Third run of NGO Boot Camp equips students with essential skills for non-profit sector

10 June 2016

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

NGO Boot Camp (banner) 

Five days of intensive workshops with established Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) practitioners left Darrel Chang (Class of 2019) with a healthy dose of reality.

“Prior to the programme, I have always looked at NGO work from a purist, idealist standpoint and harboured a distrust of the corporate sector. Where I’d once regarded ‘entrepreneurship’ as a dirty word, the ‘smart money’ in social entrepreneurship is now seen as the more efficient, effective, and sustainable method of creating change.”

Organised by the Yale-NUS Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), the NGO Boot Camp is a 5-day intensive training that aims to equip students and partners with knowledge and skills for social impact and transformation. To reflect the diversity of perspectives and experiences, the boot camp featured speakers across a mix of non-profit, social impact, academic and corporate sectors. 52 participants, comprising students from Yale-NUS and NUS, and NGO partners attended the event from 9 to 13 May 2016.

Speakers included Dr Tan Lai Yong, Director for Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice & Peter Tan; Ms Fiona Kanagasingam, Senior Consultant (Innovation) at Community Resource Exchange; and Dr Vivienne Wee, Research & Advocacy Director at the Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE).

Topics covered over the five days ranged from human-centered design for social impact to financial management for NGOs. The latter was led by representatives from Empact, a Singapore-based social enterprise that provides a range of services to NGOs.

Ms Tan Yock Theng, Programme Manager (Leadership & Global Citizenship) at CIPE explained that the camp also served as a pre-internship training for students who were heading off to work at NGOs over summer.

“After the boot camp, many students will intern at non-profit organisations whose work fall along a wide range of themes such as anti-corruption (Transparency International, Cambodia); environmental conservation (Conservation International, Samoa); and technology (Code for Asia, Singapore).”

Denise See (Class of 2019) was particularly struck by the segment titled ‘Resourcing social impact and change’ by Ms Mae Anderson, Head of Credit Suisse Wealth Institute. “Ms Anderson’s talk was extremely useful because funding is so crucial to implementing any idea, and the session reaffirmed my perception that there is no way to go about fund-raising except through sheer hard work,” she noted.

For Darrel, it was Dr Tan Lai Yong’s talk that inspired him the most. “He touched on something that I believe is often overlooked in social work: the importance of listening and truly understanding the beneficiaries.”

“Dr Tan also stressed the need to empower the beneficiaries to take responsibility for themselves, and not foster a culture of dependency that would result in a vicious cycle of vulnerability.”

Darrel shared that the five days had not only widened his horizons and opened his mind to new, constructive ideas, but also equipped participants with a diverse, albeit notably technical, toolset that will help them take their first steps into the NGO world.

“I’ll be taking these new perspectives, as well as the technical skills learnt, into my forthcoming tenure as President of the Yale-NUS Association for the Protection of Animals,” he shared.

A flagship programme of the Yale-NUS CIPE Office, the NGO Boot Camp is now into its third year.