Eye-Opening Internship with BASF: Maxine Tam

11 November 2014

There has to be more to life. This is the philosophy that guided Maxine Tam to do her Masters after a few years in the workforce.

Maxine previously completed her undergraduate studies on Life Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Yearning for more and for something unique, Maxine chanced upon the joint TUM-NUS Master of Science in Industrial Chemistry while searching for a postgraduate degree.

Fast forward 2 years, Maxine is now into her last semester at TUM Asia, completing her mandatory Internship and Master Thesis as the culmination of her postgraduate journey draws near. We catch up with Maxine to find out more about her internship experience at BASF Global Research Centre, Singapore – BASF is the world’s largest and most well-known chemical company.

Hi Maxine, how has your internship been so far?

It has been very exciting! The company culture is excellent and there is a strong focus on work-life balance. The people here in BASF are very nurturing and it feels like everyone is part of one big family.

That’s great! How did you choose this particular internship among the various choices you had?

After attending the Water Chemistry module, I developed an interest in this area. When I found out there was a project involving water filtration membranes, I applied for it even though I did not have much prior experience in this field. I was happy to get the position and then to grow to enjoy it was a major bonus! This is a classic example of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. I’m happy I did it and that BASF gave me the chance to try something new.

Now that you have been with BASF for a few months, can you highlight an experience that you really enjoyed?

BASF has a “red-carpet” event every few months to welcome the new hires and interns to the company. Through this event I got the chance to interact with people from other departments and fields, and got to visit one of BASF Singapore’s production facilities. I thought this was a fantastic way to get everyone in this huge organization to know one another.

Looking back on your journey with TUM Asia, how would you describe it?

I’m happy for the opportunities that the course has given me. This programme stood out among other Masters programmes I saw because it offers courses about the various business functions in a chemical company. Previously in my undergraduate degree programme the focus was mainly on research, but this programme showed that there was more to a company than just research alone.  This unique course structure was what attracted me most to this interesting programme. To then be able to try out something different during my internship also highlights the flexibility of the course.

Now that you will be concluding your studies soon, how do you think the internship will benefit you?

It has given me a glimpse of how a chemical company is run and it has brought to life many of the concepts we have learned from the courses in the last 10 months (e.g marketing, financial accounting, materials science, water chemistry).

Any advice for your juniors who will soon be looking for internships?

My advice for the juniors is to keep an open mind when looking for internships and not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – who knows, you may actually grow to enjoy the project!

Photo: Maxine in her lab at BASF Global Research Centre, Singapore

Photo: Maxine in her lab at BASF Global Research Centre, Singapore

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