Three groups of RMIT Vietnam students recently took part in a project which allowed them to raise awareness of sustainability issues while also enhancing their soft skills.
The project, called Plant the Seed, was part of RMIT’s Personal Edge co-curricular program which aims to enable students to develop the right skills to impress future employers.
Nguyen Ngoc Anh, from RMIT’s Careers, Alumni & Industry Relations department at Hanoi campus, oversaw the project.
“Our students learn those critical skills through a number of ways,” Ms Ngoc Anh said, referring to the Personal Edge program’s core skill sets of creative thinking, teamwork, leadership, digital citizenship, career strategies and communication skills.
“The Plant the Seed project was an example of project-based learning, rather than merely attending a workshop.”
The participating students first received training in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) from KOTO, the charity organisation which trains disadvantaged youths in the restaurant industry. The students then implemented green business ideas to raise money to build a library at Phu Dong School in the Province of Ba Vi, 60 kilometres from Hanoi.
Hoang Thi Minh Thu, a Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) student, was a member of the group which created and sold reusable shopping bags.
“To be honest, we started with no experience, [nothing] but our kindness and passion,” she said.
“We met many problems throughout the time we were planning and making these shopping bags because we were inexperienced people. Thanks to this initiative though, we have gained a lot of experience… and from that, soft skills like teamwork, self-motivation, creativity and risk-taking were also developed.”
Ms Ngoc Anh noted that Plant the Seed was meant to highlight the importance of such skills, which complement what students learn in the classroom.
“They start everything from scratch, so they practice what they learn in their classes about business, marketing plans and digital communications,” she said.
“They build up a proposal, they set up distribution channels, and for the reusable shopping bag group, they designed the bags themselves and found suppliers to manufacture the bags.”
Nguyen Quoc Dai, a Bachelor of Business (Logistics & Supply Chain Management) student, was a member of the group that sold potted plants. While selling the plants at RMIT’s Hanoi campus, he found that fellow students were equally enthusiastic towards environmental protection.
He also appreciated the skills acquired through the experience.
“After five days of selling the product, in addition to two weeks of preparation, our team learned many soft skills,” he said.
“We also agreed that teamwork is one of the most important skills that not only applies during our classes at school, but also in the real project that we did together.”
This was the first iteration of Plant the Seed at RMIT, but Ms Ngoc Anh believes it won’t be the last.
“I have been engaged with industry and I know their expectations of fresh graduates,” she explained.
“Their degree is as important as their employability skills, so I’m very happy that the students have a platform to learn by doing, and also so they can inspire the community to live green.”
Story: Michael Tatarski