Asia’s Dulwich College International turned the disruption caused by a mass lockdown into a chance for students to get their first taste of corporate life via remote externships, by partnering with Paragon One
Dylan C hopes to become a doctor.
As a senior school student in Singapore, medical school is still a few years away for him, but that doesn’t mean he is biding his time. Instead, he epitomizes what it means to be a versatile Gen Z student and leaps at all career-building opportunities that come his way.
When his school offered students the chance to apply for remote externships at US firms through the summer, Dylan immediately signed up for a finance project at a New York startup.
“I found joining a venture capital firm quite rewarding because I could transfer the valuable skills that I gained to almost any industry,” he said.
Experiences like his stand testament to the evolving face of what it means to receive an enriching education in 2020. With COVID19 disrupting regular plans, schools like Dylan’s have chosen to take pause and use the opportunity to innovate with an eye to the future.
Earlier this year, Dulwich College International, a group of leading international colleges and high schools in Asia, was quick to announce a series of initiatives that would add value to their core education program, even as the coronavirus pandemic gained ground.
“COVID-19 may have impacted the learning experience of students around the world, but at Dulwich, we see an opportunity to think out of the box to continue to deliver holistic and experiential learning,” explained Sian May, the group’s Director of Senior School.
Through a series of initiatives targeted at their Year 11 and Year 13 high schoolers (students in the 10th and 12th grades), Dulwich College International rolled out a comprehensive program to provide a variety of real-world experiences that would allow students to apply skills beyond the classroom.
A crucial part of that program involved a partnership with Paragon One, which allowed students to apply to eight-week remote externships at American firms, where they would get the chance to work on real company projects across a range of industries.
“We believe an education must go beyond books, bricks and mortar,” May said. “On-the-job learning gives our students early exposure to the world of work and cultivates a deep sense of self-assuredness.”
Paragon One was founded to bridge the gap between education and industry, so schools are able to graduate students with job-ready skills that employers are looking for. A core part of our mission is to work from within traditional education systems to create the greatest impact for students.
“Internships aren’t just for college students anymore, and forward-thinking schools like Dulwich College International are living proof of the benefits a high school student can get from experiencing what it’s like to work a real corporate job,” said Matt Wilkerson, CEO of Paragon One.
“We’ve seen how students can thrive at their first jobs if they’re given the right mentorship, but unfortunately, not every manager has the time to devote personal attention to training interns. That’s where we realized we could fit in. We developed remote externships that rely on a symbiotic relationship between education institutions and companies.”
Angel L, a student at Dulwich College Beijing, says the remote externship opportunity came at “a really good time”, as COVID19 hit, but that it would have been valuable for any high schooler at any time.
“That period when you're in high school transitioning to university, you don’t have a lot of stress and you have the time to explore career paths,” she shared.
"The remote externship was a good bridge to a future career, because it gave us a lot of autonomy, but we were probably still mentored more than we would have been at an internship."
Because Paragon One takes over the day-to-day management of remote interns from corporate partners, students enrolled in externships have a support system to mentor them through the process and answer questions.
“Our platform tracks progress to help students stay on track with their work, we design projects that they can work on in their own time and we immerse them in a bootcamp before they even begin work, so they feel fully equipped to tackle the assignments they’re given,” Wilkerson explains.
Students are also given regular facetime with the company they’re working for through interactive webinars and have the chance to present their work at the end of the externship.
“In terms of authentic learning, there is no better means than having a real-world audience,” May says.
“The Dulwich curriculum is especially geared with a strong progressive stance to help students develop skills that are essential for the workplace of the future and jobs that do not even exist today. Education is about preparing students for an indefinable future and this partnership with Paragon One is helping our students to be able to not only be effective, but to thrive in an unknown future environment.”