Singapore Management University

How we equipped SMU’s students with the right mindset, skills and tools to take on challenges working in a startup environment
Focus Areas
Accelerator Program, Virtual Workshops

At the Singapore Management University (SMU), both local and international students receive the opportunity to gain professional skills and experience in fast-moving startups across the globe.

However, SMU had received feedback from some of their partnering startups that their students could have been better prepared with the knowledge and soft skills needed to meet the challenges of working at a startup.

The challenge: Transforming business students into entrepreneurs

To address this, SMU sought out NewCampus to deliver a series of workshops, led by experienced entrepreneurs, that would equip SMU’s students with the right mindset, skills and tools to take on challenges working in a startup environment.

The solution: Virtual experiential learning with industry leaders

A small cohort of SMU students participated in a sprint of virtual workshops over 6 weeks, learning key critical thinking and problem-solving skills from entrepreneurs and business leaders from Asia.

How we designed the learning experience:

  • We curated our instructors from our network entrepreneurs who are at the top of their game, leading high-performing startups and agencies. They’d provide learners access to knowledge and skills that have been tested and trialed in the industry.
  • We integrated collaborative and experiential learning in our workshops. Socio-cognitive interactions like these are key in building strong foundations in soft skills (such as creative thinking and problem-solving), and it keeps learners cognitively engaged to aim for a deeper understanding of the content.
  • We set clear learning objectives and include practical tools and frameworks that the learners can immediately apply in the workplace. Principally, the learners should feel well-equipped to take on the challenges of being an entrepreneur.

The results: Social learning boosts creativity and curiosity

Overall, the students rated the virtual experience with an average score of 8.7 out of 10, and 8 out of 10 students said they were very likely to recommend the workshops to other students.

The students said they gained a better understanding of:

  • Knowing how to stretch their thinking and creativity for problem-solving
  • Practical know-how in using the latest digital tools to solve common business problems

The best part of class? Students voted:

  • The hands-on learning with other students to internalise new concepts
  • Case studies that were relevant and relatable to prepare them for working at startups
  • The sharing of stories and personal experiences of the instructors as entrepreneurs

Lessons learned

The instructor’s real-world experience strengthens their ability to engage learners' attention and challenge their thinking.

Apart from designing and optimising content that answers SMU's needs, our focus is ultimately on the end-users: youthful university undergraduates who may not have much real-world experience in entrepreneurship, but are eager to learn.

To make the learning experience engaging and effective, it was important for us to curate instructors who are not only good at what they do, but are able to facilitate learning as a teacher and encourage the students to think critically and independently as tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

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