TES students complete SELP programme

11 November, 2020

By ECCT staff writers

The Taipei European School (TES) has reported the successful completion of a summer vacation programme aimed at helping senior students get their first experience of working in the real world. According to an article in TES’s CONNECT Magazine, seven students from the school’s 2021 H3 class participated in the first Summer Experiential Learning Programme (SELP), where they were placed in various industries including finance, consulting, education, technology, publication and mass media. Several ECCT member companies participated by offering positions to students. As part of their commitments, the companies took the time to review candidates’ applications, interview them and then provide training, support, and guidance on the job. According to Nancy Chien, Head of University and Careers Counselling at TES, students who participated in the SELP programme all walked away from the experience with valuable insights on what it’s like to work in a real workplace environment.

According to Ms Chien, objectives in launching the programme were to provide students with opportunities to: (1) Gain hands-on experience of what it is like to have a real job; (2) Explore a particular interest, finding ways to connect this interest to a possible future career; (3) Develop new skill sets and learn more about themselves; (4) Inform discussions about post-secondary options and the selection of courses and majors; (5) Gain knowledge of the career planning process from conducting thorough research, drafting resumes and cover letters, to actually finishing a four to six week block of summer work.

Students were asked to submit two reports, an induction report at the end of their first week of SELP and a final report explaining what they learned about work and themselves. They all described their experience as a great learning opportunity about potential careers. One student reflected in her report; “On the most basic level, I gained knowledge about how a company operates and the general atmosphere of the working environment. This has helped me understand whether this specific work environment is what I want for my future. I also learned the importance of communication and raising questions. If conversations between my mentor and I had not occurred, I wouldn’t have been able to produce the quality of work she was looking for.”

Another student commented, “My time there made me realise how passionate I am about new connections and learning new things. Moreover, it gave me a more solid understanding of my field of interest and what a career as a journalist might look like. To be able to have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals, making professional connections with them and receiving their advice, was really a privilege. Additionally, I have been wanting to learn web analytics for ages and I actually had the chance to learn from a professional growth editor who talked me through the basics.”

According to Ms Chien, “As a University and Careers Counsellor, what we want students to understand when they embark on these experiences is that career development is not just knowing how to write a resume and do what is asked of them in a job. It is also about developing all the soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and teamwork which are needed in a workplace”.

She added, “Rather than thinking that careers are just work, we want to stress the idea of career development as a lifestyle concept, and as students gain more life experiences, they learn to understand what their work values are. Do they enjoy working with people? Are they motivated by achievement, prestige, security, income, or all these factors? How will they balance what they want as they take on different life roles in the future? How might the degree of importance attached to work shift over time? In our currently fast-changing environment, students have to be prepared to handle and embrace change. They may end up in jobs that do not yet exist, but they have the intellectual aptitude, grit, flexibility, and adaptability to tackle the unknown.”

According to Ms Chien, not many high schools have an internship programme like SELP, so partnerships with various corporations is important. When soliciting feedback from their students’ mentors and supervisors, Ms Chien said that one of them alluded to the idea that sometimes it is not always the A student who gets hired in a workplace, but a person who can truly work in a team and get along with his or her colleagues. One employer even said, “In our field, when we hire recent university graduates, we are not asking about their technical ability as we can already assume, they have the ability given their major. We are looking at personality and fit with our company culture.” Hopefully through SELP, students consider all these aspects in the future when applying for future jobs.

The following companies participated in the programme: Allianz, Anemone Ventures, Barco, CommonWealth Magazine, GD1, ISS, and Lighthouse Camps.  

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