Living & Working in Paradise

Cruising through the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, and this is just one of the perks of working on a paradise.

Niew Hong Cheng Aaron is spending 24 weeks with his feet in the sand, hearing sound of relaxing waves, and a scenic view of the sea behind him. What better way to spend six months working, than at a relaxing beach resort with expansive views of the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. The final-year student from Diploma in Hotel & Hospitality Management (DHHM) is currently staying in Phuket for six months, where he is interning at The Boathouse Phuket as part of his OIIP.


Aaron is one of the selected students that have the opportunity to embark on this overseas educational journey as part of RP’s Student Overseas Travel (SOT) Initiative. Students get to take on a holistic experience and apply their academic learning through such programmes. One of such programme is the Overseas Industry Immersion Programme (OIIP) where students, such as Aaron, interns at international companies to gain a global perspective and understanding.

We got the opportunity to chat with Aaron, as he shared with us his time at The Boathouse Phuket as a Front Office Intern, and shares his journey thus far.

“I am very thankful for the skillsets that Republic Polytechnic (RP) has prepared us with. Not only did RP impart theoretical knowledge to us, but more importantly, we gain practical skills which come in handy in the working industry. Having the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone to a whole new unfamiliar environment has enabled me to be more independent and street-smart.

Coming from an average family background, I haven’t had many chances to travel abroad because I have been working part-time jobs to support my family since I was 14. Hence, my main reason for joining OIIP was to venture abroad and see the world, experience different cultures, meet new people, pick up new skills and expand my networks. I know that through this OIIP, I can further improve myself for the future and pave a better path for myself and my family.


On his rest days, Aaron explores the island, visiting many scenic spots around Phuket
My experience in Phuket has broadened my horizons which I firmly believe would have been very different if I were to have my internship in Singapore. Every day is a new interesting encounter, as I meet people of different ages, and from all sorts of countries and backgrounds. At the end of the day, I find myself building a connection with my guests. Along the way, I have made many friends from all over the world and even picked up a new language! I am proud to say that I can now hold a conversation with basic Thai!
Niew Hong Cheng Aaron
Diploma in Hotel & Hospitality Management (DHHM)
A 1.5km long paradise with white sands, clear seas, tropical trees and endless activities – The Kata beach is just one of the many places that Aaron gets to explore at Phuket!

In the hospitality industry, I feel that it is all about showing hospitality and building connections. Putting a smile on all my guests and ensuring that I greet them with a warm smile, regardless of a good or bad day that I may be having, is my goal, and also the approach I am taking during this  internship. That is the kind of professionalism that a hotelier should display and also something I am pursuing to achieve. Sometimes it is just about doing that little something and showing that you care. By putting in that small extra effort, people (especially the guests) can feel my sincerity and they  appreciate it.”


RP supports the holistic education of our students. Students who are interested in going for OIIP and require financial assistance can apply for a subsidy under RP's Overseas Internship Fund and Enterprise Singapore's Young Talent Programme. Aaron was one of the many that received such financial support.

“There was a couple of considerations when I am deciding whether to apply for OIIP. This includes, the cost to travel overseas, having to be away from my brother and mother for 24 weeks and learning to be independent alone in a foreign country without knowing how to speak their main language.

The high cost has always been a big factor for me when it comes to travelling overseas. RP has supported me financially via Overseas Internship Fund and Young Talent Programme. This has played a big role in my decisionmaking as it helped to ease my family’s financial situation which was my biggest concern.”


Additionally, Aaron chanced upon a couple, Derek Ng and Camilia Toh, who happened to be RP School of Engineering (SEG) alumni! The alumni couple who graduated in 2010, visited The Boathouse Phuket for their vacation where they were shown excellent hospitality and services beyond their expectations by Aaron. They discovered that they were all connected to RP through their interactions! Having travelled to many countries around the world, the alumni couple even wrote in to compliment Aaron for providing excellent service that made their stay an even more pleasant one.


“To all those wondering if you should try OIIP, here’s my thought: “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives”. Now is the best time to take risks and step out of your comfort zone! So just take the leap of faith and when you finally look back, you will realize how far you have gone and how much you have grown.”