Why Applying for Jobs Isn't About You


Why Applying for Jobs Isn't About You

If you're anything like me, you've been here. Spending a Saturday night, scrolling through jobs sites, searching "engineering internships Sydney" and going through Facebook jobs groups. Perhaps not engineering but you see my point. This was me a few years ago but after getting into entrepreneurship and creating this venture there are a lot of parallels and lessons that can be imparted on to job applications too. This is for everyone regardless of whether you are in university, graduated or been working for many years. This article will explain a new way to look at the job hunting and application process (granted this probably isn't a new concept but this is my personal take on it).

The eternal struggle of job hunting!

The eternal struggle of job hunting!

The Traditional Job Hunt

First of all, lets look at how we currently apply for jobs. Backtrack a few years and I would have been doing it this. Generally, you have a field in mind because you are either studying it or aspiring to be in that position so you search for job titles with that desired field.

For example, when I was going for mechanical engineering internships that's exactly what I searched. Eventually, when I exhausted all those options, I looked through any engineering internships that might be somewhat related to me and that I felt like I had the skill to do such as mechatronics, electrical, manufacturing etc.

Now for the actual application I had a standard resume and I used it over and over again with the slight modifications to fit the job. The cover letter was similar, like my HSC English essay I changed the introduction and conclusion keeping the body the same.

(Anyone just get a wave of HSC memories hit them?) Then you tried to show that you belonged ( I'm sorry I couldn't resist, for context, this was the topic for HSC English Area of Study) to the company using keywords from the job description. 

Usually big companies will have a Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which will scan through the bulk of resumes to check for keywords and spelling errors. Next you go into the interview or assessment centre phase which could be repeated a few times and the final selection is made.

Help others and others will help you.

Help others and others will help you.


During this whole process you are attempting to convince the hiring manager and convince them that you have the skills, attitude and competence. You are already coming from an angle where you are asking for something: you want the job, you think you'll make a good fit, you can thrive and do well. You, you, YOU.

I may be slightly exaggerating but think about your last interview, how much did you talk about yourself? Sure they are asking you to talk about yourself because they want to get to know you but there are opportunities to turn this around. 

This is what Is what I'm trying to get at. When you apply for a job, it's not about YOU getting a job. It's about the company finding the right person to help them meet their goal. What does the company or hiring manager care about, how can you help them?

There is nothing but one lesson in this article and that is that you should be constantly asking yourself: "How can I help the other person?" and when you work it out, do it.

It's really easy too. All you have to do is forget what you want and focus on the other person. Have a pure focus in your listening and see what you can do to help them and be genuinely interested in doing so. 


Don't believe me? I'm going to share two stories which will convey different methods and their results. 

Scenario 1

The first one is a job application I did for an organisation which we shall call X for privacy purposes. I applied for X using the usual channels, I tried to make myself look very impressive on my resume and it worked well I was called in for an interview.

Now, when HR managers read through the resumes that come through ATS, they are considering is "how can this person help us, what could they be doing". It happens all the time, in some interviews for smaller companies you might hear asides to each other like "oh, Kelly knows how to use CAD that could be useful for the platypus (random name) project we have coming up".

That is the mindset they have and by chance I had a lot of things in my resume that had those moments. When we got into the interview, all I did was talk about myself. I did not mention the company once and did not ask questions afterwards. The issue is that, whilst you may be great and all, you haven't really shown that you can help this specific company. You aren't solving their problems and you aren't making it about them.

The result? I never heard back from them and they hired someone else!

Scenario 2

Let's consider the second scenario where I had applied this method of helping and considering what the company or person wants.

For this particular job application, I customised my resume to highlight the experience that suited the job much like anyone else would for an application but the cover letter is where the difference lies. Rather than writing about myself, I wrote purely about the company.

I looked at their history, their current strategy, analysed their website and produced a cover letter than gave them information and analysis that they had not considered. I gave them a few designs, a strategy and more within this document and I said It was free of charge from me. I saw something I could do that would help them out with no real intent ask from my end.

The result? I was hired within a week.



You are basically an asset that they are purchasing for an annual subscription fee. Why would they buy a 20 tool Swiss army knife if they can't work out how they can use the tools? When it consider it this way, the error becomes a lot more apparent. People care more and are more interested when the topic is about them so why not purposefully shift the focus.

Can you see the profound impact that simply switching your mindset to only considering how you can help the other person can have?

Let me give you an example of this in a networking scenario, however I'm going to call this person Bob for privacy reasons again. I really wanted to form a relationship and get help from Bob but this was the first time meeting them and I severely doubted I would get a helping hand right off the bat. All I did for the first few months of our professional relationship was help them and continuously come up with ways that I could be of service. "Hey I know someone in that area" or "I'd be happy to look over it for you". Small gestures go a long way and eventually sometimes you don't even have to ask. They might even feel obligated enough to help you out. Which is what happened in my case. 

I am first and foremost a man of physics so I shall explain the physics version of this notion. The positive charge will represent the giver and a person who is helping others. The negative charge represents someone who is considering how they will benefit and taking. A flux line will represent the connection and rapport built between them.

To finish off

Give a helping hand when you can.

Give a helping hand when you can.

A common issue and question I get with this is: What if I have nothing to offer or no way to help? It's a fair question and it might sound odd but I have a few different answers. Firstly, I'm sure there's something you can offer, perhaps an introduction, a piece of information or an article you found that could help out. It's really not that hard to recall things, do a little research or just simply invest time. Secondly, maybe you need to up-skill and read more.

Experience is not the only way to gain knowledge, start reading and start to up-skill. You'll see a profound increase in how you can help people. This is actually an amazing motivation to learn as you are learning more to be able to help others. 

I apologise if you were looking for a step by step or a definitive guide on how to do this but there simply isn't. You could try the method I used but there are so many ways to put this lesson to use. I'll leave you with this; show a genuine and deep yearning to help others and people will naturally flock towards you. Opportunities are tied to people, the more people around you the opportunities that will come your way. *strokes beard* (I'm sorry last bad joke!) 

Alright, so this is just for those who are interested/physics inclined.

The physics of being a giver (Kind of :P)

I am first and foremost a man of physics so I shall explain the physics version of this notion. The positive charge will represent the giver and a person who is helping others. The negative charge represents someone who is considering how they will benefit i.e a taker. A flux line will represent the connection and rapport built between them.

When two takers (negative charges) interact there is no flux lines connecting the charges. As a result, there is no relationship formed.

When two takers (negative charges) interact there is no flux lines connecting the charges. As a result, there is no relationship formed.

Here, there is a positive charge. The positive charge gives and it provides help for the negative charge enabling a sustainable relationship. I'm not saying, you can't be a negative charge or that people are one of  the other but the best default is always to be the positive charge. In this case, the negative charge is just a reciever rather than a taker. 

Here, there is a positive charge. The positive charge gives and it provides help for the negative charge enabling a sustainable relationship.

I'm not saying, you can't be a negative charge or that people are one of  the other but the best default is always to be the positive charge.

In this case, the negative charge is just a reciever rather than a taker. 

So lesson 1: be a positive charge!

Alright, I hear you! "But Ajay won't two positive charges (givers) repel so that means two people can't be givers!"

Well, if we consider particle physics what we are looking at here is a electrostatic force. However there exists a stronger force and it's literally called the strong force

At around 1.7 femtometres (x10^-15 metres), the strong nuclear force that exists between nucleons becomes stronger than the Coulomb force that repels them. So two givers actually just get so close that there is an extremely strong bond between them. Lesson 2: If everyone gives we'll form amazingly strong bonds with each other! 

Managed to sneak in some physics into our job application blogpost. STEM and Real Skills are the two iron pillars of our company and if you want to read more articles like this, subscribe below. 



Program Recap Day 2

Day 2 was the most action packed day of the week! Before we transitioned the program to focus on the industry projects on the latter half of the week, we tried our best to pack in a range of activities early on.

Our students arrived at 10am again, albeit far more energised and at ease compared to the previous day. It was to be a long day, but a very interesting one!

Professional Module 2 - Interview Skills


Looks strange doesn't it? It's a module for interview skills but everyone is sitting on the floor. Our team decided to try something different by making it a bit less formal and focusing on breaking down the rigidity of the interview archetype. There was a range of responses to the exercise but that definitely means there's room for improvement which is pretty awesome to know!

Mentor Q and A Panel

After a great session of picking each other's brains, we decided to pick the brains of some special guests and mentors who we sat down with for a Q and A. 


Our guests, starting from the left of the picture above are introduced below. There are also links to where they work and what they do so please check it out! They all do amazing stuff!

Hayden Bleasal - Founder of Presumi and Senior Developer at Spaceship
Dominic Peters - Chemical Process Engineer at CH2M
Kevin Moonyoung Kim -
Photovoltaics Research Student at UNSW
Vincent Wei -
 Founder of CodeCreate

We covered a whole range of topics based on the experience and observations of our guests. Our students were thoroughly engaged by asking a myriad of questions associated with the concerns that everyone considers in their daily lives. Questions regarding self-confidence, success, decision-making, the whole lot was explored in depth. We tried to stay away from aspects that were too technical and instead focused on interpersonal, genuine conversation. We thank all the guests for taking time out of their day to sit and have a chat with us. Hopefully we can collaborate again in the future!

Data Visualisation

Our next module was presented by Iqbal BhattiCTO of several companies and a software engineer who works heavily with data. We decided to slot in this particular presentation due to its growing significance in markets and industries. Although it did not seem directly related to some of the engineering fields, all STEM students will have to handle data at one point in their careers. Data is truly the next big thing! 



Our final activity of the day was capped off with the subject of understanding the value and purpose of networking. This particular segment was hosted by our guest Usman Iftikharco-founder of Catalysr, a startup incubator for refugees and migrants. (The first of it's kind so check it out and support them!) It was a very inclusive, collaborative activity where opinions and ideas were drawn from the cohort, along with some fun icebreaker activities. It was carried out again in a very casual manner to create a sense of togetherness and familiarity. 


So that ended Day 2 of our Program! We'd like to again thank all of our guests and mentors who took the time to share their knowledge and advice. The students genuinely enjoyed your input. We hope to continue collaborating together to continuously improve the lives of others. 

Until the next recap!




Program Recap Day 1


Program Recap Day 1

The Beginning

Day 1 of our Program started off with our students trundling in at 10am on a Monday morning, coming together and exercising a simple, age-old practice.

The art of getting to know each other. 


In order to spark social interaction, we facilitated various speed networking and icebreaker exercises. We wanted to break down any barriers and stereotypes that supposedly identify people in number crunching professions as being shy, introverted and anti-social. 

From what we observed, those stereotypes were definitely non-existent. The students were smiling, happily chatting away and immersing themselves into a completely unfamiliar environment. Perhaps it was due to their built up expectations or surprise at the alternate approach to interacting with fellow course mates, something that university probably hadn't accommodated for in every day classes for a very long time.

Everyone has the ability to socialise, it's usually a matter of whether the environment feels right to exercise that skill to its potential. FYA has a great article on How To Talk To Anyone for those would like any tips on being that all rounded networker. 

Moving forward, it was only once the students were comfortable and energized that we dove straight into the details and expectation of the program.  



Walter, our co-founder introduced the students to the mission and values behind Real Skills Education with a short presentation. Thankfully there were no confused questions after the intro, meaning everyone (hopefully) understood our purpose. Which is a good thing!

Learning Module 1

We then moved onto our first professional module, Resumes. Walter went through the structure and scope of resumes but specifically focused on content expression. We tried to mix up the workshop with a few bits of advice here and there; that resumes are not standalone pieces of paper, that they in fact should visually/verbally reflect one's professionalism, work ethic, progress and achievements. 


Project Introductions

We finally arrived at the most exciting component of the program, the work based projects. These projects were specifically designed to give a taste of the type of work that our students may potentially undertake if they pursued their backgrounds of study as a profession. No gimmicks, no case studies, just real applicable projects. Each engineering stream had a tailored project provided by our awesome industry partners. The students were split into small teams and worked on these projects over the entirety of the week. 


So that was a brief overview of what happened on Day 1 of our STEM Leaders Program! If you would like to see the gallery for Day 1 and check out any more blogs, click the links below!



RSE Partners up with UNSW Engineering

Sydney startup Real Skills Education awarded funding from UNSW Engineering ahead of summer STEM Leaders Program

Education startup Real Skills Education has officially teamed up with UNSW Engineering to help realise its mission to transform university students into a new generation of STEM leaders.

The sponsorship comes after the startup began its transition into a not-for-profit, a move intended to allow RSE to offer their professional development services to students at no cost.

The capital will go towards covering the logistical costs of operating the December STEM Leaders Program, a five-day intensive course that provides students with professional development skills through job application and self-branding workshops and industry projects.

Walter Kong, cofounder and Director of RSE, says "We're extremely excited to get UNSW Engineering on board since we're from the faculty and they see exactly what kind of social impact we want to make. Together I think we can really change the way students view education in STEM fields and start to focus on equally important skills."

RSE will also be partnering with industry leaders from Skygrid, Instrument Works, Wattblock, AECOM, Dematic and Aquamonix as part of the industry project component of the STEM Leaders Program. Each company will assign students a relevant project and provide mentoring to the groups throughout its completion.

"Companies that partner with RSE will gain access to some of the most talented young people in Australia. Right now we take in a variety of industry specific engineering students but aim to expand to more STEM fields in 2017. It's an opportunity to hire amazing people, a think tank and supporting a social enterprise." says Ajay Prakash, Co-founder.

Alongside university funding, RSE will also be looking to connect with potential industry partners to support its long-term goal of offering their entire portfolio of services to university students for free.

By Juhi Vaghela
Content and Blog Manager
Real Skills Education




Teaser Photo Final.jpg

Hey guys RSE is excited to announce its second event, the STEM Leaders Program! 5 days, 6 companies, 60 students, 1 goal. Applications start soon so keep an eye on this space for more details and remember to let your friends know!     


Team Intro 2# Ajay Prakash (Co-Founder)


Team Intro 2# Ajay Prakash (Co-Founder)

Hi everyone, my name is Ajay Prakash, one of the co-founders of Real Skills Education alongside Walter. I’m probably the guy you’ve seen around doing a lot of the presentations because it’s something I truly enjoy doing!

Just a bit about myself, I’m 21 years old and I’m currently in my penultimate year of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at UNSW. People usually point out the disparities between engineering and what I am doing currently but I really beg to differ. Manufacturing techniques are actually the inspiration behind the lean start-up methodology and ideas, which is why I think it is the perfect degree for me! (Definitely check out The Lean Start-Up)

I don’t have a story that describes how I wanted to be an entrepreneur from an early age. In fact, up until 2015, I wanted to be an academic and lecturer. My passion in business and entrepreneurship only grew after completing my first internship and then working under a start-up. There were so many differences, it completely blew my mind. I started to change my values and really wanted to do something that I would get

At the moment, I’m working on WireTutor which is an Ed-tech start-up aiming to revolutionise the way the lectures are delivered currently in universities and other institutions. My other project is Real Skills Education which is an organisation that aims to help STEM students form relationships with industry professionals or in other words bridge classrooms to workplaces. It’s really my experiences that has contributed to shaping our direction and vision for both these initiatives.

I strongly believe that even if these ventures don’t work out, the social capital I’ve developed over my experiences in entrepreneurship is what’s truly valuable. It’s something I always come back to in my presentations or when I mentor students; the importance of social capital, a lesson which one of my mentors, Dorjee Sun, has instilled into me. The people you know and the people they know will help you succeed. Sure your skills, education and experience will help but you can’t truly succeed with just those by yourself.

Every day is amazing and I’m never planning on looking back. Whether we succeed or fail, Walter and I will keep pushing and persevering for something that will work and really help the student community that we have grown to love.

That’s it from me, today. If you see me around at university, start a conversation. Always happy to have a chat!


Team Intro 1# Walter Kong (Co-Founder)


Team Intro 1# Walter Kong (Co-Founder)

So how to start this off;

Hey guys, I'm Walter Kong, the co-founder of Real Skills Education alongside Ajay. I think many people don't know I'm associated with RSE but over the past year I personally opted to stay out of the limelight and just focus my energy on driving our enterprise forward. I guess today's the lucky day for me to say hello! 

Just a quick background of myself, I'm 23 years old and am currently studying in my penultimate year of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW. Before engineering, I attempted a Medical Science degree at WSU and attended James Ruse Agricultural High School. As a kid I remember being a complete dinosaur fanatic. My parents were always confused  when I used to spit dinosaur names like fire. They gave the old nod and smile, which ironically, is an excellent skill for one to have in adulthood.  I loved Lego and Pokemon, like any other kid back in the day. I had to stay overnight once at Westmead Hospital with my younger brother because he had a Lego head stuck up his nostril. I didn't put it there. 

So a lot of people might think, hey, your background doesn't really match what you're doing now. A dinosaur geek to engineering and now entrepreneurship? You're right. It is completely random, yet that's one of the very reasons why I did it.

Why not stick with engineering? 

Engineering has always offered a scope of unlimited potential in practice and application. Problem-solving is something that exists in every professional field and relationship. I have immense respect for the values engineering stands for. However, I felt that something was missing. I needed something less bounded, structured and more organic. Or was I making an elaborate excuse because I couldn't find a girlfriend in engineering, as the common hearsay goes. No, luckily enough, I have an accomplished girlfriend studying engineering herself so I think I did okay in that department. 

Throwing myself into entrepreneurship

A tough gig. Very very tough gig. It's like walking through a maze. Unless you know your way around before going in, everything is simply a matter of stop, go, spin around and try again. That's what entrepreneurship is like. Do you truly know where you're going to end? Not really. You have a vision, but you never know what's going to happen between A and B. 

I also very much needed to break out of my comfort zone. Like everyone else, I experienced a few upsets in life which resulted in me developing a very introverted character. At one point I realised that it was limiting my opportunities and happiness. I'm not the only one out there who experiences this but I always feel slight feeling of anxiety in my gut when I'm faced with unfamiliar circumstances. When I was younger I would take that as an indicator to back down and run away. However, I've been able to turn that weakness into a strength. I use that uncomfortable feeling as a trigger to move forward with twice the conviction. Nerve-wracking yes, yet something very necessary. 

Why RSE?

It was the first idea that was deemed feasible at the time and we just ran with it. We recognised a problem and are trying to fix it. Education is our core focus, as we believe it is the strongest diplomatic weapon people can wield to carve out the lives for themselves and others. 

Will this become the next Unicorn? Highly unlikely.
Will we be making bank from this? No idea.
How long will this company exist for? No idea again. 

It requires guts to start something new, and it also requires guts to call it quits. We aren't calling it quits anytime soon, but our team is realistic and pragmatic. 

I don't believe I'm fancier than or above anyone else because I decided to start a venture. I'm still a rookie with heaps more to learn and experience. I'm just proud of giving it a go. For all those others who want to really do something, either as a hobby or venture, just have a go. 

Thanks to everyone who read down this far. Hope to share more experiences soon. 

Walter Kong



Opportunities don't happen, create them


Opportunities don't happen, create them

Most people nowadays only have an attention span of around eight seconds so I’ll keep this short. Success is usually about selling yourself. I’m going to tell you how.

My professional life has often required me to explain myself and pitch ideas. Networking is a hard game to play, everyone’s out for themselves so it’s absolutely vital that you portray yourself professionally to be a contender.

Think of it almost like a poker game. You don’t always have the best hand, maybe you’re inexperienced in the workforce or just incredibly shy. But they don’t know that. You amplify your best traits and show people just how much potential you have.

As with many things in life, it’s the execution not the actual content that’s important. Sometimes having strong eye contact or a firm handshake can subconsciously give people a better vibe about you. So wipe down those sweaty hands and let’s have a look at what types of things we should say.

Keeping it simple at first, there’s some basic things you should mention about yourself:

1.      Who are you? Say your name obviously and your defining traits eg. I’m creative, efficient or good analysing data.

2.      What do you do?

3.      What do you bring to the table?

4.      Where do you want to go?

5.      What are you looking for?

A good way to develop conversation is to also ask about the person you are pitching to, if you don’t leave room for the other person to respond then you’re doing something wrong. It’s also interesting to note that people like hearing their names in conversation. Not only does it show you haven’t forgotten their name, by directly addressing a person whilst you’re pitching to them is a great way to build relationship.

Dropping in a few anecdotes or interesting life stories is always a good way to leave an impression as well. It’s a lot to take in I know, but the more you practice the better you’ll get.

Let’s have a look at the way I would introduce myself:

My name is Ajay Prakash. I started teaching people at the age of 14, my first student being my grandfather. He sat me down and made me teach HIM the mathematics I learned at school which really fostered my ability to explain concepts and my drive to teach people. This continued all throughout high school where I would teach my peers, younger students and eventually work as a tutor for the last 4 years in university. I realised I wanted to make a bigger impact outside the closed bubble of my immediate peers. These things helped forge the two companies I direct today.

WireTutor which aims to facilitate collaborative learning experiences within the classroom and Real Skills Education which aims to fill the gaps that standard education tends to miss out on. These companies really reflect the impact I want to leave and social issues that are truly dear to me. It’s this drive to educate and learn that really push me as a person. I truly believe learning to learn is the way to succeed. My aims and aspirations all point to making education rise to its full potential.

Starting off with some personal life experience highlights my eagerness to learn and teach from a very young age. Adaptability and willingness to learn are incredibly favourable things to showcase whenever you talk about yourself.

So next time you see that networking event, go for it. Do a little preparation and research and just put yourself out there, you never know what the future could hold. It may be uncomfortable or awkward at first however I want you to remember this; the boat is always safe at the dock but that’s not what it was made for.

Good luck everybody!



Interview Blunders As Told By The RSE Team

We’ve all been there. We’ve said or done something embarrassing in an interview that most likely destroyed any chance we had of getting the job. Some mistakes are innocent, some are the result of under preparation, and some, well, seemed like a good idea at the time… The RSE team knows how quickly things can go south in an interview room, so we decided to take a look at some of our interview fails in the hopes that you’ll learn from our mistakes.


Interviewed for: Holden

Number of Interviewers: 3

Ajay’s Crime: Cracking a bad joke

Back when Ajay was still learning the ropes when it came to interview etiquette, he did what any of us would do before an interview and went searching for some tips. Eager to make a good impression and stand out from the crowd, he figured humour would be a good way to get his interviewers on board. Here’s how it went down:

*Interviewer let’s Ajay in*

Interviewer 1: Sorry about that, hope you weren’t waiting too long.

Ajay: No problem. However, I was cleanly shaven when I got here so this is a rough representation of how long I waited *points to his 5 o’clock shadow*

Interviewers: ...

Ajay: ...

Interviewers: ...

Lesson learned: “Jokes are kind of 50/50. If I was to redo this interview I would read the situation first. Scanning the room makes it pretty easy to work out if the interviewers will respond well or not.”


Interviewed for: Penrith City Council

Number of Interviewers: 2

Walter’s Crime: Memorising the company website

Get to know the company you’re interviewing for is always the first order of advice when it comes to nailing an interview. However, there’s understanding a company’s vision, and then there’s committing every last detail to memory and regurgitating the facts to your interviewer. In this case, Walter’s penchant for preparedness left him feeling quite silly. Here’s what happened when the Project Manager asked him what he knew about the Penrith Council Master Plan:

“I must have come off as some computer rattling off facts and figures which evidently exemplified rote learning. My interviewers laughed and said, "Well you definitely read the website." It was embarrassing. I generally try not to sound so obvious when answering questions. The composure I had maintained for the majority of the interview somehow shattered with that one question.”

Lesson learned: When asked what you know about a company or their activities, avoid giving a textbook definition. Instead, consider the most important facts, such as the company’s mission, aims and their results, and formulate a response that shows how your knowledge, skills or passion connect to the company.

Bonus lesson: Despite losing his cool, Walter still landed the position. The takeaway here being that it’s important to not get hung up on little mistakes because it can affect the rest of the interview.


Interviewed for: MEC Australia

Number of Interviewers: 2

Juhi’s Crime: Not thinking before speaking

Interviews can be a nightmare when you’re shy. Counter that with trying to be so prepared that you end up knowing more about the company than you do about yourself, and believe it or not, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Juhi thought her interview was going quite well up until she was asked a question about the company’s different departments and what they do. Her answer didn’t even classify as less than satisfying. Here’s what happened:

“I said I don’t know. It’s just about the worst thing you can say in an interview because it makes you seem unprepared and like you don’t really care about the company. In actual fact, I did know the answer but information overload short circuited my brain and I accidentally blurted out those words. But when your interviewers start explaining it to you, it’s a little too late to take everything back and say you know the answer.”

Lesson learned: If a question stumps you, take a moment to collect your thoughts before you answer. In a moment of panic, it’s easy to forget what you want to say, but even if you don’t have an answer, it will give you an opportunity to think the question through. Taking a little longer to answer is always better than “I don’t know.”


Interviewed for: Austern International

Number of Interviewers: 1

Kanin’s Crime: Skipping the question

Feeling nervous before an interview is common, and for some reason digital interviews can make that feeling 100x worse. Kanin’s interview, which was conducted over Google Hangouts, didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped. When asked a question, he blanked out in a fit of panic and was unable to answer the question. Eventually, he mumbled an apology, and the interviewer decided to just move onto the next question. Kanin recalls how it affected the rest of the interview:

“It was so awkward. It set me up to fail the next few questions because I was so embarrassed. At the end of the interview, however, when I had finally cooled down, I asked if it was okay for me to go back to the question I didn’t answer. Fortunately, the interviewer was kind enough to let me do that, and I actually ended up being accepted.

Lesson learned: Making a mistake in an interview doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your chance of getting the job. It might feel awkward, but sometimes it’s perfectly okay to apologise and ask to elaborate on a point you missed earlier. If the interview is already over and you forgot to mention something you feel will help you get the job, subtly integrate what you want to say when you send them a thank you email afterwards.

So there you have it: the RSE team at their most red-faced. What we’ve learned from this little trip down memory lane is that even interviews that have gone sideways are salvageable. The trick is to embrace the fact that mistakes are unavoidable and then (try to) keep your cool. Doing so when you’ve messed up can go a long way.

Have an interview horror story of your own? Feel free to share them with us!


Excentricity Design Competiton


Excentricity Design Competiton

The time and effort our team has invested into RSE for the past 6 months has always been fuelled by the scope and vision of our venture. I'm proud to know that we have taken concrete steps towards opening up numerous pathways to experience and learning. Our professional development pathway has focused on low cost, open and valuable opportunities as a stepping stone for students to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

However,  our efforts have certainly not been limited to corporate opportunities. My pal Ajay, co-founder of RSE, was recently offered to lead the design and manufacture of a new shoe box for a startup based in China. Instead of undertaking it as a personal project, he decided to flesh out a design competition through Real Skills Education.

This was an awesome turn of events, as one of the old pivoting suggestions for our venture was to offer opportunities for students to solve either technical or design issues for small startups and receive either work placements, networking or monetary return, if the results produced were deemed satisfactory of course. This was based on our knowledge that since most startups start with very little capital, introducing students to the boundless professional opportunities in the growing demographic of startups was a neat stepping block to career building.

So with all this mind, we charged straight into marketing and structuring the design competition. Unfortunately, one aspect that was against us was the timing of the competition. It was based at the end of semester going into stuvac and as a student myself, I tend to just stay at home procrastinating while pretending to be productive.

Despite this, we received some amazing submissions. The level of creativity was far beyond our expectations and it was an extremely tough decision for us to choose the finalists. Keeping this in mind, we were all looking forward to the finals pitch.

Again due to timing constraints, it was a tough gig trying to gather an audience for our final event. It was smack bang in the middle of exam period and if there was any way around it, I would definitely have tried it. I personally wished we could have more people attend and watch the eloquent presentations given on the night. Nevertheless the event came along and we had a cosy little group consisting of the RSE team, some observers and the finalists.

The pitches were awesome. The initial submissions were one thing, but the presentations were next level. I thank all the teams for putting in so much effort into their competition progress, despite its modesty. Everyone from RSE thanks you for participating, and we really hope you will be the first to have a crack at our events or programs.

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Also, congratulations to the winners. It was not an easy choice but you guys proved to be the best. Good luck on the rest of your manufacturing process and I hope that you can soon enjoy the actualisation of holding a physical copy of your creative design efforts. All the best.


Walter Kong
Real Skills Education