The topic of the employability of Singaporeans has been on everyone’s tongue recently. Us too, as educators with a global corporate perspective. For us, education is about helping your child get into the institutions and organisations of their choice: and of course, that mission goes beyond grades. Here are 5 traits we think will make your child globally employable – and how we train your child to embody these traits.
① Humility, of course. Humility is attractive especially since you’ll be starting your career at the part of the Dunning-Kruger curve where you might feel like you know a lot – but you don’t. The young always think they know better (a theme, incidentally, explored in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) but oftentimes their rash decisions or outbursts lead to career tragedy. Humility can go a long way in tempering this, and lead you instead to look for guidance and mentorship before deciding to take actions.
How Academia trains your child to embody this trait: We provide positive reinforcement when it comes to effort and hard work, as well as improvements, rather than raw scores and grades. We also remind our students not to get complacent and focus on the big picture: their growth into adults with high-flying careers.
② Being proactive gets you ahead – and without it, you won’t survive. Sitting passively and waiting for someone to give you instructions is not a trait that employers desire. In most corporate environments, people are too busy to sit around and guide you. And even with training programmes in place at the largest firms, those who proactively go around to look for guidance and ask for work are more likely to flourish than those who would prefer to disappear into the background and hope nobody notices them. That’s the best way to make yourself redundant, especially when coupled with a the mentality that it is your employer’s job to engage you! (See the next point.)
How Academia trains your child to embody this trait: We have an open culture that encourages students to approach us if they need extra help outside the lessons – whether it’s reviewing that portfolio to apply for a selective creating writing course or just asking questions that you might not be able to in class.
③ Be self-motivated, not needy. All companies these days understand that they need to keep you motivated to do well. But if your company constantly has to find ways to engage you at work, or if you are so accustomed to being deliberately entertained all the time that you lack the ability to motivate yourself to do grunt work, you won’t last very long in any job. You’ll also end up on the receiving end of resentment from your managers and supervisors.
How Academia trains your child to embody this trait: We believe in engaging our students in learning and making the subject itself intrinsically interesting, rather than using extrinsic gimmicks and tricks to grab their attention. Learning can sometimes be tough, but that’s precisely why it is so rewarding.
④ Be open to cultural diversity. Overly judgmental people are unlikely to flourish in global work environments that require cultural sensitivity to all different types of people and working styles. Being unable to work with people from different cultures narrows your options significantly and immediately rules you out for work at any international firm. Also, firms these days see diversity as a core strength and won’t hire you if they think you will be a source of conflict because you can’t get along with everyone else.
How Academia trains your child to embody this trait: We deliberately select a variety of texts from various social and cultural backgrounds, and train our teachers on using language in class that is culturally sensitive. The Academia Universe of characters – including beloved literary characters like Katherine Kan, Myra Mon, Gordon Gom and Daniel Don – has been built around individuals and contexts that transcend social and cultural stereotypes.
⑤ Above all, be positive. A lot of has been said about resilience, but dogged resilience is not particularly helpful in the private sector without a healthy dose of optimism. It’s not about slogging through the work and getting it done with; it’s about looking for the positives and greeting your boss and colleagues with a smile, no matter how tired you might feel. Positivity is chronically underrated in the Singaporean context, but especially at global American firms, it is one of the most important and valuable traits.
How Academia trains your child to embody this trait: Did your child come home telling you how their teacher discussed the joy of comprehension or composition? (It strikes students as odd the first few lessons before they get used to it.) We train our teachers not only to use positive reinforcement but to be paragons of positivity themselves. Work can be a joy; there can be immense satisfaction from completing an exhausting grammar drill. A cultural environment modelled after quintessentially American corporations, Singapore-style. Your child will be able to code-switch between these cultures effortlessly.