Every year, the period from late June to August marks the graduating season for students in Singapore universities. Graduation ceremonies are an important milestone for most undergraduates before they choose to further their studies or enter the workforce. Also, with the ongoing pandemic, in-person ceremonies have either been switched to virtual sessions or indefinitely postponed. For a recent graduate, there will be uncertainties and challenges faced before they eventually land their first job. I recall being a final-year student myself a few years ago and thinking about what I wanted to do, how do I search for the right job, or if I even knew what my strengths were. I had no idea how to start and I can imagine graduates today going through the same thing.
When the opportunity to speak to underserved graduating students in Singapore on how to navigate their career pathways was brought up by our friends at LinkedIn, I jumped at it in September 2019 and included it as part of our Expedia Group Month of Caring activities. We have since participated on four other occasions with the most recent one in May 2021. Career Conversations is a program jointly run by LinkedIn Social Impact and Halogen Foundation Singapore with the aim of providing guidance to youths as they embark on their school-to-work transitions through impactful conversations between youths and industry professionals. While originally designed as a quickfire mentoring session with one mentor speaking to one youth for 15-20 mins before switching to another youth, the global pandemic meant that everything had to be moved online.
Career Conversations remains to be one of the most popular options available and sign-ups are almost always full within the day after registration opens. The feedback that we have received from Expedia volunteers so far was that they enjoyed interacting with the students and learning from their perspectives while sharing their take on being someone who has been an industry professional. Many Expedians also shared how they had wished there was something similar when they were making their own school-to-work transition. Participating youths have also shared that it is during this age of a global pandemic that it is more crucial than ever to build connections and receive valuable insights in planning for their career.
With the Expedia Cares program, I am glad to have had the opportunity to participate in various volunteering programs (either as part of Month of Caring or on an ad-hoc basis) and create an impact in the community I live and operate in. The flexible time-off policies for volunteering also allows me to give back by working on projects that I am passionate about. Career Conversations is one of the many volunteer programs that are available in the Singapore office and in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of Month of Caring this September, I am looking forward to working with other Expedians to engage our communities through mentorship, skills-based initiatives or even spending a day at the local soup kitchen.
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