Alumni Alumni Stories The Proactive Approach to Lifelong Learning

The Proactive Approach to Lifelong Learning

The Proactive Approach to Lifelong Learning

Get to know Teh Hui Min Rae, an alumna of James Cook University, Singapore, who graduated with a Master of Psychological Science (Majoring in Business Psychology), as she emphasizes the significance of proactive learning.


Tell us a bit about what you currently do for a living.

I recently started a year-long graduate program as a Graduate Designer in a strategic design consultancy. My work mainly focuses on doing research on human experiences according to the goals of our clients. This includes designing and facilitating interviews and focus group discussions to listen to and understand people’s real-life experiences and challenges. Doing this aids us in generating useful insights and recommendations that would help paint a clearer picture of our client's next steps in their initiatives. I am also involved in designing and facilitating workshops that include interactive activities and guided discussions to help our clients better achieve their objectives. The work we do focuses on complex problem solving with a human-centric approach and emphasises philosophical values. We often work with public, private and non-profit sectors on complex designs and human experiences in industries ranging from health to education, energy, economic regulation, social welfare, and more.

What is your favourite part of the role?

My favourite part of the job is how exciting and different every situation is. It’s exciting to learn about clients, their purposes/objectives, and be a part of that journey of making those a reality. You will always encounter something new – new people, new industries, new challenges, and new opportunities.

What are your aspirations for this role?

Being new to the industry and the job, I hope to be able to build my own identity as a professional. I would like to further explore my interests and strengths, and how I can integrate them into the work I do. I hope to be able to confidently introduce myself and the work that I’ve done, as well as the future achievements I am looking forward to.

Have you faced any challenges in your role? How have you managed to overcome them?

Transitioning into an industry where I have little background in and understanding of has been a huge challenge of trying to navigate how I fit in and what I can contribute. It’s been challenging to learn everything from scratch again and I’ve definitely felt uncertain of myself many times.

To deal with this, I try to be open and honest with myself – admitting to what I don’t know and reaching out to those around me for support. I’ve been taking this time to be more patient with myself and focusing on learning and absorbing rather than doing things well.

But I like to see this as a new opportunity as well. While my background doesn’t fully align with the work I’m currently doing, the skills and knowledge I’ve gained can also be seen as an added advantage that allows me to contribute a unique and fresh perspective.

What is the proudest thing you have accomplished in your job so far?

Personally, my proudest achievement so far is starting to feel a sense of belonging and accountability. Things like finally understanding the context and terminologies mentioned during team meetings and discussions have been a highlight for me. I felt myself slowly becoming more certain of why I am where I am now, and I can confidently contribute my perspectives and feedback in conversations. Although it’s nothing major, I still believe it’s worth celebrating these small achievements. Such achievements are small foundation blocks that build up to the greater achievements awaiting me and will keep me going throughout the rest of my new journey in this team and industry.

How has studying at James Cook University (JCU) in Singapore prepared you for life after graduation?

During my time at JCU, I truly felt like I had a voice. The faculty and professors were keen on understanding their students' experiences and were always open to understanding how they could improve and enhance our experiences. This was something I truly appreciated as I felt that my thoughts, even just as a student, were valued. It encouraged me to speak up often, engage in conversations even if it made me uncomfortable, and also listen to and speak up for those around me. I believe this value has become a critical foundation for who I am, both personally and professionally.


What were some of the highlights from your time at JCU?

Many of the highlights from my time at JCU can be summarised as having the right kind of people around me. Everyone I’ve met in JCU has, in some way or the other, made a meaningful impact to who I am and aspire to become in both my personal and professional life. I’ve gotten to learn so much about my friends and lecturers’ experiences, which has opened my eyes to new cultures and ways of thinking. It’s also challenged me to try things outside of my usual comfort zone. Such opportunities have made my time at JCU not just exciting, but also an important part of my growth.

Do you have a message for your lecturers at JCU?

Being a lecturer is never an easy job. I hope that in spite of all the challenges and hardships they’ve encountered throughout their journeys as educators, they feel a sense of achievement with the bright opportunities they have contributed to. I hope I was able to be a part of their sense of achievement, and that they can see how they have played a significant role to the person I am now and will be in the future. And I hope that they continue to feel passionate about what they are doing and remember to take a break to celebrate themselves too!

Do you have any advice for current students?

The most important lesson I’ve learned during my time as a student is to always be proactive in learning. Actively reach out to your lecturers and peers if you are struggling with something, or even if you have an interest you would like to delve into further. Be proactive about learning about others, about who they are, their backgrounds/cultures, and what has brought them here. Also, be proactive about learning who you are – explore activities and initiative even if you are not confident, have no experience or even if you are afraid. By continuously learning, you will be sure to realise potentials you never even thought existed before.