As a student, I have always been fascinated by the theories and concepts that are taught in my classes. However, as I approach graduation and prepare to enter the workforce, I have come to realize that the real world is much different than the classroom.
Through the insightful discussions I had on the mentorship hike across Fort Caning Park, one recurring point that was brought up revolved around the practical, real world, experience. Despite the vast amount of theoretical knowledge I have gained through my studies, I have come to realize that I lack practical experience in many interests which I may wish to pursue in the future. Very often, theories and concepts may be presented in a clear and direct manner, failing to highlight the complexity of challenges and crises in the real world. The lack of opportunity I have had to apply many of these theoretical concepts in a real-world setting, in addition to the urging of one mentor to grasp every opportunity for experience, has made me realize the importance of incorporating hands on learning within the educational system.
Having voluntarily dedicated one year of my studies this year to organize the St. Gallen Symposium, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the various dimensions which compose the professional world. Fundamental skills such as how to conduct a meeting, event organization and sustaining connects have provided me with hands-on experiences, which build upon the theoretical foundation I have gained from lectures. Creating a cycle of growth and improvement as the interlinking nature of theory and skills can be applied back into further development and success in the workplace.
Cross-generational Dialogue and Exchange
One of the most important learnings that I have gained from the mentorship hikes, is the importance of cross-generational dialogue. Having had the opportunity to talk with mentors from different age groups and industries, I have come to realize that everyone has their own unique perspective and set of experiences. Through open and honest communication during my work and studies, I have been able to learn from my older colleagues, while also sharing my own insights and experiences with them. This has helped to bridge the gap between generations and has made me a more well-rounded professional.
Cultural Understanding and Friendship
In addition to the importance of practical experience and cross-generational dialogue, the benefits of experiencing and learning from different cultures also arose as a takeaway from the hike. Throughout this year, I have had the opportunity to work with colleagues from all over the world, and I have come to realize that there is so much to learn from people from different backgrounds. Their perspectives and ways of thinking have greatly enriched my own understanding of the world and have helped me to become a more well-rounded individual.
For example, I remember when I first arrived in Singapore last October, it was a little bit difficult to grasp the cultural nuances, but as the time passed, I saw how much I can learn from those around me and how they can help me to develop my skills and knowledge. Over the past couple months, I have learned about different approaches to problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. This was emphasized during the hike, as the different perspective of the mentors helped me to see things from a different angle and to be more open-minded to different opportunities.
Taking A Step Back
During the final walk back of the hike, a discussion I had particularly stuck with me. The mentor mentioned the importance of taking a step back from the constant need to achieve further professional success and taking time to spend with loved ones. While it is important to strive for success in our professional lives, it is also important to remember that life is about more than just work. It is about the relationships that we build, the memories that we make, and the time that we spend with those who we love.
Overall, upon reflection after the SMC hike, I have come to realize the importance of practical experience, cross-generational dialogue, the benefits of learning from different cultures, and the importance of taking a step back and valuing the people and experiences that truly matter in life. These are lessons that I will carry with me as I enter the workforce and I hope that they will be valuable to others as well. Practical experience is essential for professional development and growth, and it is something that should not be overlooked in the pursuit of success.