An insight into Nguyen Bao Nhu Quynh

Nguyễn Bảo Như Quỳnh was in the top 2% of graduates in 2012 from RMIT University (worldwide), earning a Bachelor of Professional Communication with Distinction from the Saigon campus. She transitioned directly from her internship as a Junior Copywriter at DDB Vietnam into a full-time role as Copywriter, and has now been working full-time for 9 months.

The following is an interview with Quỳnh, in which she discusses her pathway through the education system, and offers an insight into what new or future graduates can expect as they transition into the workforce.

Quỳnh, let’s start with your general attitude to life, learning and behavior. How did you approach your high school years?

To this day I still think of high school years as formative years. During those years, I tried to acquire as many skills and facets of knowledge as possible. I was an English major because I love the language and looking back, I think I made the right choice.

How would you describe your values, and how do you think they developed?

I think values are crucial. Everyone should have a set of values. Broadly speaking, mine involves responsibility, integrity and honesty. I believe in doing a good job of whatever is assigned to me; be honest, responsible and active. I’m very against using schemes or cheating. I believe my values developed from a combination of personal awareness, family education and school/life education.

Did you harbor any dreams or goals in High School?   

Quynh on her graduation day

Quynh on her graduation day

I knew I would love to do something with the human mind, languages or writing because I love them. Technically speaking, they were not standard dreams or goals as they were quite vague. I did play with the idea of becoming a psychologist, but something in my guts told me I was not ready for that kind of job yet.

Did High School prepare you for University, and can you identify any strengths or weaknesses in the process you experienced?

I went to Tran Dai Nghia High School, and it was a very good environment because I got to study with competitive, competent and diligent students (most of them at least). It was also a more progressive environment compared to the other high schools, I reckon. We studied hard and played hard. I think that’s how my high school years prepared me for university – being responsible for my own study. Or maybe it was just me. 😉

The high school system in Vietnam is still quite didactic. It is not interactive and not updated with new technology. Also, students are not equipped with realistic skills like project management, money management, interpersonal skills, or even common sense.

Why did you choose RMIT?

University decision is always a hard one. You need to consider many factors before deciding on one. I think my attraction lay in the Professional Communication major. I looked at the curriculum and there was a lot of writing so I chose it. I didn’t take up the offers from a few American universities because I felt at that age I was not yet ready for psychology. As RMIT is the only international university in Vietnam, Australian education is more valuable and credible than a Vietnamese one, in my opinion, and economically it made more sense, I chose RMIT.

What were your objectives throughout your degree. Did they change as you progressed?

I had a few. To be honest, one of them is to get a 4.0 GPA. That didn’t change until the end and I got it. I also kept in mind during my degree that whatever I learnt, I needed to be able to apply it to the workplace. That objective also stayed with me till the end.

How did your approach to study compare to your peers?

They told me I’m a perfectionist and I push them too hard. I guess I approached my study similarly to how I approached other things in life – I want to do the best I can and maximize the results. What’s the point of mediocrity? It appeared to me that many of my peers wanted high grades, but were actually focused on handing in assignments before the deadlines and simply passing.

Tell us about how you found employment and a little about what your role encompasses.

My current employer found my profile on LinkedIn and contacted me for a portfolio. I sent them my student portfolio and went in for an interview. I was offered the internship, and before accepting I chose to attend industry events to learn more about the fields of Advertising, PR and Marketing. The internship is where you should do your best, not play games with people or try to impress superficially, and act professionally. My performance and attitude during my internship resulted in my being offered the job. Now, as a copywriter, I come up with ideas and write the lines for TVCs, print ads, and other advertising materials. I also work with clients in meetings, TV shoots, voice recordings, etc.

Did University prepare you well for the workforce?

RMIT did. I learnt the theory of what was expected in the workplace in University. I think the University also prepared me professionally for the workforce. In hindsight, I wish my degree had offered more writing courses, as they would have provided me with additional important skills for my current job.

Would you say there is a gap between expectations and reality?

There is a huge gap if you expect working to be an easy ride. There are no parents to back you up when you go to the workplace. You’re responsible for the job you do and the results you deliver. Also people you work with sometimes are not your friends. You need a higher level of professionalism and personal awareness when you come to work.

What problems do you see in the Vietnamese corporate workplace?

People are not straightforward here. Business would be done faster if people would know clearly what they want and communicate that clearly to others.  Time management is lacking – there seems to be little preparation for projects and respect for deadlines. Some staff treat work too casually. For example, some people make promises that they don’t deliver on. Some settle for mediocrity or try to dodge work. I have seen a trend of not assuming responsibility when something goes wrong. Being aware of the needs of others is an area that requires improvement.

From these observations, what specific skills do you think future graduates need?

Time management, project management, presentation, etiquette, English language and general computer skills

Having been through the education system, and successfully made it through to “the other side”, what advice can you give to new and existing tertiary students?

Start by establishing a clear idea of what you want to do, what you enjoy, what you’re capable of. I’ve met a wannabe-writer who doesn’t like to write. Needless to say they had a difficult time doing their job. So there’s no point pursuing a career you don’t believe in, or have no interest whatsoever in.

Always try. Never say “I won’t do this, I won’t do that.” By responding or thinking in such a way you severely limit your employability. Your attitude can make all the difference.

Also have respect for the industry, and for what you choose to do. It means going to your workplace acknowledging that the people who are working there have their own talent to offer, and respect that. Learn what you can about your job and about the industry, but refrain from getting into the gossipy side of things (rumors about clients, colleagues, etc.). Be aware that gossip will always exist in a workplace, but do your best to steer clear. You should be focusing on your skills and your job responsibilities.

Thank you very much for your time, Quynh.

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