Teaching interns and fresh grads to succeed in the workplace

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This school helps its graduates overcome that false sense of importance and capability common to those just entering the work force.

For most young adults, the leap from campus life to the workplace is a challenging transition. New graduates fail to realize that it’s not how much they know that is important to an employer. But their understanding of how much they still have to learn—and their willingness to learn it that employers want to see, according to studies.

For this reason, early exposure to real-world situations in their chosen career paths boost the success of their graduates in the work place, observe professors at St. Paul University Quezon City. While a particular course prepares them to learn the required basic skills, the experience of dealing with “live” clients also instills in them the right learning attitudes early on, according to Guiomar Gutierrez, SPUQC’s Tourism program chairman.

A Tourism undergraduate at SPUQC, for instance, will have arranged and conducted a pilgrimage, a tour to Bohol with air, land and sea transfers as well as a foreign tour for flesh-and-blood customers, and not just case-study subjects, by the time he or she is fourth year. “That kind of experience allows us to show them how to serve clients,” she says. “After all, a service course is not just taught. We succeed in instilling a strong customer orientation among students by illustrating to them how it is done—one set of clients at a time.”

By the second term of their graduating year, tourism students are required to do a practicum for a firm in their industry. Consequently, many of the students usually have job offers by the time they leave school. All that on-the-job training will have taught them how to be realistic about what they can do and to overcome the folly of a false sense of importance and capability common to many graduates. By the time they leave the campus, they would have learned they need to work well with others in any organization to get the right results and that results matter the most.

This kind of orientation to real-life work situations has made the Tourism course, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and other service-oriented courses at SPUQC among the most popular. The students’ education is further supported by a host of learning laboratories in the school such as a mini hotel with rooms, a fully-equipped culinary center with its own function rooms for HRM students, a mock-up of an intensive care unit for nursing students, as well as TV and radio studios for mass communication pupils. All these further facilitate on the job training and learning.

The former all-girls college in the 60’s and ’70s has not only opened its doors to males but now also offers a wide range of courses drawing from its integration in 2004 into the St. Paul University System consisting of seven campuses nationwide. Sr. Ma. Nilda Masirag, president of the school, explains that the university system allows the sharing of human and other resources among the campuses. This, in addition to all its facilities, has helped the Quezon City campus take on the “vibrance of the bigger St. Paul University campuses in Iloilo, Dumaguete and Tuguegarao.”

But due to its prime location in the biggest business and commercial center of the country, Metro Manila, the Quezon City campus offers students unique experiences. The BS Entrepreneurship Course in the Quezon City university, for instance, has an edge over other campuses because its enrollees get to test their skills in a prime mall with an impressive number of shoppers visiting daily. For the past three years, St. Paul’s fledgling entrepreneurs have been selling their products at a Robinsons Land mall—Galleria in the first two years of the program, and at Robinson’s Magnolia just last February.

Lolita Albit, college faculty of Business Administration, explains that SPUQC third and fourth year students are required not just to source and sell goods but to also undergo the strict screening process all Robinsons’ merchants are subjected to. “The quality and appearance of their products are screened. They must also defend their price points,” she says. After a grueling one month of being on their feet personally to push their products to mall goers, the students are graded. Their score is based on their work attitudes as reflected by their attendance, and also by the net sales. Results, after all, are what matter.

“It’s a good first taste of an entrepreneur’s life for the students,” observes Albit. It’s also a good first step to being a life-long learner, a key trait of most successful entrepreneurs.

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