This article is the first of a two-part feature documenting tertiary students who found jobs at inclusive companies through SG Enable’s Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) Internship Programme and RISE Mentorship Programme. In this article, we learn about Eugene Chua Ming Xuan’s exemplary attitude during his internship at Prudential, and how his colleagues are ever ready to lend him a hand.

A bespectacled man on a motorised wheelchair in front of a Prudential-branded wall smiles for the camera.

A stepping stone

Every day, Eugene religiously leaves the house before the sun rises, reaching his office at 7:30am—way ahead of his 8:30am reporting time.

“I leave my home early, because I know that in the morning, if I’m later, there’ll be a big crowd… I also try not to [work overtime], because OT equals to a big crowd.”

Travelling on a mobility device means having to structure his travel times to avoid the masses of peak-hour commuters, but Eugene willingly forgoes that extra hour of sleep for his own convenience.

Eugene, who has cerebral palsy, came on board SG Enable’s Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) Internship Programme, which matches tertiary students with disabilities to internship opportunities in inclusive companies. He secured a 6-month internship with Prudential and was eventually hired as a full-time contract associate, processing contracts and working with data.

Having studied banking services at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Eugene found the internship to be a “good and fruitful experience” where he managed to apply what he learnt in class to his work. Prudential has a positive and encouraging environment and that gives him the motivation to go work too, he said.

An inclusive environment

When Eugene first joined as an intern, his colleagues were willing to answer any queries he had, and eased him into his job by emphasising the key things to take note of. The management was very supportive and encouraging, with the Human Resource team holding catch-up sessions every now and then to check in on how he was doing.

Prudential’s office building has various accessibility features, such as wheelchair-accessible toilets and a wider entry gate for people using mobility devices. Eugene’s seat is also near his locker, the photocopy machine and the pantry, allowing for greater ease of access.

A heart-warming experience

During the two-day orientation for new hires, one of the activities was a community event to accompany senior citizens at the National Museum. However, Eugene was instantly plagued with accessibility concerns for this seemingly straightforward event: how was he to travel there from the office? How accessible was the venue itself? He had even gone to the extent of excusing himself from the activity, but on the day itself, he changed his mind.

While the group initially planned to take a private hire vehicle to the National Museum, they were unable to find one that could transport Eugene’s mobility device. So Eugene’s colleagues accompanied him on a wheelchair-friendly bus there instead of travelling separately – “one of the best things [he] could have asked for”.

After the event, one of Eugene’s colleagues readily offered to share a private hire vehicle home with him upon finding out they lived in the same area, while others stayed around to help him get his mobility device into the vehicle. Eugene was extremely heartened at how his colleagues “really [helped him] out of goodwill”, this being an incident that has vividly stayed with him since.

Striving for excellence

Eugene assumes great responsibility in handling data, wanting to be “as accurate as possible” in his work. Now, as a full-time employee, he recognises that there are higher expectations of him alongside a wider job scope, and takes on these challenges as a means for learning and growth.

One of his biggest learning points was that any doubts should be clarified straight away, instead of passively expecting an answer, or going ahead with the task first and doing it wrongly.

Eugene’s keen interest for learning has pushed him to constantly improve himself. He is considering taking additional certifications in insurance, or going back to school to further his education.

“My aim is to inspire other ITE students. If I can do it, so can others.”