Igniting a Career-Ready Future with EDC-SIKAT Scholar Graduates

The transition from a controlled environment such as college to a competitive and dynamic professional realm is a critical and challenging path that every student must face upon graduation.

In an ever-evolving job market where hiring managers prioritize adaptable and versatile individuals, the pressure is on for college graduates to step up and show that they can offer more than just the average applicant – that is, their soft skills and the practical experiences acquired from their higher education.

First Gen-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC) realizes this predicament all too well, largely for the scholar-graduates of its SIKAT Program. The company stresses the significance of post-graduation job readiness knowing that after graduation, the scholars usually find themselves jumping into the fire and ending up lost in the mayhem of first-time job seekers. Ill-prepared, they end up frustrated or worse, jobless. In reality, job hunting is as much about one’s skills and qualifications as it is about patience. Any applicant could be a ‘perfect’ candidate for a job and still not get it.

To address this situation, the country’s leading pure renewable energy firm developed Career Readiness Trainings tailored to assist their SIKAT scholar-graduates in cultivating essential skills and principles for employment. In collaboration with the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), the training materials cover aspects ranging from job searching and interview techniques to acclimating to their initial 90 days in their respective careers. The workshop is also followed by a graduation ceremony to celebrate the scholar-graduates’ remarkable milestone and recognize their achievements.

One aspect of EDC’s Career Readiness Workshop involves conducting mock job interviews for SIKAT scholar-graduates to familiarize them with the questions companies would commonly ask their applicants. After all, the level of confidence they exude during job interviews can influence their chances of getting hired.

SIKAT is EDC’s banner education program that provides quality education to economically-disadvantaged yet deserving students from its host communities in all sites through scholarship, which covers financial assistance and mentoring. Rooted in EDC’s commitment toward creating educational equity for young individuals from impoverished, rural communities, the initiative aims to equip them with the essential knowledge and skills required for their future careers, enabling them to successfully complete their chosen courses and graduate from their selected universities.

Through SIKAT, scholars are also exposed to EDC’s advocacy toward environmental conservation and regenerative progress by means of pure, clean, and stable renewable energy such as geothermal. As a result, they seek out meaningful employment opportunities where they can translate their passion into purpose, carrying with them a profound dedication to sustainable practices and a determination to make a positive impact on the environment and society at large.

In 2023, the program produced 40 graduates across all their geothermal sites, as well as 11 graduates from the Obo Manobo indigenous community in Mindanao. Among them, 5 were magna cum laude graduates and 13 were cum laude graduates.

During their career readiness training and graduation ceremony with EDC, many graduates couldn’t help but express their gratitude for SIKAT, acknowledging the priceless support they received from the program throughout the years.

“They were there to support my finances, which covered my living expenses and travel cost for about 7 years,” said Lance Zepeda, a SIKAT scholar-graduate of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Science Teaching at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. “Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to afford to study at the University of the Philippines, one of the most prestigious and respected institutions in the country.”

Rosalie Alcansado, one of SIKAT’s magna cum laude graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Southern Mindanao, also mentioned that the program became her golden opportunity for a bright and successful future. “EDC, kayo ang naging sandigan at daan sa pag-abot ng aming mga pangarap at ang tumulong para ipagpatuloy ang mga pangarap na aming minimithi sa buhay.”

(EDC, you stood as the foundation and path towards achieving our dreams and helped us in pursuing our aspirations in life.)

Apart from the career readiness workshop, the program featured a graduation ceremony for the scholar-graduates, which was graced with heartfelt and motivational speeches from fellow graduates, SIKAT alumni, the proud parents, and their EDC family.

Parents of SIKAT scholar-graduates conveyed their own sentiments on how SIKAT’s assistance helped their children fulfill their educational goals. Lilia Valladolid, mother of Wenalyn who graduated from the Sorsogon State University with a magna cum laude award and a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Electronics) degree, said in her speech, “Kung hindi dahil sa tulong niyo, hindi ko alam kung paano namin matutustusan ang pang-araw araw na pangangailangan ng aming anak lalo na’t dahil sa pandemya, mas tumaas ang mga bilihin at pamasahe na hindi sapat sa kinikita ng aking asawa.”

(If not for your help, I don’t know how we would’ve been able to sustain our daughter’s daily needs, especially since my husband’s earnings were barely enough to cover her cost of living and transportation, which increased during the pandemic.)

Of course, their educational and personal journeys included a few obstacles. Despite facing their own challenges, however, SIKAT scholars persevered to excel in their studies and finish college, eager to make the most of the opportunity presented by the program.

Diana Mansos, a cum laude graduate from Bicol University with a Bachelor of Technical Vocational Teacher Education degree, shared her experience during her second year in college when her father unexpectedly passed away.

“In those challenging moments, the idea of continuing my education was overshadowed by the weight of grief. I doubted my ability to persevere,” said Mansos. “Yet, my scholarship emerged as a lifeline, allowing me to persist through those dark days. It became my anchor; it got me through the tough times. And with determination and support from my EDC family, I found the strength to persevere.”

SIKAT scholar-graduates across all geothermal sites proudly pose with their parents and EDC family, all of whom have supported them in their rigorous yet meaningful educational journey.

SIKAT scholar-graduates across all geothermal sites proudly pose with their parents and EDC family, all of whom have supported them in their rigorous yet meaningful educational journey.

Ultimately, SIKAT is and will continue to be a beacon of hope for these marginalized yet qualified young minds to strive for their goals and aim towards  a brighter, regenerative future, not only for themselves and their proud families, but as well as the country. And after attending EDC’s Career Readiness Training, they can safely venture out into the “real world” as workforce-ready individuals and pay forward the assistance they received from the prestigious program.

“Hindi na tayo lamang mga mag-aaral; tayo ay mga indibidwal na handa nang mag-ambag sa lipunan at sa pag-iral ng tunay na reyalidad,” said Cristina Bo, a Magna Cum Laude scholar-graduate of Bicol University in Bachelor of Secondary Education, addressing her fellow graduates. “Ang karunungang natamo natin at ang liwanag na ibinigay ni EDC ay mangyaring ibahagi rin natin sa iba nang masikatan din ng pag-asa ang ikinukubli nilang pangarap sa dilim.”

(We are no longer just students; we are individuals ready to contribute to society and face reality. Let us spread the knowledge and enlightenment we have gained through EDC to help illuminate other peoples’ hidden dreams..)

Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is First Gen Corporation’s 100% Renewable Energy (RE) subsidiary with over 1,480MW total installed capacity that accounts for 20% of the country’s total installed RE capacity. Its 1,185MW geothermal portfolio comprises 62% of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity, making the Philippines the third largest geothermal producer in the world. First Gen is the Philippines’ leading clean energy company. ###