10,000 hours of practice: the key to success in life

Nguyen Quang Hoa, 34, hopes that a generation of young Vietnamese would be bursting with energy, confidence, and expertise in the next two decades

Students are pictured sitting in job interviews at an employment event held in Ho Chi Minh City in this file photo.

Editor’s note: Nguyen Quang Hoa, 34, hopes that a generation of young Vietnamese would be bursting with energy, confidence and expertise and would benefit hugely from a practical education in his submission to the “Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” (“My Expectations for Vietnam in 20 Years”) writing contest.

The following story is representative of a young Vietnamese generation with bursting energy, confidence, and expertise in 2035. 

Hanoi in 2035 sees a switch in labor recruitment among enterprises in accordance with the World Bank’s (WB) recommendation in the 2014 Vietnam Development Report. The report reads that “Apart from determining job-related technical skills, enterprises/labor users need to look for awareness skills such as problem-solving and counter-arguing, as well as behavioral skills like teamwork and communication in candidates.”

“The 10,000 hours of practice rule” is a relative concept based on Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book “Outliers.” The price to become gifted is 10,000 hours. It suggests:

Each graduate is supposed to complete the 10,000-hour rule, which is meant to raise citizens’ sense of awareness and responsibility. The hands-on experiences will help them fulfill their set of soft skills – a requisite for workers in the 21st century.

Students will be issued certificates with such content as “10,000 hours of sharing and community assistance,” “10,000 hours of presentation,” “10,000 hours of teamwork,” “10,000 hours of training and passing on knowledge,” and “10,000 hours of leading oneself and organizations.”

If these are achieved, the following saddening statistics would go into oblivion: “Vietnam is home to 900,000 unemployed people, including up to 72,000 university graduates and holders of master’s degrees. Among university graduates every year, over 13 percent need retraining or complemented skills. Nearly 40 percent of them need to be paired for retraining at workplaces and another 41 percent need time to get used to their new job.”

I’d like to tell the story below as a suggested solution.

Que Chi, a young, dynamic girl, is a 21st century “global citizen” who has an excellent command of English. She is working and living in the ASEAN community, with a population of 800 million. Chi is admitted into a large international financial institution given her impressive curriculum vitae, which highlights her academic accomplishments during four university years, a set of soft skills acquired through useful, first-hand experiences and her social liability.

“I was introduced to useful courses as a freshman, including a course called ‘Information Searching Skills’ which the World Bank in Vietnam offered around 2010. Other courses in effective note-taking and teaching oneself have saved me considerable time,” Chi said.

She added that thanks to helpful advice, she soon found herself a mentor in learning and career orientation, which considerably cut down her time spent on job selection.

“I’m always aware that ‘the fourth estate is information,’ and I ran a fan page sharing information on events and contests with youths. I always had opportunities to shine alongside chairs of student clubs at different schools, and I was a reliable information provider to students,” Chi further divulged.

She was also provided with career orientation, which is a compulsory subject in high school. During her four university years, she joined sessions and exchanges held on a biannual basis, which saw the participation of counselors from the Hanoi Employment Introduction Center, the International Labor Organization, professional associations, and youth assistance centers.

“The start-up spirit was cultivated on a trial and error basis right in our first university year. Obtaining ‘the right to fail’ all along and maturing through each experience augmented our confidence,” she said.

“In addition, to perfect my English and team-building skills, I took on volunteer opportunities at top international student organizations such as Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (AIESEC), Volunteers for Peace Vietnam and Hanoi Kids. I could thus hone my English skills right from my first university year, and learned from and experienced various cultures of international students. That shielded me from culture shocks when I started working at a multinational company,” Chi added.

“To better my training and knowledge imparting skills and demonstrate my citizen responsibility, I adopted the roles as a coach/trainer/mentor/teacher and shared what I know with others. During my four university years, I aided four students who performed less satisfactorily than I did and held classes for over 10 kids each year,” she said.

“Meanwhile, to enhance my leadership skills and forge links with other individuals and organizations, I enrolled at academic and skill clubs that my university offers. The enrollment at 10 different clubs during four school years is a compulsory requisite.

“We acquired adaptability and flexible problem-solving skills. We devised plans to apply for sponsorship, established communal connections, made friends and entertained ourselves. We also took turns to lead our teams, thus improving my leadership and team-building skills.”

“You know, the ratio of students and clubs at my university is 31/1. The ratio is equal to that at the U.K.’s top-notch Cambridge University, which was the world’s highest around 2010,” she said.

“I’m lucky to have been entrusted with tasks, and given the right to engage in different tasks on a trial and error basis. For our own workshops, we invited guest speakers who are inspirational success stories, leading experts in various fields and aspiring alumni.

“All these experiences have inspired me, boosted my awareness of citizens’ responsibility and reinforced my eagerness to help those in need.

“We were also blessed with opportunities to learn with lecturers who are also experienced, successful entrepreneurs. The ratio between lecturers/entrepreneurs and mainstream lecturers is 70/30. The training program is rich in practicality, with practice sessions making up 40 percent of the classes. Each lecturer is tasked with referring students to part-time jobs and apprenticeships at businesses.

“Lastly, I’m really thankful for a transparent assessment mechanism which places strong emphasis on practicality and a set of workers’ soft skills which is jointly released by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, the ASEAN community, and the International Labor Organization based on the agencies’ sound assessment of students’ real capacities.”

“Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” is a competition organized by the World Bank in Vietnam and Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that encourages local youths to write down their wildest, yet feasible, dreams about how Vietnam will change in 20 years’ time.

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