10 July 2018: How to make a difference to the world: Yale-NUS students learn all about social impact work

By Daryl Yang | Image provided by the Centre for International & Professional Experience

From 14 to 18 May 2018, a group of students from Yale-NUS College and Pomona College gathered at the Yale-NUS campus for the Social Impact Bootcamp, a flagship programme by the Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE). Previously known as the NGO Bootcamp, the programme exposes participants to the world of social impact work.

Facilitated by corporate and non-profit experts, the programme is a multi-module sequence that aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to make a difference in Singapore and the world.

According to Jessica Lim, Programme Manager at CIPE, the programme was expanded this year to expose students not only to social impact work by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) but other sectors as well.

“We’ve made these changes in recognition that student interests and NGO work sit within the social impact space, which is broader in scope and definition than just the NGO sector. As such, we have restructured the programme to incorporate a breath of perspectives and practical skills with experts from various fields that are not limited to NGOs. This includes social entrepreneurs, academics, NGOs and corporate partners,” she explained.

“This year’s programme was carefully curated with the aim to equip the participants with skills to be effective contributors in the social impact space.”

Participants with the trainers from Bold at Work

For instance, the week-long programme kicked off with a session facilitated by trainers from Bold at Work to introduce the idea of public narratives. Students were introduced to skills such as resource mobilisation and constructing a theory of change by leaders from various fields. This included Mae Anderson, chairman of Art Outreach Singapore and Head of Emerging Talent, Private Banking, APAC at Credit Suisse, and Dr Sri Chander, Director of the Leadership Institute for Global Health Transformation (LIGHT) at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

Another unique aspect of this year’s programme was the focus on application-based learning and off-campus experiences.

“While the general aims of Social Impact Bootcamp are to provide a balance of foundational theory and practical skills to equip students for the social impact sectors, there was more emphasis on hands-on and experiential learning in this year’s Bootcamp,” Ms Lim explained.

For instance, students participated in a community outreach project with Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) on the second day of the Bootcamp.

“A few Bootcamp participants initiated the donation drive in April to increase awareness about migrant workers issues and garner support from the Yale-NUS community. Because of the encouraging support from faculty, staff and students, the participants were able to raise more funds than we anticipated during the drive,” she shared.

On the final day of the Bootcamp, students attended the Social iCon We4, organised by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Singapore Management University. This provided students with the opportunity to network and learn more about the social impact scene in Singapore and the region.

Students attended the Social iCon We4, organised by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Singapore Management University.

A group of exchange students from Pomona College in California also participated in this year’s Bootcamp.

Joel Yew (Class of 2021) decided to participate in the Bootcamp to pick up skills that might be applicable in his involvement in the student organisation, Community Impact (ComPact) or possibly in his future career as well as interacting with other students who are interested in creating social impact within the community. ComPact is a Yale-NUS student organisation dedicated to increasing the involvement of students in off-campus community service.

Students who plan to undertake social impact-related internships are required to attend the Bootcamp to prepare them for their internships subsequently during the summer break.

Annabelle Ho (Class of 2021) decided to participate in the Bootcamp because of her interest in social impact work, particularly in social entrepreneurship.

The Public Narrative workshop in progress. 

“The Bootcamp had interesting programmes such as the Public Narrative workshop and the Resourcing for Social Change talk that were incredibly relevant and useful for someone who wants to make change on a larger scale – exactly what I needed to learn before starting anything,” she shared.

“My favourite session was the negotiation task based on a Harvard Business Review case study which had us divided into smaller groups. I had a great time grappling with the complexity of organisational relations.”

Like Annabelle, the negotiation task was also Joel’s favourite part of the Bootcamp.

“It was effective in teaching me an important skill that is useful in different contexts. The workshop also helped me realise that the crucial bit about negotiations is understanding the concerns of the other party and preserving a relationship,” he noted.

On her greatest takeaway, Annabelle shared that it was being exposed to the different ingredients necessary to run a successful social enterprise.

“The many different social entrepreneurs who spoke to us had made great gateways into diverse areas. I gained a more holistic understanding of what a social enterprise is, and what it should be,” she added.