Throughout my years as a student, I have noticed a trend amongst us students, both here in Hong Kong and in South Africa. Students are unquestionably all shameless paper-pushing grade-chasers. What do I mean by this? I mean simply that we as students often place too much focus on what marks we get for our assignments or tests as opposed to focusing on bettering ourselves through the skills and knowledge that we could gain from the work. It is of course obvious that you cannot get into that cushy job in a blue chip company without those sky-scraping grades, but will you necessarily be able to do the job once you get there?
I think it is about time for a panoramic shift in the way we nerds think. My small contribution to that shift is to introduce you to a number of out-of-class (and free) learning opportunities, where the focus is all on the skills and not on the grades.
International Putonghua Club
One of the most valuable skills a young professional in any field of work can possess these days is language skills. That statement is even truer for Mandarin Chinese (called Putonghua in China).
However, language training and materials are not cheap to come by, and not everyone can fit a full language course in with the rest of his or her course load. Thankfully, the guys from the International Putonghua Club have thought of it all.
This exciting club provides the willing student with 2 hours of one-on-one Mandarin Chinese language tutoring for a student with any level of proficiency. Classes take place on Friday afternoons, and no prior booking is required. Just rock up and start learning!
For specific details regarding times and venues, please visit their website: http://ipc.lt.cityu.edu.hk/.
CityU English Debating Team/CityU Putonghua Debating Team
The way I see it, there are only two possible approaches to public speaking. In the first, the whole room hushes as you stand up and deliver your powerful and eloquent speech that leaves the audience in a state of rapture, as they never knew that a presentation on the latest practices in accounting could be made that inspiring. In the second, you awkwardly click through your PowerPoint slides in a race to finish as your audience members gradually start dying of boredom.
The difference between the two approaches is that in the first the speaker had extensive practice and opportunities to polish his or her public speaking and debating skills. Thankfully, such opportunities and training are in abundance at CityU. Simply join the English or Putonghua Debating Team, and bam! You will instantly stop sounding like Angela Merkel when you give speeches.
For more information on joining, practice times and venues, see the Debating Team’s website: http://www.cityu.edu.hk/ctspc/cityu_edt.html.
Career and Leadership Centre, Student Development Services
The folks at the SDS Career and Leadership Centre do some really great work on our campus. Their main goal is to make your sorry behind more employable. Besides their other functions such as assisting students in finding internships, on-campus employment and the like, they also provide periodic workshops on various employment-seeking skills such as CV drafting assistance and training, interview skills workshops … and the list continues.
The Centre usually informs students of these opportunities via CityU email, but more information can be found on its website: http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/caio/city-u/studentyear1planRevised.asp.
In-Class Learning Opportunities
Thus far, I have stuck to formal clubs and pathways to extra-curricular learning, but in the daily life of the CityU student many opportunities present themselves for the keen learner to better him or herself. It would be impossible for me to provide an exhaustive list of those opportunities here, so I will briefly mention two broad categories.
Class representatives. In your high school days, class representatives were those suck-ups who wanted a few extra merit points and the occasional pat on the head. However, at CityU the situation is quite different. As part of a democratic institution, our class representatives are the voice of the student body. Their purpose is to represent students on a day-to-day basis, keeping score of their grievances and acting as the voice, eyes and ears of the students on various committees and boards. If you are looking for some hands-on leadership training, then do not hesitate to nominate yourself when your faculty calls for class representatives. Oh, and it will look good on your CV too.
Committees, boards and workgroups. As there are many different faculties and schools at CityU, specificity is nigh-on-impossible. However, I will try to highlight the opportunities available in broad brushstrokes. Throughout the academic year, various opportunities present themselves for involvement in workgroups and committees, allowing you to become an active participant in discussions and/or projects. These opportunities provide the keen student with invaluable experience not only on the task at hand, but also in the formal procedures and conclusions of meetings. They also provide students with a chance to improve their teamwork and argumentation skills.
This list is by no means exhaustive. At best, it offers a small peek at the extra-curricular learning opportunities that CityU offers students. The best advice that I can give you is to explore those opportunities that interest you and keep your eyes peeled for additional opportunities by regularly checking your email and CAP postings.
“People have to be educated, but they also have to be left to educate themselves.” – Abbé Dimnet