Open the newspaper almost any day of the week and you will see stories about the increasingly tough job market for new graduates.
At RMIT Vietnam students actively begin preparing to enter the workforce from the time they begin their studies. The University's Career Development and Employment office provides a host of resources and guidance to help students build a career development plan, which is an essential part of making a successful transition from study to work.
Career Development and Employment Manager Nguyen Thi My Linh says there is good reason for this process to start in the student's first weeks at the University.
"We believe that the key point of contact for when students at RMIT should begin thinking about their opportunities, influences, and interests is at the very beginning.
"So if we are able to help them identify this early on, they will be able to access the Career Centre for support throughout their time at the university," she says.
At the University's Career Centre students can read books and access online resources where they are able learn about cover letter and resume writing, interview techniques and much more. Students also take part in the Workplace Preparation Program, a hands-on workshop that prepares them for the challenge of securing the internships that are part of their program of studies.
Nguyen says the program has been developed over a number of years to assist students who usually have no experience in a real working environment, particularly with international companies. "It was imperative students knew how to not only apply for the jobs, but they needed to learn about how to recognise and talk about the skills they had developed along the way."
However, getting their foot in the door is really the end of a process that begins first with the student identifying what it is they actually want to do. RMIT Vietnam Career Counsellor Phoenix Ho describes this initial process as one of listening to the students and asking questions to prompt them to think about their future.
"I also help students explore who they are, the factors that influence them the most, their values, and their life goals," she says.
"Eventually, based on their discovery of self and the environment in which they belong, students slowly discover their career path."
Ho herself came to career counselling after a period of reflection and self-discovery. After originally completing a business degree she decided on her true calling and later earned a Master Degree in Education Leadership and Management from RMIT University, and a second Master Degree in Counselling, Career Development from Santa Clara University in the United States.
She says her passion is to enable students to discover their vocational calling and follow their dreams. Ho is also beginning her Ph.D. research on the impact of parents on the career decisions of Vietnamese youth and how it may influence their career satisfaction and personal happiness.
"Career development starts with self-awareness, which leads to researching for possible jobs that match with their interests and skills which leads to networking yourself into the position or company via informational interviewing, interning, joining the management trainee program, or applying for a job," she says.
"Also, there is no one perfect job, like there is no one perfect partner. There are no mistakes, only learning in this journey."