Mismatched Expectations: CIPE’s Selection Processes
story Li Ting Chan
Several students have expressed disgruntlement over how the Centre for International and Professional Experiences (CIPE) chooses its program participants, following the release of application results to summer opportunities in the past few weeks.
According to Dennis Chiang ’17, there has been general frustration with CIPE’s lack of transparency. He said that some students felt that there is miscommunication with regards to the selection criteria for different programs, such as on prior experience, which made students feel frustrated when rejected. He felt that CIPE needed to communicate their selection criteria more clearly so there will not be false expectations.
Such was the case for Goh Si Yuan ’18, who had submitted a proposal to CIPE for a Travel Fellowship after attending a CIPE-organized workshop on proposal writing. After the results were announced and his application rejected, he sought feedback from the then Dean of CIPE Anastasia Vrachnos and realised that CIPE was looking for very different things in Travel Fellowship proposals. “One feedback that we never got from the proposal writing workshop was that you are supposed to write … about group dynamics,” Goh said.
Students should speak with the respective CIPE program managers if they want to be sure about selection criteria, Senior Manager Adelle Lim emphasized. “There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach to [admitting students into] summer programs especially since our offerings are very diverse,” she wrote in an email. While CIPE generally looks at long-term student development, the criteria is also dependent on other factors, such as specific skill sets requested by external organizations, according to Ms. Lim.
However, providing CIPE with student feedback is equally important. Sanjana Tadepalli ’17 said that while CIPE could have provided clearer information about selection processes, individuals should take the initiative to give structural feedback. Input on the students’ part can help change things and improve the process in both the short-term and the long-term, she said.
The CIPE Student Advisory Council (SAC), which acts as an intermediary between CIPE and the student body, is one such feedback channel. Echoing Tadepalli’s sentiments, Ng Sai Ying ’17, a member of the CIPE SAC, noted that “one of the best things about being in a small start-up school is that we can really tweak the way we do things immediately”.
Although taking these steps might make CIPE’s selection processes more transparent, Christopher Tee ’17, another CIPE SAC member, cautioned that students should not expect too much transparency. CIPE tries to model the real world as closely as possible, Tee explained. “It can’t be so utopian since [that level of transparency] does not exist in the real world,” he said.
Meanwhile, students have also started sourcing for alternative summer opportunities. Soh Wee Yang ’17 has since started a group on Facebook, called Alternative Summer Plans, to provide a platform for students to share such programs. “There are many more opportunities out there that are just waiting for us to discover, so we do not all need to compete for the same few limited opportunities,” he said.