Practical experience in your field of interest is a crucial part of a strong graduate school application. Aim to combine rigorous coursework with meaningful activities outside of the classroom that will help you build relevant skills, enhance your knowledge and shape a compelling personal narrative. Below are several ways to build practical experience in preparation for graduate school. Discuss with your CIPE advisor to determine the most appropriate path for your interests and goals.
Working at an organisation is a good opportunity to gain real-world professional experience, develop useful skills and glean the day-to-day realities of a given profession or industry. Note that the length of commitment, your contributions and learning matter much more than whether the opportunity was paid or unpaid. Sometimes, volunteering might be the only way to gain professional experience in certain fields before you graduate.
If you are interested in a research Master’s or PhD, you must show that you have engaged in meaningful research over an extended period. Your capstone project, long-term research attachments on and off-campus, external research internships and fellowships are all excellent ways to gain such experience. They also allow you to expand your professional network and connect with potential recommenders.
If you have ideas for a project that does not neatly fit within the above categories, consider pursuing it on your own or through a programme or competition that supports original projects. An experience of your own making can be just as valuable for your learning and growth as any structured internship.
Joining a club or organisation with a professional focus is another good way to gain relevant practical experience. Long-term commitment and an increasing level of responsibility in the organisation will build up your confidence and skill set, and reflect positively on your graduate school application. Remember that there are opportunities to get involved beyond Yale-NUS too, and that they may enable you to make an even greater impact.
Attending and/or presenting in a formal setting allows you to share your accomplishments with a broader community, tap on the expertise of others and expand your network in your field of interest. This, in turn, may lead to valuable professional advice, fruitful collaborations and new mentorship opportunities. Conferences and presentations are also important components of a research CV – they show that you are keen to make a greater impact with your work by sharing it with an audience of fellow professionals.
If you would like to present original or co-authored work as part of a conference, festival, performance, exhibition or publication, consider applying for funding through the Student External Presentation Award (SEPA). For more information, visit the SEPA guidelines HERE.
If you would like to attend a conference either to present your work, or for professional development only, consider applying for individual travel funding through the Dean of Students Office. For more information, visit the DOS Funding page HERE.