By Freda Peh
A social venture aimed at improving the employability of youths and the underprivileged in Singapore has brought final-year Nanyang Business School (NBS) student, Lim Kai Ning, to the Young ASEAN+3 Social Entrepreneurs in Action conference held this week in Bangkok, Thailand.
Lim is one of five co-founders of CareerSocius. It started as an initiative to improve the employability of youth and the underprivileged in Singapore and has grown into a project that now conducts career workshops and offers resume editing services to job seekers.
Lim, 23, is NTU’s sole representative and one of four youth ambassadors from Singapore selected to attend the conference. Co-organised by the National Youth Council and Thailand’s Department of Children and Youth, the five-day programme aims to build a network of youth social entrepreneurs in ASEAN, China, Japan and Korea.
Lim founded CareerSocius last May with her schoolmates: final-year NBS students Bertrand Wong, 25, Boon Yu Pei, 23, Goh Duo Geng, 25, and ex-NTU student Wong Jing Yao, 25.
Originally launched as a resume editing service on Carousell, the social enterprise expanded its community outreach efforts last November through resume and interview workshop for underprivileged youths in conjunction with the Toa Payoh East-Novena Edusave Merit Bursary Awards Presentation Ceremony.
“The team received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from attendees, with 70 percent of them expressing interest in future workshops held by CareerSocius”, Lim said.
She also added: “Participants were most keen on tailored, one-on-one workshops such as the Personalised Resume & Interview Skills Workshop.”
CareerSocius is currently in talks with 20 Youth Executive Committees (YEC) under the People’s Association to develop more of such workshops.
They include a Resume and Interview Skills workshop in collaboration with Punggol Vista Community Centre this March, and a Career Exploration workshop which covers content such as resume crafting and online job search for youths.
The team received $10,000 in funding last year from NTU’s CoLab4Good, an initiative supporting young, sustainable businesses with positive social impact. They are also looking to support their foray into the industry with an additional grant of $20,000 from the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE).
On representing Singapore at the youth social entrepreneurs conference in Bangkok, Lim said: “Being nominated means people see how CareerSocius adds value to society. It is a huge encouragement for us.”
The inspiration behind CareerSocius stemmed from her desire to improve people’s lives at work.
“A purposeful career is essential to a good life. Nobody can escape working. Yet most cannot find their passion,” she said.
As the first phase in job applications, Lim and her team believe offering help on resume and cover letter editing is the most effective way for them to serve job seekers. The team also helps their clients craft their resumes by tailoring their personal statements to their desired job positions.
Their initiative has since benefited some 200 people through one-on-one training sessions and workshops. “I managed to secure an interview with Uber and am most grateful,” one Carousell client said. Another workshop participant also added that he “enjoyed the interactive games and videos shown” presented by the team.
Running a social enterprise in the final year of school is no easy feat. Lim, who specialises in Human Resource, said that she has had to prioritise her clients over schoolwork.
“They are looking for a job, and my efforts potentially contribute to whether or not they get that job. Because of that, I work on their resumes (before) my assignments,” she said.
This is not her first time spearheading a social initiative. Previously she co-chaired MAXAR, a community initiative by Hall of Residence 8’s Special Project Committee to help the elderly in activities of daily living and special needs children in science enrichment programmes.
Presently, she volunteers for NTU’s Peer Helping Programme, connecting distressed students in need of counselling with the University Wellbeing Centre.
Co-founder Goh said, “Kai Ning has the strongest social emphasis (and) most empathy among us. We came into this business to realise her vision.”
Like Lim, Goh does his own share of volunteering.
He has helped students through the Career Affairs Office (CAO) on an informal basis for more than two years, and will conduct the team’s upcoming workshops in collaboration with CAO — a Business Fundamentals Workshop on 19 Feb, and a Case Fundamentals Workshop on 5 Mar.
Said CAO career consultant Esther Peh: “(The team is) innovative, creative and very giving. They contribute to a community of underprivileged students. And they have a lot of empathy — rare in youths nowadays.”
She added: “I don’t think they started with the aim of getting recognition. Their heart to serve makes a difference to the community in Singapore.”
Having just learnt about NTU’s homegrown social enterprise, final-year Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student Teo Teck Chye said: “I think (CareerSocius) is a great platform for engineering students. We are not as proficient in writing and it helps us stand out from other applicants.”
Moving forward, CareerSocius will explore creating structured learning content, automating parts of the resume editing process and refining their pedagogy to better serve their clients.