Internship the Swede way
Sharon (1st row, most right), with fellow NUS Overseas Colleges programme participants
Since August last year, Year 3 Pharmacy major Sharon YEO Mei Ching embarked on a year-long NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme in Stockholm, where she interns at Swedish medical technology company Byon8, while taking entrepreneurial modules at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Her overseas experience is nothing short of exciting. As part of a small team in a startup, Sharon’s job scope is multi-layered. She undertakes market research, digital and events marketing, as well as human resources and business development support.
“I get to work with a unique diversity of colleagues from more than 10 countries and various disciplines,” she shared.
As the startup’s first hire with a pharmacy background, Sharon is also involved in the development of Byon8’s flagship software product AITOPYA, a diagnostics support software that aims to empower healthcare professionals and patients by shortening waiting time, improving workflow efficiency and enhancing understanding of treatment plans.
She added, “My pharmacotherapeutics studies are useful in developing a feature that can help healthcare professionals and patients quickly and correctly understand medication treatments for various diseases on AITOPYA’s user interface.”
Through her work at Byon8, Sharon also picked up entrepreneurial concepts. She learnt to conceptualise business ideas, and to iterate and execute them. She also realised the importance of investing time in building teamwork capabilities and creating a company culture as the company scales up.
The internship at Byon8 also empowered her as an individual.
She said, “I gained confidence in representing a company and approaching external parties. My CEO and co-workers do not treat me like an intern, which works great wonders on my confidence, to voice out suggestions that I believe can add value to the company.”
Sharon (1st row, second from left), with her co-workers at Byon8
At KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sharon learns from Swedish professors and interacts with international students through business ideation projects and thought-provoking discussions. She had the opportunity to participate in OpenHack Stockholm, a hackathon with challenge statements on humanitarian issues.
While adapting to the local culture and lifestyle was initially challenging, the support from her colleagues and friends helped her to settle in and begin to make her footprint in Sweden.
She said, “As Swedish culture is very different, the cultural exchange is a great learning experience. For instance, Swedes practice ‘lagom’, which means ‘everything in moderation’ – their ability to strike work-life balance while excelling on the international stage is awe-inspiring.”
On top of work and school, Sharon is starting to volunteer with a non-profit organisation that has a “befriending” programme with youth refugees. She also got to experience Swedish traditions such as “Crayfish Party” and “fika time” (coffee break) with kanebulle (Swedish cinnamon rolls)!
She said, “The NOC programme is giving me a headstart in being able to shape well-organised solutions to solve complex questions in healthcare through innovations. I am continuously gaining knowledge and insights about new digital products and concepts in the healthcare entrepreneurial scene.”