The transition from campus life to the world of work is always a significant step, so the Chinese University (CUHK) does everything possible to ensure students are suitably prepared to take that move in their stride.
In part, the CUHK does it by providing a wealth of career advice and practical assistance to guide students through the technicalities of the application and interview process. But, as importantly, it is done by promoting the concept of all-round development, encouraging undergraduates to make the most of the time and vast range of opportunities they have to better themselves and broaden their horizons.
"The university's mission is to facilitate whole-person development and my office's role is to help with the non-formal education that gives soft skills, overseas exposure and experiential learning," says Raymond Leung, CUHK's director of student affairs.
He explains that the career-planning cycle starts in year one, with information about the process and activities to help students understand themselves and the corporate world.
They might attend, for example, a self-image workshop, led by a professional consultant, to identify personal strengths and weaknesses. Other seminars focus on internships, resume writing, job-search tools or how to come across well in an interview.
"We also arrange visits to companies and on-campus talks by employers, which attract a lot of interest," Leung says. "As we want students to gain cultural exposure, language proficiency and interpersonal skills, we make a point of providing off-shore internships and overseas exchanges under our global programme."
These initiatives allow several hundred students a year to spend a summer working for major international employers in cities such as Singapore, Sydney or London. Besides that, they have the chance to spend up to a full academic year taking courses at one of CUHK's many partner universities around the world.
"These programmes are another way for our students to have a meaningful and diverse university education, which does not necessarily lead to a job where they are only thinking about the monetary rewards," Leung says. "In the wider context, a career is only one aspect. And if you focus on self-enhancement and have the right mindset, the final-year decisions become easier."
About 90 per cent of CUHK's graduates usually go straight into full-time work, with the remainder beginning advanced studies or moving overseas. Education Bureau surveys also show that local employers think very highly of the performance of CUHK recruits.
Leung's six-person team arranges mock interview workshops, career counselling and dry runs of the assessment tests used by employers. Students can also use volunteer mentors from major organisations for advice on specific job functions and the pros and cons of different corporate environments.
"We also tell students to remember they have a long working life ahead," Leung says. "Whatever they choose now, the demands and environment will change, so they should continue to develop themselves and think about going into new fields."