At just 26 years old, Wu Yiling hones an impressive array of skills. She speaks four languages fluently — English, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean, has work experience in a multitude of areas, and has pursued higher education in the fields of business, programming, welding technologies, and even apparel design and product development. Most recently, she graduated from DigiPen (Singapore)’s AnT Programme for Embedded Software Developer. This go-getter is not afraid to own her decisions and walk the path less travelled, as evidenced in her resume and life experiences so far.
Case in point: Though Yiling was always an academically strong student, she chose to forgo a university education after junior college and immediately started working in her family’s business, Precision Laser Solutions. In order to get up to speed, Yiling picked up engineering knowledge on the job and was sent for many short-term courses at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech). Her work as an assistant manager at Precision Laser Solutions had a varied job scope where she took on human resources duties, designed marketing materials, set up and maintained the company’s website, followed up with sales enquiries, did bookkeeping and accounting, and even dabbled in research and development for some of the company’s products. Being in the manufacturing business also meant frequent business trips as most of the production factories are based overseas. The longest stint that Yiling spent on a business trip to China was six months as she had to oversee the commissioning of 30 customized machines there. She looks back on these experiences as important milestones that helped to shape her maturity and resilience today.
During this time, Yiling also pursued a Diploma in Business Administration (Accounting & Finance) from PSB Academy, as she felt that the knowledge in accounting and general business would be applicable to the family business. While pursuing her diploma, Yiling was awarded a merit-based scholarship by PSB Academy due to her excellent grades. As part of the scholarship program, Yiling took part in an all-paid exchange program at Sejong University in South Korea for one-and-a-half semesters. She had the freedom to choose any course at the university, and after trying a few, she settled on a C programming course that was taught in English. Despite having no background in programming, Yiling found the lessons easy to follow, and she eventually graduated at the top of the class. “What I enjoy most about programming is that there are many ways to achieve the same result,” Yiling says. “Programming is like learning another language, just that it’s spoken to a computer.”
Upon returning to Singapore in early 2017, Yiling was offered a job as a business development manager at e-commerce platform Shaashop Korea. She was in charge of setting up the brand’s social media platforms, translating Korean content to English, doing market research, and meeting with potential vendors. Her stint at Shaashop lasted eight months as the company faced conflicting goals and halted their Singapore expansion plans, prompting Yiling to leave. She re-joined Precision Laser Solutions in November 2017 where she took on a new role as a project manager in her family’s business.
Yiling’s new job scope was more technical than her former role. She found herself vetting mechanical designs and drawings, developing new applications with laser and optical systems, and even using welding machinery to create automotive and other engineering parts. Additionally, Yiling put her programming knowledge to use and would do software debugging and development using the C# programming language. In order to upgrade herself further, Yiling also finished a SIMTech Graduate Diploma in Advanced Welding Technology in 2019.
After working at Precision Laser Solutions for a cumulative period of over six years, Yiling was keen to look for career growth and embark on a new challenge. That was when she came across DigiPen (Singapore)’s Attach-and-Train (AnT) Programme for Embedded Software Developer and saw it as a key opportunity to expand her horizons and acquire new skills. Yiling decided to apply without hesitation as it was rare to come across the chance to enter big multinational corporations with limited relevant experience. She was attracted to the on-the-job training opportunities at the partnering companies and got accepted into the program as a Continental Automotive Singapore trainee.
Yiling started the nine-month AnT Programme for Embedded Software Developer in January 2020. She enjoyed herself despite the gruelling nature of the program, and she credits her lecturers and classmates for her positive experience. “Due to the course syllabus being taught at a very fast pace, the entire class bonded well as we learned together and supported one another. Our lecturers were always helpful and friendly as well, and I appreciated their effort — together with the admin staff — who helped to ensure that our lessons could continue virtually during the Circuit Breaker period,” Yiling says.
After her on-the-job training at Continental Automotive Singapore, Yiling was offered a full-time position with the company as a software engineer, which she accepted. Continental Automotive Singapore has adopted the AGILE framework to increase productivity and Yiling is currently the Scrum Master in her team. She helps to ensure that the progress of her team is aligned with the product owner with regard to goals. She also develops code updates when needed.
Looking back on her experience, Yiling encourages anyone who is considering a career switch through future DigiPen (Singapore) AnT Programmes to take the plunge, even if it means stepping out of their comfort zones. “The course may be tough for those who have little background knowledge in the subject areas, but it’s definitely doable and worth it in the end,” Yiling adds. “Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help from your peers and instructors.”