo:
When he first met the Japanese counterpart, a beautiful young lady, out of business etiquette the American initiated a handshake after self introduction. But his gentle manner was turned down by a 90 degree bow made by the Japanese lady. He felt embarrassed being left there standing alone with a hand waving in the air. But quickly he realized that actually the Japanese lady is bowing to show her respect to him. “While in Rome do as Rome does” as he thought, he bowed to the Japanese lady in return. But this time he found himself even weirder: his attempt to keep eye contact with the Japanese lady made him bowing down with his face up. In addition, he was unsure how long he should keep his head down.

Although it was awkward at the start, they got along well on the project. Then went it was time for lunch! He was being brought to a famous ramen restaurant by his Japanese colleagues. He was shocked by the loud noise all the Japanese people were making when eating ramen. Being not used to chopsticks, he used a fork to eat the noodles and tried making some noise.

Then he realized there were people staring at him, which made him felt uncomfortable. “Did I get anything on my face?” he wondered. However, there was nothing on his face just that he was eating too quietly. Although making noise while eating is considered rude in the US. In Japan making loud noise when eating ramen is a way to show their appreciation to the chef and to deliver the message that the noodles are savory. Our American friend’s trying to be polite turned out to be just impolite in this eastern country.

Therefore in order to communicate effectively with people from a different culture. It is necessary to learn each other’s culture norm and etiquette, and follow the local practice.


#3 Business letter review

Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you very much for your support to XXXX.com.

With reference to your inquiry dated Oct 24, 2008, we would like to inform you that according to the ordering record of your order 5186818, a refund in the amount of US$14.99 in terms of XXX Credit is under process for your next or future shopping at XXXX.com. Usually, the refund process will be completed in 1 – 2 business days. Once the refund process is completed, we will immediately notify you by sending you the respective refund confirmation.

We would like to have your kind understanding that our official settlement currency is in US Dollar and therefore, if you would like to have a refund via your credit card account, we will only be able to arrange such a refund in US Dollar too. Under such a situation, loss arising from exchange rate difference, for which we are not responsible, is possible. In order to avoid such a possible loss, we usually make XXX Credit as a defaulted refund media so that customers will be able to have a "real full refund". Of course, if this possible loss is not your concern, we are glad to arrange refund through your credit card account. Please kindly confirm if you would like to have the refund through your credit card account so that we can arrange for you accordingly. However, we would like to have your kind attention that the processing time for credit card will be longer than 1 – 2 business days as we have to arrange such refund with your credit card issuing bank via our payment gateway. Please do not reply to this email directly. Should you have any further inquiry, please kindly refer to our Customer Support Section at
Best regards,
Daniel Keung
Customer Service Department

This is an email I received from an online shopping website replying to my enquiry (on whether they can refund directly to my credit card account instead of refund me XXX Credit which can only be used for further purchase from their website).

The letter seems to be courteous, as expressions such as “Dear Valued Customer” or “We would like to seek your kind understanding that…” have been used. But I feel it would have been more courteous if this customer service officer had addressed my name instead of “Dear Valued Customer”. Since I had been asked to fill in my full name when writing to them, I would expect all the other customer service officers to be able to address me by my name in their reply.

This letter meets the criteria of correctness, as it replied to my enquiry directly. In addition, this customer service officer also stated clearly which enquiries that he is replying to, (With reference to your inquiry dated Oct 24, 2008) which makes the reply professional and sharp. Furthermore, I think the reply contains concreteness and clarity with all the reasonable detailed explanation given for why they prefer to refund in term of XXX credit.

With the brief mentioning of the current situation at the beginning of the letter with follow up actions and the further explanation of possible delay that may occur if direct refund is chosen, I feel that coherence and completeness are fulfilled.

Since there is no redundant information in the body of the letter, the concise criteria is also met. But I think it would be clearer if the exquisite of further action can be written as the paragraph following the comparison of the two ways of refund.


Blog #2 Interpersonal Relationships

Fiona has two close friends named Liza and Sally. All of them are final year students from NUS. They are of 3 different characters. Fiona is optimistic, trustworthy and confident. While, Liza is hardworking but pessimistic and has weak self discipline. Lastly, Sally is committed, realistic and lack of self confidence.

Then every time when Sally feels lonely, she will go to Fiona’s dormitory and watch television drama with her. As they have different timetable, Fiona needs to go to bed early due to 8am classes, while Sally sleeps late most of the time. So when Sally drops by, Fiona will sacrifice some of her sleeping time to accompany her. While watching the TV, Sally provides latest news to Fiona, like which friend of theirs got employed even before they graduate.

Meanwhile, Liza is always vexed about her daily affairs. Thus she also turns to Fiona for help and counseling. At first Fiona thinks that she can handle her friendships well, but lately she realizes that she is mentally drained and begins to fall asleep in classes. In addition, as Fiona is still unemployed due to the bad economy, she started to lose her self confidence and become pessimistic. Life to her seems to be tougher than ever.

What should Fiona do now?


Why ES2007S

Being a foreign student whose first language is not English, I realized that before I join the working force, it is necessary for me to study the art of professional communication as the language used in the job market is English.

In my opinion, although every company has its own culture, yet the style of communication and words used while working are generally different from what we use in school. Therefore it would be beneficial if I know how to communicate properly before I start work. Written communication and oral communication are both very important. For example, to make an announcement, which words should I use and in which way should I make the announcement? Besides written and oral communication, the non verbal way of conveying a message such as body language and facial expression, requires special attention too. For example, when talking to my superior, is there any gesture that should be avoided?

However, before I can apply professional communication, I need get myself employed. Given today’s economic situation, the competition for getting a job seems to be tougher than before. Therefore, hopefully by the end of this semester, after attending ES2007S, I will be able to equip myself with effective communication skills and write a resume which is essential in the competitive working environment.