The “Leap to Success Virtual Challenge”, hosted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Faculty of Business, is proving to be a big hit with students gearing up for summer internships or a first full-time job after graduation. Organised by Classified Post, the event ties in with a series of seminars designed to share advice, insights and practical know-how, as well as to give a timely confidence boost to those preparing to step into the world of work.
For the Virtual Challenge, there are two main elements: online workshops and a competition. During the former, students have had the opportunity to attend a number of exclusive talks given by industry experts and leading professionals. The topics ranged from adopting an enterprising attitude and embarking on a career to giving effective presentations, building a personal brand, and networking to help stand out from the crowd.
In the second stage, participants shortlisted after completing various tasks assigned during the workshops can enter a competition with an HK$8,000 cash prize. The winners will be announced at the end of May, with a prize presentation ceremony set to take place in early June.
According to Dr Hazel Lee, faculty coordinator for student development at PolyU’s Faculty of Business, the Virtual Challenge will not only enhance all-round learning and development, but also help students overcome specific concerns caused by Covid-19.
“The pandemic has created a lot of worries, and many students are concerned about securing their first graduate job, or a good internship, at a time when competition for such positions is intense,” Lee says. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to prepare as well as possible and make the most of their online learning experience by offering an interactive, engaging seminar series and an instructive competition.”
The first of the online workshops focused on how to prepare a CV, interview skills, and initial career planning. In that context, Virginia Choi, managing consultant and country manager for Tamty McGill Consultants International, explained the continuing importance of crafting a good CV, one that neatly highlights individual strengths and is not too generic.
In doing this, she provided detailed tips on how to make sure a CV comes across as results-oriented and authentic. She advised students to use her recommended method for writing a resume, which allows them to showcase how they overcame past challenges and how activities they have taken part in helped to develop attributes which can be put to good use in a work environment. Choi also offered words of wisdom about appropriate professional appearance, manners and etiquette during interviews, and her six key steps for career development.
The students have also benefited from an entertaining and humorous talk by Desmond So, founder and chief consultant of the East-West Institute of Applied Etiquette. As an international emcee and television presenter, So had plenty of eye-opening tips on everything from business etiquette to personal presentation, and how to avoid missteps and mistakes. “A good self-image is a combination of physical, behavioural and mental factors,” he said.
A third workshop featured Gary Lo, managing director and principal instructor of Glo Consulting. His presentation focused on making presentations impactful through storytelling”. That starts with having the right content, so Lo guided the students through the steps needed to put a good presentation together, from collating useful data to creating the right structure and flow. He also noted the importance of body language, expression, and suitable use of video content to add something extra.
The students have heard too from Fyiona Yong, executive coach for Wholistic Coachsulting, on the subject of empowering an entrepreneurial mindset. Particularly useful for business students, this talk dealt with the hard and soft skills necessary for success in today’s world. Yong also encouraged her audience to find their passion, talents, core values and strengths and to channel them towards achieving a clear purpose.
Overall, Dr Lee notes, the workshops focused more on soft skills, a deliberate decision reflecting the changing expectations of employers and hiring managers.
“This type of training is crucial because soft skills allow students to fully implement and express their knowledge, technical expertise and competencies,” Lee says. “Increasingly, employers are looking for graduates who have business acumen and practical know-how, but also the soft skills to work well with colleagues, clients and stakeholders in different business or organisational settings.”