The term has almost come to an end. A mere two weeks remain on the schedule. In these two weeks though, your student teams will be very busy with many assignments and tests, and in our professional communication course, preparing for and then presenting your project proposals for change in some area of the NUS curriculum.
As you know (but I mention for visitors), the project aim is for each student team to follow up the needs analysis research you have done on those communication skills required in a particular workplace and the current communication skill offerings in a related degree program area at NUS and to suggest a plan of action that might assist a specific faculty (school) or department to better prepare its undergraduates for their future. In your 20-minute presentation, you need to convince the (fictitious) NUS Excellence Unit of the soundness of your ideas, explaining why a change is needed and how it might benefit various stakeholders at the university, justifying any of your claims with your secondary and original research findings.
In our most recent tutorial session we discussed presentation preparation tips from the Presentation Zen website created by former Apple employee Garr Reynolds. Hopefully, our review of those tips will aid you in your work for the coming weeks.
With this presentation assignment (and maybe our discussion of Apple) in mind, Deenise, a student in Group 2, posted a free blog post that shares the speech that Apple founder Steve Jobs gave at a recent Stanford University commencement ceremony. In that speech, Jobs recalls three stories from his own life. One of these demonstrates how the choices a person makes each and every day can impact unforeseen future outcomes. What's especially wonderful about the speech is that it also highlights Jobs' own success on a path less taken, as a college drop out.
I find this inspirational because it shows that it's not just hard work and a commitment to one's values that are important, but also a certain daring. In fact, Jobs ends his speech with a related phrase taken from the back of the last volume of The Whole Earth Catalog, one of the hippie bibles from the 1960s and 70s that in its content and ambition was symbolic of "out of the box thinking." The phrase Jobs quotes is this: "stay hungry, stay foolish."
Stay hungry. Stay foolish. How might these imperatives serve students at Stanford University, and at the National University of Singapore? In my view, "stay hungry" means you don't necessarily have to settle for what satiates you first, for what comes easiest. By staying hungry, you keep alert and always on the move, eyes and ears open for something new, for knowledge, for opportunity.
"Stay foolish" implies that you should keep your child-like nature, stay in awe. Don't be afraid to amble. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars. There's also a hint in this phrase of the idea that you shouldn't lose sight that since you're on earth for a very short time, you should make your best effort each day in doing what you enjoy. If you can make what you enjoy your life's work, so much the better.
How might these words of wisdom connect to the last couple weeks of the semester and the work ahead? I'd say you (we) should look at what remains as an opportunity, a chance for further growth, another couple enjoyable lessons in the school of life, and a chance for our unique groups to share what we have found, a common cause, clear shared goals and certain camaraderie. What do you think?