Future-proof their jobs: Internships in demand among millennials

The office crowd in the central business district.
The office crowd in the central business district.PHOTO: ST FILE

Over 7 in 10 young people seek internships, industry projects to gain skills: Survey

Taking a few classes on how to write a resume and handle job interviews is not enough to land that dream job.

Instead, millenials here - referring to those in their late teens till around 30 years of age - believe internships, working on industry projects and taking part in competitions may work better in helping them get the jobs they want.

A survey conducted by career-development portal Glints of 1,000 millennials - either students or graduates of polytechnics and universities here - asked them about the challenges they face in entering the job market and what they are doing to overcome these challenges.

Nine out of 10 of those surveyed agreed that the workforce they will be graduating into will be radically different from today's.

However, slightly more than half of the respondents (56 per cent) believe that what they are learning in school is inadequate.

 

As a result, 78 per cent said they have actively searched outside of school for opportunities, to take part in industry-led competitions or work internship opportunities which they believe will help them gain skills for their future job.

Eight in 10 said they were willing to sacrifice personal leisure time to take part in these opportunities.

Mr Looi Qin En, co-founder and chief operating officer of Glints, noted that university and polytechnic students are already being encouraged to go on internships.

He said students are also on the lookout for opportunities on their own. "Being industry- ready is not just about resume and interview preparation workshops, but having real experiences through internships, competitions and projects. This is the new norm."

Companies changing recruitment methods

He noted that many companies are also changing the way they recruit young talents. They are offering internships and holding competitions to find talent.

"Companies are beginning to create opportunities for students to develop and showcase their skills, while using these opportunities as avenues for talent attraction and employer branding," he said.

One example is IT solutions firm JOS, which launched a competition last year to get students to use technology to design practical solutions for modern-day problems. The Innovation Award saw over 80 submissions from student teams from polytechnics, universities and private tertiary institutions.

JOS spokesman Valerie Cai said a similar competition held in Hong Kong led the company to offer internships to some of the finalists. The company, which has 2,200 IT professionals worldwide, hopes to net some talents from Singapore.

Mr Roger Grant, co-founder of personal development firm Personna, said that in today's highly disruptive world of work, the people who are succeeding are those who are "co-creating" their work with their prospective employers.

"Actual work experience helps to differentiate between a passing hobby and a longer-term passion. It also helps you pick up valuable skills," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Future-proof their jobs: Millennials go beyond school'. Print Edition | Subscribe