To serve and to learn

Rain Hui

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What do you think a part-time job means for university students? Simply earning a subsidy to support their studies? Definitely, there is more than money for participants in CityU's Service Learning Initiative (SLI)-they gain experience and skills that become assets for their future endeavors.

Launched in September 1998, SLI is a programme designed to enrich the educational experience of undergraduate students. To date, it has recruited 237 participants who have worked as part-time helpers in different university departments on campus or companies off campus. SLI applicants have to pass through two interviews and a training camp before being accepted as participants. This year, 33 new recruits were selected from 441 applicants. All successful applicants are strong in both academic and whole-person development. "They are really elite students from CityU," said Professor Edmond Ko, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education).

"It is very important that we gain employment experience before graduation. With SLI, there are many chances to work both on and off campus," said Ms Karen Hui, 2002 SLI member who worked as a summer intern at Carrier HK Limited. "Continuous assessment and feedback from employers help us identify our weaknesses and seek improvement. This is a feature that distinguishes it from other internship programmes."

"The various workplace situations broadened my horizons and increased my confidence to face future challenges," said Mr Mathew Chang, 2001 SLI member, who worked as a summer intern for Goldman Sachs L.L.C. and SchlumbergerSema in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Ms Victoria Street, Group Leader of Goldman Sachs L.L.C., was impressed with Mathew's hard work. "He has good attitude and professional skills. And, he is diligent and highly efficient at work," Ms Street remarked.

Before their first job assignment, all SLI members attend intensive training camps and workshops that help enhance their communication, interpersonal and management skills, and provide instruction in work ethics and executive etiquette, as well as how to manage time, finance and human resources. "The intensive training facilitated my personal development," said Mr Macro Wong, 2000 SLI member, who is now working as an Assistant Administrative Specialist in IBM. "I feel that all SLI members are more enterprising and proactive. We are different from most of the university graduates, in values of life and ways of thinking," he asserted.

Employers on and off campus are supportive of the scheme. They are appreciative of the capabilities and attitudes of SLI participants. "I was impressed by the SLI students who helped in promoting the Learning to Learn scheme to the first-year students in August 2003. They did their job in a professional manner and brought a positive influence to new students," said Dr Anna Kwan, Senior Education Development Officer, Education Development Office (EDO), who has been supporting SLI for five years.

Dr K K Leung, Associate Head of Department of Applied Social Studies, who has been employing SLI members for three years added, "I chose SLI students because they are well-trained, responsible, independent and conscientious."

"Hard working, flexible, dedicated and trustworthy"-that's how Professor Fred Williams, Professor (Chair) of Department of Building and Construction, appraised SLI members. Dr Kevin Downing, Senior Lecturer of Division of Social Studies, who started employing SLI students last year, also maintains that they are too quality students.

"SLI students are active and enterprising. They are more sincere and dedicated to their jobs than many temporary workers," said Mr Raymond Wong, Manufacturing Manager, Avery Dennison H. K. B.V., who has been recruiting SLI students for four years.

Another corporate recruiter, Ms Brenda Li, Personnel Manager, Schlumberger Technologies (Asia) Limited, who has just joined the scheme in the past summer, was impressed with the student's broad vision. "SLI students are willing to learn. They do not focus only on their own work but also take a holistic view and understanding of the development and operation of the whole company," she said.

SLI celebrates its fifth anniversary on 10 October. Past and present SLI participants, employers, Vice-Presidents, Faculty Deans and Department Heads, will gather at the City Top Restaurant to celebrate the occasion.

"We do not open the path for you, we assist you to open the path for yourselves," concluded Professor Ko, encouraging all SLI students to set their own goals for future career planning and preparation. "I hope that more students can successfully join this 'learning family'."



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