New platforms to help students land internships and build professional networks

NUS has officially launched two new digital platforms, the Internship-As-A-Service (IAAS) and conNectUS, to prepare students for the working world.

IAAS simultaneously meets the needs of industry partners for specialised talent, and expands the scope of hands-on internship and gig opportunities for NUS students.

On its part, conNectUS allows students to build greater connectivity with the University’s alumni and tap on their wealth of industry knowledge and experience as they chart their career journeys.

The two platforms were launched yesterday by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, at the NUS Kent Ridge campus, where students and alumni shared with him their experiences and features of the platforms. Industry partners like SIA, Oracle, and Grab, as well as companies in NUS start-up community, like Augmentus and Invigilo, were also present to witness the inauguration of the platforms.

Against a backdrop of NUS’ strengthening commitment to preparing graduates for the workplace of the future, the platforms support the holistic development of graduates particularly in the areas of interdisciplinary education, internship opportunities, intellectual flexibility, and diversity of skill sets, as well as instill the value of lifelong learning in graduates and alumni.

Underscoring the strength and scale of the NUS community of students, alumni, and start-ups, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “NUS recognises that we are in a unique position to create powerful platforms that bring together and match people, industry, skills and opportunities. The strong NUS brand name and reputation bring trust to the platforms that is vital for success.”

Mr Chan lauded the platforms’ ability to match industry to academia, which will quickly bring new technologies, knowledge, and skills to students. This ensures that academic curricula remain relevant and in tandem with evolving needs of companies and the economy.

“Industry exposure for students helps students translate what is taught in theory to real-world applications and gain other soft skills that may be more difficult to develop in a classroom setting, he said.

Companies get the opportunity to tap on fresh ideas and perspectives from students when they collaborate on projects, and better trained graduates mean a stronger future talent pipeline for  companies.”

Matching supply and demand in the talent marketplace

Led by the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates (NUS CFG) and NUS Enterprise, IAAS is a tight-knit, mutually beneficial talent marketplace that provides NUS students with the chance to land gigs and internships, while self-marketing their skills and talents — programming, data analysis, graphic design, copywriting, research, and the like. The platform also enables companies to tap on this talent pool for skilled services.

With more than 400 projects from over 60 companies and a strong pipeline of companies keen to come on board, IAAS is set to be a game changer in expanding the range of internship opportunities available to students. Industry partners, both local and overseas, are diverse, ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups like Augmentus and Invigilo, to multinational corporations, such as Baxter Singapore, Oracle, and Grab.

Students are alerted to valuable internship opportunities, meticulously curated to ensure they are intellectually meaningful and contribute towards expanding and deepening students’ skill sets and career portfolios. The internship experiences allow students to not only understand the evolving needs of employers and forge industry connections, but also apply the skills and knowledge from the classroom and augment their skillsets with real-world experience.

Ms Stacia Tay Hui Wen, a final-year NUS Business School student, who was one of the early pilot users of IAAS, said, “NUS IAAS provides students with exciting new opportunities. Besides the usual internships, I am now able to take on projects and internships of flexible lengths, throughout my studies, to expand different skillsets.”

This past vacation, Stacia secured a two-month internship with a family office through NUS IAAS, deepening her knowledge of the financial market.

“The platform opens up opportunities for students to undertake meaningful gigs from a broad spectrum of domains, and in a more flexible manner that is not tied down by academic calendar or duration,” Prof Tan explained. “Through these gigs, students engage in learning by doing, and will possess a richer combination of skills and work experience when they graduate.”

Cultivating a strong talent pipeline for industry

He also addressed the other half of the equation in the symbiotic talent marketplace — convenient and direct access of companies and businesses to skilled talent in the NUS community. Companies can easily engage NUS students from a range of disciplines and years of study in freelance projects, such as video-editing, software development, and digital marketing projects. They can also interview, recruit, and pay students on the platform, and monitor the progress of the job through milestone-tracking.

“In creating these platforms, we reduce barriers and create efficient interactions in sourcing for skilled services by having companies plugged directly into our NUS student talent pool,” Prof Tan said. “We also establish networks that will benefit both the NUS community and the industry.”

“The NUS IAAS and conNectUS platforms are excellent initiatives to connect talents within the school community to opportunities within the marketplace,” Daryl Lim, final-year Economics major at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of the start-up Augmentus, enthused.

“For Augmentus, we are always on the lookout for exceptional students and fresh graduates to join our team. These programmes allow us to identify skilled talents effectively and possibly convert them to full-time positions.”

Forging tight-knit talent networks

Boasting a growing community of more than 10,000 students and alumni, the conNectUS digital platform, developed by a multi-departmental taskforce led by NUS CFG, complements IAAS by connecting NUS students and alumni in a professional, gated networking space. These networks and professional relationships will open doors for students and graduates.

With features such as a people directory, live feeds and forums, event calendar, and job opportunities, students can plug into a wide and diverse pool of alumni for mentorship, to share insights and ideas and be notified of career development opportunities.

NUS Faculty of Science second-year student Mr Xie Qihuang, who majors in Pharmacy, shared, “I have used conNectUS to connect with healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists, to learn more about the profession as well as pharmacy operations. Furthermore, I am also interested in digital health and the application of data analytics and AI in healthcare, and have used the platform to connect with experienced professionals in these areas. The conNectUS platform has hence also helped me get a better idea of what it is like to work as a data professional in the healthcare industry.”

Alumni members can also benefit from this network to build a stronger connection with their alma mater and be spurred to pursue lifelong learning opportunities, while student societies and clubs stand to gain valuable avenues of mentorship from the conNectUS platform.

“The NUS network comprising students and alumni is an extensive and formidable one,” Mr Aniruddh Ramesh, President of the NUS Graduate Students’ Society, said. “Through conNectUS, I have been able to more easily connect with others in the NUS community to enhance my professional networks as a young professional. In addition, by leveraging conNectUS, the NUS Graduate Students’ Society was able to successfully bring onboard more than 50 new mentors to provide advice for our members.”

See press release and the Internship-As-A-Service and conNectUS platforms.