Lim Zi Jian represented PolicyPal at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris, France, in June. He taught conference attendees how to purchase insurance through the application itself. PHOTO COURTESY OF: LIM ZI JIAN
While his peers began their third year as undergraduates at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in August, Lim Zi Jian (CS'19) headed to New York for a gap year.
“School should not be just about studying, but also putting concepts into action,” said the 24-year-old, who clinched an internship in Manhattan with Nanyang Technological University’s Overseas Entrepreneurship Programme.
Lim is the first student from WKWSCI to embark on the OEP, and part of the pioneer batch to New York City. To date, 42 students have embarked on the programme with top destinations being China and the United States.
Lim is currently interning at an agriculture startup that won first place in a startup accelerator competition organised by the University of California, Berkeley last year. The startup, which declined to be named as it has yet to launch, received USD$5,000 in seed funding from the university and is building on products based on Japan’s vertical indoor farming technology that will allow sustainable food production.
Working at the one-year-old startup has been an eye-opener, he said, adding that it only has a staff of four. “It is all hands on deck.” As a marketing intern, he oversees designing the website and fruit packaging.
“Ultimately, I aim high and even if I don’t make it,
it’s still a good learning experience.”
Lim Zi Jian
“I also do graphic design and any other ad hoc tasks. I am currently helping with the construction of the farming facility,” he said.
Lim is no stranger to startups. During his time as a student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, he interned for four months at Fresh Direct Pte. Ltd., a vegetable distribution company. He realised quickly that the best lessons were learnt in the workplace.
This encouraged him to take on two internships during his first two years at WKWSCI.
His first stint was at Snapask — a platform for students to upload their questions about schoolwork and have them answered by tutors — as a digital marketer from January to June in 2016. He handled content marketing targeted at primary and secondary school students as well as their parents.
His recent internship from May to August this year was at PolicyPal, a startup that offers an application that helps users manage their insurance policies. There, he oversaw digital marketing and assisted with User Interface and User Experience Design for the company’s website. As part of his internship, he also represented PolicyPal in a presentation at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris in June.
Participants included technology giants like Google and Facebook. Lim also got to interact with potential investors and executives.
His first brush with entrepreneurship was during his first year in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Along with two other friends, Lim started a T-shirt business targeted at his fellow schoolmates, with more than 5,000 T-shirts sold in the span of three years. "All 5,000 transactions were made over just a single table I set up on campus," he quipped. He added that a part of the proceeds went towards purchasing necessities for the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home.
Like every budding entrepreneur, Lim has big dreams, he said. One of them is exiting a startup by the time he turns 30 years old. When asked if he felt it might be too ambitious, he laughed and said: “Failure is also a form of exit.
“But right now, I think I’m heading in the right direction with my internships. With this goal, it forces me to come up with an action plan to work towards it. Ultimately, I aim high and even if I don’t make it, it’s still a good learning experience.”