Life skills for students

02 February 2016 | Education
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Student job seekers thronging the NUS Career Fair 2016

Roots and Wings, a foundational life skills programme, kicked off in January this year to equip NUS first-year undergraduates with personal and interpersonal skills. Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, elaborated on the new programme at the opening ceremony of the NUS Career Fair 2016 on 1 February.

The innovative initiative, run by the Centre for Future-ready Graduates (CFG), seeks to prepare NUS students for an increasingly complex world; inspire them to develop an interest for lifelong learning; and help them gain from experiential learning opportunities. More than 2,100 freshmen are currently undergoing the mandatory Roots and Wings 1.0, a 20-hour course that includes two workshops and seven e-modules on topics such as focus, awareness, empathetic communication and resilience. 

Version 2.0 offers more interactive sessions that delve deeper into the neuroscience and psychology of the first programme, motivating participants to understand their strengths and competencies. This helps them to deal with change and failure, as well as build their own personal brand to market themselves to employers.

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Prof Tan (2nd from right) and NUS Vice Provost (Special Duties) Prof Chan Eng Soon (far right) interacting with exhibitors and students at the event

Ong Ming Lun, a Year 1 Engineering student who is going through the Roots and Wings 2.0 programme, finds it enriching and experiential. According to him, the course encourages participants to take risks in interpersonal communication by opening up to others and sharing their insecurities about the future. The programme will ultimately conclude by involving students in a Capstone project that allows them to create and co-develop module content for the next batch of participants.

Separately, Year 2 students will be able to opt for a module called Career Ready commencing second half of this year. Ms Crystal Lim-Leahy, Director of CFG, pointed out that the new module will replace the existing HeadStart course. In addition to what HeadStart offers in interviewing basics, resume writing and workplace readiness, Career Ready will also include entrepreneurial mindsets and skills such as pitching, networking and negotiation, building on the self-awareness and communication skills learned in Roots and Wings. 

Prof Tan highlighted that NUS is investing $10 million over the next three years into these various initiatives and to strengthen CFG’s professional staff.

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Freshmen participating in the Roots and Wings programme

The annual NUS Career Fair on 1 and 5 February features employers across various industries, such as finance, hotel, engineering, healthcare, infocomm, retail and aviation. The interactive platform allows NUS students and alumni to engage prospective employers and source for internship and employment opportunities. This year’s fair focuses on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sectors, which make up about half of the participating employers.

Ms Dawn Goh, recruiting section manager of Micron Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd, said the company plans to hire some 200 engineers this year. She said, “We love the fresh graduates from NUS. They have the passion, the energy and the willingness to pick things up. Most of their career paths have proven that they can accelerate relatively fast after they join the firm,” she noted. 

Ms Goh welcomes the Roots and Wings push because new graduates sometimes lack the soft skills required for the workplace despite their academic excellence. She believes the skillset and leadership quality inculcated through the programme will enable the young employees to stand out, especially when they progress up the corporate ladder.

Watch the video of Roots and Wings workshop.