Addressing the challenges of the future: Careers Fair 2018
Rebecca Butterworth, High School Principal, Dover Campus
On Saturday, 24 February 2018, UWCSEA Dover hosted the annual Careers Fair. Organised by the Parents' Association from East and Dover, over 70 career professionals volunteered their time, giving students a unique opportunity to meet and hear from a diverse range of professionals in Singapore.
In some schools the Careers Fair functions as a tool for Grade as a tool for Grade 11 and 12 course selection and an opportunity to understand certain career paths. At UWCSEA it is instead a time to connect, be inspired and be challenged.
We are all aware that the world of work has shifted and will continue to shift in ways that are hard to predict. For many of us parents it perhaps even exceeds our capacity to imagine what it might look like for our children in 15, 10 or 5 years time. After all, many of us have enjoyed stable, linear careers. At times this can be a terrifying concept (how can we prepare our children for a future we don’t fully understand) that sends us into panic mode. For our children, though, it is a time of extraordinary possibilities. Their landscape of work will be dynamic and energising as innovative, disruptive thinking comes to the fore alongside the need to be increasingly reflective, solutions-focused and effective at communicating.
The panel discussions on Saturday were insightful and in particular the Futures Panel was a highlight. This panel really pushed students (and parents) to think beyond grades, make multidisciplinary connections, take informed risks, embrace innovation and seek mentoring from those with experience. One young panelist talked about how his GPA was irrelevant and he no longer listed it on his CV. He found that it was what he did - whether or not he grasped the opportunities made available to him - that enabled him to succeed in the workforce and do the kind of work he finds inspiring. One panelist named the reality: a university degree might get a new graduate through the initial HR step, but it is whether they can show flexibility and adaptability through what they have done that makes them attractive to employers.
Essentially, the UWCSEA Careers fair is about helping students embrace the challenges of the future by being more agile and taking a holistic view of their own successes. Having good interpersonal skills, engaging with technological innovation, seeking out ‘real-world’ opportunities (e.g. through internships), and being good problem-solvers and self-starters are crucial. Our challenge as parents and educators is to shift our thinking away from a relentless focus on exam grades so that we, and our children, have the time to engage with the possibilities of the future.