Life during lockdown can be overwhelming. This new way of life presents many challenges and opportunities for learning and personal development. As universities around the world have shut their doors and moved instruction online, students have begun to cope with a new way of life and an uncertain career future. In this career advice series, we will explore how students around the world can continue their academic and professional development. We will speak with professionals to produce country-specific advice on how you can plan your next steps on your academic and career journeys.
We spoke with Sipim Sornbalang, PROWIBO Asia Representative and Programs Coordinator about how students in Thailand can continue their academic and professional development in the age of COVID-19.
What online materials/resources are available to students?
Actually, there are plenty of online materials/resources available to students.
The most basic online resource is “Google” where you can find as much information as you want. Moreover, materials like books, articles, journals can be also reached online through universities’ services.
How can students continue learning in the absence of face-to-face teaching?
In my country, students continue learning via various platforms; ie, Zoom, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live, etc. However, many instructors found out that it was quite hard for students to keep concentrated likewise in the classroom as they might be very easily distracted. So, asking students to turn on their webcams could at least help verify the students who are attending classes.
How can students work on their professional skills (soft skills) from home?
Students can work on their professional skills from home by using technology to enhance their skills. For example, they might start looking for an online course, or information which could develop their ability in creativity, communication, critical thinking, etc. Besides, because students could not go out to meet each other in real life but they could have an online meeting in order to discuss among themselves whenever they are requested to work as a group.
What career advice resources are available to students?
What online career opportunities are available to students?
I would recommend using LinkedIn, Facebook, and online newspapers. In my country, there are online group chats at each university, which can spread career opportunities for graduating students and many students could get jobs from following this group chat.
What online volunteer opportunities are available to students?
The biggest platforms that I could think about in my country are Facebook and LINE. Students can become online volunteers so as to help others or to do any project relating to social engagement. For example, to raise funds, to help particular local organizations.
What steps should graduating students be taking right now to prepare them to enter the job market?
Graduating students should first, ask yourself what is your passion then plan your lives and what kind of career you are looking for and find as much as information about that career in order to understand its nature, career path, and all related aspects of that career.
Second, examine yourself and answer what are your strengths and weaknesses. Think about your strengths and transform them into your outstanding qualifications. Then, prepare yourself by improving your weak points. You can also learn more about soft skills, so that you will be more interesting for the interviewers. For example, critical thinking, adaptability, and communication, languages.
Third, research the positions and organizations that interest you. Learn more about their background, history, organization structure, policies, etc. That way you are able to answer questions related to that organization in an interview. This can show that you know about that organization and you are the right person to work with them.
Fourth, learning how to write a good resume will increase more opportunities for you to be called by the interviewer. Therefore, start writing a resume and consider if it is structured well enough to spread over to your target companies.
What online networking opportunities are available to students?
How should students approach searching for career opportunities now? In 6 months?
Most students start looking for jobs while they are studying at 4th year. They are quite familiar with searching through Google and in some local websites. Some students may use applications like Linked, JobDBs, JobBKK, etc. However, the quicker you start looking for a job, the more time you will be able to learn more about each position and company.
How should students contact potential employers about employment opportunities?
Communication is always the key to success. So, if you are contacting a potential employer, you have to use appropriate language– especially when you are asking about employment opportunities. Avoid using words that come across as too requesting or blaming. I recommend that you keep humble and use as many polite words as you can.
Do you have any other advice?
There are three things which students have to keep in mind if they really want to enter the job market.
- Information: Have all information in hand before you go to interview
- Communication: Use proper language & appropriate words. Whenever you have to answer question, speak clearly, concisely, and confidently
- Modern manners and etiquettes are very important. If you know how to dress, how to be mannered, you will be able to create a positive impression, which increases your employability.
Sipim Sornbanlang received her PhD and MPS. in International Relations from Chulalongkorn University, while earlier obtaining a BA in English from Chiang Mai University. She has extensive experience working in the public and private sector, with companies and government agencies, and more recently has entered academia as a lecturer at Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok.
Over the past couple of years, Sipim has served as a guest lecturer and moderator at many workshops and seminars dealing with migration, security issues for migrant workers, human trafficking, and globalization and its effects on countries and people living in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries. Sipim grew up in a rural community in northern Thailand and this experience has helped foster a deep commitment to improving human rights and human security issues; by promoting the political rights of women and migrant workers. One of Sipim’s goals is to help reduce or hopefully eliminate poverty in Thailand and in other parts of the world. Much of Sipim’s work revolves on finding practical ways to improve the standard of life for people, especially for underrepresented minorities. Currently, Sipim is working to expand Prowibo’s presence in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to bring quality educational experiences to students in rural areas.