NUS pilots new programme to prepare women for the workforce

NUS female students can look forward to learning to build a career for themselves with greater confidence and passion -- in a six-week course at the University that is run exclusively for women on the threshold of stepping into the working world.

Helmed by the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates (CFG), the pilot course of the Women’s Professional Development Programme ran from 8 Feb to 24 Mar. It saw 30 final-year students going through experimental sessions on human-centred design, personal branding, advocacy, managing difficult conversations, and building a support network.

“Recognising the challenges often faced by young women entering the workforce, CFG developed a pilot programme to equip final-year female students with the most critical skills, attributes and mindsets to excel in the first one to two years of their careers”, said Ms Camilla Tam, Head of Learning & Development at CFG.

Before launching the programme, the Centre conducted a survey and in-depth interviews with several young NUS alumna in July 2020. According to these alumna, challenges upon embarking on their first career included reticence in putting themselves forward for opportunities, and the fear of taking risks and advocating for themselves.

Learning from trailblazers

In first session, Design Thinking and Challenge, facilitated by Girls in Tech Singapore, students collaborated to answer the problem statement "How might companies create an enjoyable and meaningful virtual onboarding process for employees?". In quick-fire rounds, they brainstormed, pitched, and delivered constructive criticism, developing their confidence to experiment, take quick decisions and deal with feedback.

In the finale event, participants met with inspirational young alumni Ms Nisha Rajoo (NUS Class of 2014), Manager at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), and Ms Adriana Rasip (NUS Class of 2016), Manager at the National Council of Social Services (NCSS).

They also met with trail-blazing female leaders, including Ms Pauline Tee, Head of Transformation Asia, Standard Chartered Bank; Ms Yvonne Mak, Associate at Withers KhattarWong LLP and EXCO of the Young Women's Leadership Connection (YWLC); Ms Sabrina Ho, Founder & CEO, half the sky®; and Ms Seow Hui Hong, Healthcare Innovation & Commercialisation; Venture Builder, MiRXES.

In small group discussions, the young women sought the advice of the female leaders who shared their stories and challenges they had overcome to reach great heights in their careers.

Toh Mei Jun, a particpant from NUS Life Sciences, said it has been an eye-opening experience. Another, Calissa Man En Qin, an NUS Political Science student, hoped more female undergraduates could join the programme to learn from each other as well as from female mentors and role models.

 “Being a part of this women’s programme really helped me to broaden up my perspective on how to navigate into the workplace. It was very informative and insightful, with great real-world examples that made the lessons easy to understand and apply,” summed up Cai Yuqian, an NUS Information Systems student.


By the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates