Connecting the dots

Mr Ajinkya Chougule (above) is truly a Renaissance man, majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and minoring in Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS).

The 25-year-old recipient of the Yale-NUS College Global Leaders Scholarship is part of the second graduating cohort of Yale-NUS College, the first liberal arts and sciences college in Singapore.

His study of PPE and MCS, as well as his overseas experiences during university, broadened his perspectives and allowed him to make connections between seemingly disparate areas of study.

“During my time in university, fields like data science really began to come into their own,” he says. “In the future, I hope to be able to find a way to work across the fields of economics and data science.”

Mr Chougule received the scholarship, offered by Yale-NUS, upon his admission to the college. All incoming students are automatically considered for it.

The scholarship covered tuition and residential fees, provided an annual living allowance, a onetime computer allowance and an overseas student exchange programme fund. The latter funded a semester study abroad programme that he did at Yale University in the United States in 2016.

There, he took classes in politics and economics, and modules such as Distributive Justice Through an Economic Lens, and Terrorism in Contemporary Times.

Exploring different subjects

With the financial backing of the scholarship, Mr Chougule was able to explore his academic interests and career choices more widely without having to worry about whether the classes would be “practical” for the future.

These courses often led him to discover unexpected connections between different subjects.

For instance, in his third year, he took an anthropology class that studied different methods of information dissemination by the state from ancient times to the present. At the same time, he was studying China’s imperial history in another class. He was thrilled when he started forming connections between them — seeing how insights in one class could be applied to the other, and vice versa.

In his final-year PPE capstone project, Mr Chougule used not only his economics knowledge but also his programming skills to craft a research paper on public housing prices during election periods. He used statistical programming skills to process his dataset in order to analyse resale housing transactions in Singapore.

Choosing a path

His semester abroad gave him exposure to other cultures, broadening his perspectives and allowing him to fit in better at the summer internship he did that year with Goldman Sachs in Singapore, where he analysed economic policies.

With such a variety of academic and overseas experience, Mr Chougule found it difficult to decide on a career after graduation.

To help him decide, he did multiple internships in both the public and the private sectors — at the Civil Service College in 2014, Dow Jones in 2016 and Goldman Sachs in last year.

He was also proactive in building his network, speaking both to his school’s career counsellors and people working in various industries to gain a better idea of which jobs would be suitable for him.

His efforts paid off. His internship with Goldman Sachs gave him insight into the investment banking industry and also led to a full-time job offer.

He joined it as a full-time analyst in the sovereign and economic risk group after he graduated in May this year.

In the future, I hope to be able to find a way to work across the fields of economics and data science. MR AJINKYA CHOUGULE analyst Goldman Sachs