Wednesday, 28 October 2015: The International Relations/ Communication Studies Careers Day was held in the Great Hall from 2 – 4.30 pm. Seven speakers with work experience in diverse fields – think tanks, public policy advocacy, public relations, film producing, radio broadcasting, public policy, humanitarian work, and politics – were invited to share career insights with UNMC students.
The seven invited speakers (Ngai Yuen was replaced by her deputy Abby Latiff for the actual event)
Unlike the usual UNMC Careers Fair, where representatives of various corporations set up booths in the Great Hall and students are free to wander from one booth to the next, the organizers (Career Services, PHIR-Nott and SMLC) opted for a different format. Students who registered were asked to indicate their top three choices of speakers, and were then assigned to two 30-minute long discussion groups with two of their choices. This took place after a general introduction of each speaker; students were also free to engage with the speakers after the event, over tea, coffee, banana cake, and curry puffs.
While the speakers each had diverse educational and career experiences, they generally emphasized the need for intellectual curiosity, commitment to learning while on the job, the ability to think critically, and the importance of pursuing a career path guided by personal motivation. The participants also had the chance to ask them more personal questions about their own motivations, the challenges they faced, and their past experiences of successes and failures.
UNMC students engage Dr Ong Kian Ming in a conversation after the event
The idea of the IR & ICS Careers Day began when third-year IR student Jordan Tan was employed by Career Services as a student ambassador during the previous summer break. Careers Adviser Alicia Chng had assigned him the task of organizing the first IR Careers Day, and he decided to collaborate with SMLC since some of the career interests of graduates from both courses overlapped. With the help of Career Services student assistant Lai Chern Li, a survey of IR and ICS students was conducted over the summer. Speakers from the fields of interest were invited with the help of PHIR-Nott, Dr Thomas Barker, Dr Stephen Acreman, Dr Sean Matthews, and Yeong Woon Chin.
Jordan estimated that the event cost over RM 600, with it being fully sponsored by Careers Services. The event was also made possible with the help of the Music Society, Photography Society, and student helpers from SMLC. The organizing committee decided that the discussion group arrangement would create a more casual and fun atmosphere, while encouraging students to direct more meaningful and challenging questions to the speakers in their respective discussion groups.
Participants were divided into 30 min discussion groups in the Great Hall during the event
When asked about the difficulties faced by IR and ICS graduates in navigating the job market, Jordan and PHIR-Nott president Victoria Cheng noted that the lack of information and awareness of job opportunities in the working world was the key challenge. Victoria noted that there was a relative lack of exposure to career options in the performing arts, advertising, copywriting, think tanks, and NGOs, and hoped that UNMC student could gain more exposure to the creative industries via more internship opportunities, study visits, and events like this.
By Augustine Chay