A ‘Day X’-ploring career options for graduating Crest Secondary School students
The Astronauts Collective partnered with the National Youth Council to bring Day X, a career exploration programme, to help these students discover more about various career prospects.
Rows of students sit on the school hall’s floor with their legs crossed and backs hunched. Instead of burying their heads in reading materials like every other morning, the graduating batch of Crest Secondary School begins their day with a career exploration programme.
At 16, most students would be unfamiliar with the diversity of the employment market, much less the gravity of certain job scopes. But the Secondary 4 students of this Specialised School for Normal Technical (SSNT) have to choose their preferred vocations for their ITE courses that begin the following year.
To help them make more informed decisions, The Astronauts Collective (TAC) partnered with the National Youth Council to bring Day X to Crest Secondary School last Friday.
TAC is a registered charity dedicated to helping youths explore the world of work and find meaningful careers. It first created Day X in 2018 to introduce students to careers such as software engineers and counsellors, among many others.
The co-founder of TAC, Wong Yi Fong, said the goal of this partnership was to support youths who may not have the networks, connections or resources to consult professionals for career advice. He added that as Crest Secondary School is an SSNT, TAC wanted to try their best to support them.
“While we don’t prescribe what makes careers meaningful, we do offer a point of view,” he shared, adding that he hopes these youths understand that a meaningful career goes beyond practical considerations like pay and working hours.
This idea was first introduced to them through a briefing, where they played warm-up games to answer career-related questions like: “What do you find most important in a job?”.
After the briefing, the students moved on to their first activity – Job Tasters. There, students got a “taste” of how two vastly different industry professionals contribute to society through hands-on activities.
Dewi Virianna Elvia, 16, chose to attend a Job Tasters session with a sustainability engineer and a journalist. While she aspires to be either an F1 engineer or driver, she is also considering a career as a reporter.
She said her biggest takeaway was listening to their personal motivations and challenges as it gave her insight into her potential future.
“It’s great to hear their own stories and experiences based on that. I think the most interesting thing was that I got to know the ups and downs, and the pros and cons of their jobs,” said Elvia.
Unlike Elvia, Samuel Elijah Foo and Lavinesh Subramaniam were not placed in the Job Tasters session they desired the most.
Samuel wishes to venture into the film and media industry while Laveniesh dreams of becoming a chef. Despite their aspirations, the 16-year-olds attended a session with a sustainability engineer and an e-commerce manager.
That said, both students still found the session fruitful.
Samuel said: “I find it very eye-opening because I was able to learn more about what the people do in their jobs and even get to try what they do.”
Lavinesh shared similar sentiments and said the session showed him another potential vocation. “It made me consider joining retail as I would be able to interact with customers,” he said, adding that he enjoys connecting with people.
Even though the students found this activity rewarding, they said it wasn’t exactly what they had expected.
Elvia said most of the activities were rather static as they were mostly sitting down and discussing. “When I envisioned ‘hands-on’, it was us working, standing up and moving around,” she said. She added that she wished they could have tried their hand at interviewing people and writing a short article for the journalist’s hands-on activity.
Though, she also acknowledged that there was a time constraint.
Ms Pearl Lee, 35, an ex-journalist who volunteered as a Job Taster professional, said they had limited time with the students. To make the session fulfilling, the professionals had to make the activities simple. As such, she created quizzes where students guessed the identities of people and the reasons behind publishing certain articles. Besides that, she also tasked them to write headlines.
“It’s not ideal. Of course, I would love to say take the kids out to a coffeeshop and let them actually try interviewing real people,” she said. “But we have to balance what we can do in those 40 minutes.”
Following the Job Tasters session was the Career Human Library, where students “borrowed Human Books” by joining various Zoom breakout rooms to speak to different professionals about their stories and experiences.
Though there were no hands-on activities, Samuel and Lavenish said they enjoyed this activity more. As this session was 75 minutes long, the professionals could go into greater detail about their professions and backstories.
Samuel shared that initially, he had only considered pursuing his passion for media in ITE. But the Career Human Library encouraged him to research more about the different art schools available, such as LASALLE College of the Arts.
Similarly, Lavenish was inspired after listening to an ACRES animal welfare caretaker speak about her experience working with animals. “I wouldn’t say (my plans for the future) changed but I would like to volunteer at ACRES to help animals,” he said.
For Elvia, technical difficulties made her experience less enjoyable. “Since it’s through Zoom, it can get really laggy,” she said. She added that while the Career Human Library was more in-depth and informative, she believes that making it a face-to-face session would’ve enhanced it.
Ms Pearl Lee said her own experience as a teenager taught her that teenagers can have a very narrow view of the world and may be unaware of the types of jobs available.
“It’s just not something that is front and centre of your mind when you’re a teenager,” she said.
“When I first heard about Day X, TAC and its mission, it resonated with me because I feel like I would’ve benefitted from such a service when I was a teenager,” she said. As Day X has a diverse range of industry professionals, she believes it is a great way to expand and broaden their worldviews, showing them they can incorporate their skills and interests in many jobs.
The principal, Mr Seet Tiat Hee, 56, said that Crest Secondary School is a hybrid academic-vocational school that prepares students to progress to ITE and aims to help their students taste success beyond academics.
“I hope that my students have an open mindset to learn beyond and know that the world out there is full of opportunities and full of areas that they may not realise exist,” he said.
“I really hope that through all the various activities, all the hands-on activities, all the experiential activities that they have, they can be more exposed and align their personal passion and interest with what they hope to do.”
For Elvia, she believes Day X will be very helpful for future batches to come. “It will help a lot for people who are uncertain of what path they would want to take in the future and how they would want to go towards it.”