My name is Lee Min Han and I am a student currently waiting for my tertiary education this year. I was given the opportunity to participate in Career & Education 2013 under biipmi Pte Ltd from 1st to 3rd March 2013 and I would like to take this opportunity to express what I had learnt from this event.
When I was asked to supervise and manage part of the company’s booth in this fair, needless to say, I was taken aback. I put time aside to consider this and I realised that it was not long before I would have completed my education and be put into the working world. As a student, my thoughts have primarily been about studies and entertainment; nothing specific about my future plans. So since it was a CAREER FAIR, why not take this opportunity to try it out and expose myself to whatever I can learn regarding work in future?
To begin with, I will briefly explain about biipmi Pte Ltd and my role there. biipmi (which stands for Branding Individualised Interactive Portfolios through Marketing Innovations) is an online employability enhancement platform. Its aim is to address issues faced by individuals regarding employment, namely in gaining, retaining, retraining and regaining employment via their online platform. Users would be able to document their resumes and portfolios on this platform to concretise their experiences that will help in their job hunting. This was quite a mouthful for me to take in, but clearly a good place for me to get started since, in essence, it is about the job searching process. My role during the fair was to introduce people to this system and to manage our crew, which sounded simple enough of a task.
During the three days event, I met and interacted with a wide spectrum of people and felt this was the biggest takeaway for me. As I explained to each person about our system, I learnt from some about their different backgrounds. There were people of different ages, from as young as still being in secondary school to as old as in their fifties; and also a range of nationalities – Singaporeans, Indonesians, Chinese and so on. I could have been talking to somebody of my age or younger but of different nationality and I could see a big difference in attitude; with him being eager to take on a job while I was more eager to continue with my studies. This got me thinking: perhaps I am taking my situation for granted as I have definitely never put any thought into taking up a full-time career at the moment, delaying it by saying ‘after my studies’. Yet, there I was meeting somebody who has had the same amount of time but was already geared up and ready to start.
There was another way to categorise the audience too: those who were currently jobless and those with a job. The first group was enthusiastic, looking around the entire fair (I had to walk around as one of my tasks) and taking up every opportunity they could if they felt it would help them land a job. These were people who were more willing to try out biipmi, taking the chance to have another option available especially since biipmi is catered towards helping them brand themselves to stand out in this tough competition. Again, the difference in how eager and determined one is to find a job was clear.
Yet it was the latter group that was of greater interest to me. Why would you want to come to a fair about careers if you already have a job? After interacting with them, I discovered that their reasons were actually in line with biipmi’s mission, “Inspiring people to care about their lifelong employability”. biipmi makes a distinction between employMENT and employABILITY, two words which look similar but hold different meanings. Employment is what this group currently had; their present job. Employability however, is for continuum, a relative term where it is a measure of how likely somebody is able to get a job against his competitors both now and in future. Their reasons for attending the fair included possible fears of unemployment, looking around the market for options in a career path change and looking around at their competitors, most of which have this idea of being forward-looking in their careers. Apparently, the notion of “One job until retirement” which I had heard of when young was not as relevant as I had thought it would be.
Gathering my crew at the end of the day, I managed to hear about their experiences as well. There were those who were unmotivated to improve themselves to get a job, such as picking up technological skills. In addition, some were in line with my train of thought, that “I already have a job so I am not interested”. With the government continuously advocating “Staying relevant”, perhaps these were the ones who would be faced with difficulties should the economy shift against their favour. However I was glad to hear that my crew was able to convince some of these people to open up to different views when explaining about our biipmi platform.
In this short span of three days, I already have to question whatever rough ideas I had of my career path; on the feasibility of sticking to one employer for life; the ease with which I would be able to land my job given the competition; and lastly that it was something to think about in the “far” future. This complacent attitude and tendency to procrastinate would greatly hamper my employability, which unfortunately for me is extremely relevant really soon. As such, I am glad that I was given this chance to experience and learn more about employability and careers via biipmi Pte Ltd while it is still early before I eventually enter the workforce.