15 November 2019: Yale-NUS students learn professional and personal skills from Life Skills Workshops

By Kelly Ng

From time management, effective communication and crisis management to email etiquette and personal statement advice, students are picking up these important life skills through a series of lunch events at Yale-NUS College.

These lunch events are part of the Life Skills Lunches organised by the College’s Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) to offer students an invaluable opportunity to refine their professional and personal skills in a guided and comfortable setting.

The Life Skills Lunches series was first started in late 2017, and has been very popular with students.

“These skill-oriented lunches were first conceptualised to give students the opportunity to refine their (soft) skills and be more effective in their professional communication and relationships beyond the classroom. Many students already utilise similar skills such as email writing and time management skills, in their student organisation activities or outside of school. Thus, lunches like this offer them an informal platform to talk with CIPE staff about their experiences and challenges,” said Ms Tan Yock Theng, Programme Manager (Leadership & Global Citizenship) at CIPE.

Every Life Skills Lunch is based on a different theme according to the needs of the students. Examples of the themes include Transitions and Reflections, Conflict Resolution and Cultivating Grit. For the first session this semester, the theme was Transitions and Reflections and it encouraged students to reflect on their summer experiences through the lens of social identity and the activities that give or drain our energy.

The lunches attract students across all years, nationalities and academic disciplines.

“I feel I was rather inexperienced in presenting myself well professionally. When working on writing examples with the mentors from CIPE, I get the chance to receive professional feedback on my improvised narratives. The concise but fruitful sessions have not only strengthened my confidence when it comes to formal communication, but also taught me networking skills, which have proved themselves helpful ever since,” said one of the participants, Lynn Drescher (Class of 2023).

Image by Charmaine Chua/Yale-NUS College.

For Damon Lim (Class of 2021, in photo above), the Life Skills Lunches provide an opportunity to let students ask specific questions about different scenarios that they may be faced with, versus a general professional development workshop.

“When I was organising a datathon with partners at Yale University, my CIPE mentor gave me awesome advice on good communication and email skills that contributed to the success of my event,” he said.

Similarly, Rachel Lim (Class of 2020) appreciates the meaningful conservations she has had with the CIPE team, which helped her to develop ideas for a personal statement, draft a letter to a professor and refine her public speaking skills. “I really enjoy the entire concept of Life Skill Lunches – it’s a good opportunity to learn some basic, social skills that often get overlooked in professional life such as how to write good follow-up emails and how to introduce yourself to people you’ve never met.”

Whilst the Life Skills Lunches do focus on having CIPE staff on the ground to personally dispense advice to students, the small group setting also results in students helping one another.

Another participant, Rayner Ng (Class of 2020) shared that what he found most useful was the collaborative sharing and learning, not just by the instructor, but by other fellow participating students. He added that many students shared useful tips on professional development and personal management based on their own experiences.

“My greatest takeaway is that personal management skills can be learnt and put into routine practice as long as one is motivated enough to make changes to one’s own life,” Rayner said.