Singapore’s YPS has developed the Career Lounge event format, allowing students and YPs to network in an informal environment.
IET Singapore’s Young Professionals Section (YPS) has developed a great new event format called the Career Lounge, which allows students and young professionals (YPs) to network and gain career advice in a relaxed environment.
The Career Lounge events have been developed specifically for the IET’s younger members, who are invited to attend a career or technology-focused event in a private area within a restaurant or hotel. Topics covered so far include the CEng application process, with an upcoming event looking at patent law.
“They started in October 2012 with the arrival of the new session/committee,” explains YPS chair Hayden Taylor. “There was a sense that we wanted to encourage more informal gatherings where people wouldn't be afraid to ask direct questions, and speakers or panelists wouldn't be put off from participation by feeling they needed to do a lot of preparation - as might be seen to be the case with the normal technical talk format.
“We have had two events so far addressing the CEng application process,” he continues. “The first event was an introduction to the principles of CEng status and how to prepare applications. This was led by Richard Fong, our local professional registration advisor. The second event was a panel discussion where CEng registered engineers shared their experiences: how they prepared, how they picked their sponsors, what the interview was like etc., and the benefits of being professionally registered.
“Next month we will have an introduction to patent law given by IET member and patent attorney Freeman Yu, who attended the second lounge and was enthused by the format,” he adds.
These events were developed by a group of volunteers from the region including Hayden, the Singapore network administrative officer Yvonne Ko, and Network’s chair Jolyon Caplin, and supported by IET staff.
“Winnie Lee, our main contact in HK, supported us by organising a meeting between the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student section committee and myself and Yvonne Ko,” notes Hayden. “The meeting, which happened during one of Winnie's visits to Singapore, helped me to encourage the student section to promote career lounge events to their members. Winnie also offered moral support by letting us know that our efforts were in line with the IET's objectives.”
Venues picked were popular restaurants and bars in Singapore including Orgo and Da Paolo, where the YPS arranged to have a section cordoned off for the event, with catering provided at the location.
“They’re well known venues and we felt they would lend the events the right atmosphere. We knew that we could have an area that was reasonably quiet to discuss things,” Hayden explains.
“We didn’t want them to be too big, we wanted everyone to have a chance to speak,” he continues. “For example, for the second CEng event we held it so everyone was sitting around a table and I started by going round and asking people to introduce themselves, explaining why they were interested in CEng and whether they had it or were thinking of applying. It would not be practical to do that at a larger event, so a tone is set.”
So far Career Lounge events have been promoted via targeted emails and word of mouth.
“We basically targeted the first event at everyone 35 and under; the IET’s definition of a young professional,” says Hayden. “For the second event we upped that to 40, so as to spread the net a little wider.
“We’ve been quite pleased with the turnout, roughly 15-20 people at each event, which was perfect for the format we wanted. Participants seemed to enjoy them – we had plenty of follow-up messages from people preparing their CEng applications and a number of potential YPS committee members have put themselves forward after attending,” he says proudly.
“I think it’s important to do events like this,” Hayden continues, “to us it feels like the logical thing to do and I think our members are more likely to pursue CEng and the quality of their applications is likely to be higher thanks to the Career Lounges. We’ll definitely be sharing our experiences with other networks at this year’s volunteer conference.”
Looking forward, the Singapore Network wants to do a number of YP-focused events including further Career Lounges as well as larger day-long conferences.
“We’re looking at a whole range of options. One is to connect more with smaller companies and also the start-up community in Singapore, which is thriving. We’re trying to come up with a good format for an event along those lines.
“I’d also like to grow our relationship with the universities, as there are around four in Singapore now. NTU is the main one here and has an amazing student section. It’s probably one of the most thriving I would say. The other universities don’t really have IET student sections, and I would like to encourage them to,” Hayden highlights.
“We’re still considering ideas and are talking to a lot of people about this one idea that we’ll run some kind of inter-university competition.
“[However they end up,] we envisage that they’ll be at the other end of the scale from the Career Lounge events: much bigger, and lasting a whole day. We’re trying to do a real range of events for our younger members,” he concludes.
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