Reachable stars

Re-define education with Co-op@CUHK

CUHK’s new Co-operative Education Programme (Co-op@CUHK) is not a typical work placement programme. Launched in 2021–22, this university-wide co-operative education programme – the first in Hong Kong – uses a synergistic approach to achieve three goals at once: enhance students’ workplace readiness; meet employers’ talent needs; and strengthen CUHK’s connection with society.

What sets the programme apart is how it engages students, employers and the University in a novel and meaningful way.

Penultimate and final year CUHK students from all academic disciplines are matched with organisations in a range of sectors, such as financial services, fast-moving consumer goods, government agencies and innovative startups. Once selected, students will partake in six to eight months of credit-bearing, paid, full-time job placements while participating in CUHK’s co-curricular activities and coursework for capacity building. Besides gaining real-world experience, student can develop soft skills and professional networks. They can also experience different work environments and cultures, which can help inform their career choices after graduation.

“Joining the programme has exposed me to a variety of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Whether it’s through the challenges of Outward Bound training, the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired from industry veterans or the friends I’ve made along the way, I’m now ready to start my career with greater confidence and a support network,” said Jericho Principe, a student of computer science, who joined the first cohort of Co-op@CUHK.

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Voices of students taking part in Co-op@CUHK

Triple-win for CUHK, students and employers

Professor Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK said, “Co-op@CUHK goes above and beyond conventional internships. The immersive programme provides an enriching experience for students, giving them the opportunity to build up their soft skills, industry insights and professional networks while earning their degree. The programme also allows employers to develop their future pipeline of talent, strengthens the University’s industry engagement and contributes to the development of Hong Kong’s future economy.”

In addition, the programme collaborates with corporate partners to instil a strong sense of ethics and professionalism in students. As Professor Alan Chan, Provost of CUHK, explained, “The longer placement period will enable students to develop a sense of dedication and delight in their work. In doing so, we will foster a positive work culture and create an environment conducive to personal development, resulting in a stronger, more productive and more cohesive community.”

Equipping students with professional skills prior to work

To help students excel in their placements, Co-op@CUHK provides a variety of pre-employment and on-the-job courses. After attending training such as “Unlocking Employability Potential and Personal Branding” and “Developing Workplace Professionalism”, students continue taking courses during the two work terms and conduct continuous self-assessments. The goal is to ensure that industry expectations are aligned with students’ learning and that personal, professional and Co-op@CUHK goals are realised.

Well-structured learning approach (Source: Co-op@CUHK)

Preparing for excellence in the new world

Many well-established universities around the world have adopted the co-operative education system, including Drexel University in the US, the University of Waterloo in Canada and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Co-op@CUHK was developed by combining the best practices of leading co-op programmes with a strategic focus and creativity to ensure effectiveness in the Hong Kong setting and the world to come.

Figures at a glance (Source: Co-op@CUHK)

“To ensure that all participating students have what it takes to thrive in their placements, we have designed a series of capacity-building activities including pre-placement workshops, training courses and coaching sessions which will accelerate the students’ readiness for the workplace. Additionally, periodic evaluations by faculty members, employers and the students will guarantee that the programme benefits both employers and students,” said Professor Isabella Poon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of CUHK.

Dr. John Lai opined that students’ perseverance, tenacity and adaptability are what make them stand out among the crowds (Source: Co-op@CUHK)

“University students always ponder on how they can maximise what they have learnt to contribute to a meaningful career and life. Am I ready to excel in the world? Have I learnt from my experiences and translated these assets into competencies? Co-op@CUHK is created to provide students with valuable experience and skills that will help them on their journey of becoming constructive agents of change in society,” said Dr. John Lai, Director of the Office of Co-operative Education Programme.

Students interested in pursuing personal growth and professional advancement through Co-op@CUHK can apply at https://lnkd.in/gUHivKEd. Details of the programme features and the trailblazers’ sharing can be found in the brochure.

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