Career Preparation Programmes – An Update

Two years ago, I shared about the importance of career preparation workshops, and making them as accessible and convenient for students to attend them. I thought it would be good for me to give an update on how these workshops have been progressing.


The NUS Career Centre (NCC) introduced the HeadStart Module in AY2012/13. This is a 5-week tutorial module specially designed for freshmen, and it aims to guide students in thinking and preparing for their future careers. Students can then start to plan their education journey and projects, hone their expertise and cultivate experiences to develop a portfolio in line with their career goals. The topics covered include maximising student life, winning resumes and cover letters, effective interview skills, and mastering the art of networking. HeadStart was piloted in AY2012/13 for Faculty of Science (FOS) freshmen; the module was extended to Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) freshmen in AY2013/14, and from AY2014/15, freshmen from the School of Computing (SOC), School of Design and Environment (SDE), and the Faculty of Engineering (FOE) will get to read this module. At steady state, we hope that all 5,300 freshmen from these 5 Faculties will complete the HeadStart module.

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For the pilot run, nearly 1,300 FOS read the HeadStart module in AY2012/13. Participants shared honestly that they could not initially reckon why the HeadStart module was pre-allocated in their timetables. Deanery members had to prod and encourage students to attend, convince them of the benefits, and urged students to give the module a chance. Some students were sceptical; others were apprehensive. Certainly, the onus was on NCC to deliver an outstanding module, so that students can see the value of the experience.


The NCC rose well to the challenging task of organising career workshops on a large scale. The feedback received to date from course participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants felt that the HeadStart module has been effective (score of 5.02 out of a 6-point scale), and they are satisfied with the module (score of 4.97 out of a 6-point scale).  On hindsight, having gone through the module, many understood the need for such courses; some have asked for more sessions, and some even suggested for career preparation courses to be made compulsory! NCC will continually review and improve on the HeadStart course content. NCC is also exploring how certain segments of the HeadStart programme can be put online, perhaps on IVLE, so that students beyond the 5 Faculties can also access them.



Apart from the HeadStart module for freshmen, NCC also launched the StepUp module, which is designed to help graduating students identify the careers that best align with their profiles and interests, and to equip them with essential skills to differentiate themselves in a successful transition to their first jobs. StepUp was introduced in AY2012/13 to graduating students from the 5 Faculties in their 3rd or 4th years. StepUp is an opt-in programme and about 30% of graduating students attended StepUp in the last two academic years. Students’ feedback for the StepUp module has also been highly positive. The StepUp module will be phased out after AY2016/17 in tandem with the expansion of HeadStart programme.


The support from NCC does not end with the HeadStart and StepUp programmes. NCC offers a suite of other more purposeful and targeted programmes and advisory support that students can attend and consult for their career preparation, throughout their time at NUS. In addition to offering career preparation and development programmes, the NCC also provides Faculty-based Career Advisors at FASS, FOE, FOS, SOC, SDE and Faculty of Law. There is also a dedicated Career Advisor for postgraduate students. Career Advisors engage students at a personal level to work out customised career action plans; they also advise students on how best to present themselves and to acquire soft skills and practical work experiences. In AY2013/14, more than 3,000 students consulted their Career Advisors for mock interviews, career advice, resume critique and job search strategies; more students are coming forward to consult with Career Advisors. If you have any questions about your CV, or about careers, feel free to make an appointment with your Career Advisors.


We certainly welcome all feedback from students who have attended the HeadStart and StepUp programmes. May I also encourage graduating students to attend the StepUp programmes. To the freshmen from the 5 Faculties, I wish you a fun and fruitful learning experience for this year’s run of the HeadStart programme.