My brother in law recently graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Skudai, Johor in the field of Mechanical Engineering (major in Aeronautic). The convocation was held on August 2007, and to be exact, 2 weeks ago. Before the graduation ceremony, he already secured his position as a trainee in one of the manufacturing companies in Shah Alam and will be starting work next week. The pay for the trainee job hardly reaches RM1000 per month, but he took it anyway. He knows if he is choosy he will be up for a tough time. I will tell you how his attitude will work well for him.
He is an Average Graduate.
Firstly, my brother in law is an average student; the kind of student that you meet frequently, every day in the campus. When I met him when he was on his 2nd year, he seemed to be struggling and had the CGPA grade between 2.2 to 2.6. I can’t remember how many times he had to resit for exams. He loves his course and field but he found it difficult to cope with the studies. In fact, he has a huge ambition to become a pilot for the national airlines or commercial airlines. And because of the high interest, he attended pilot intake exam and assessment twice. The assessment consists of 2 major evaluation; flight simulation practice and Science and Physics papers.
For both times, he passed the simulation test with flying colors, but the exam papers would let him down. Not only his Physics was poor, his English is also below average. And being in the UTM where English is hardly a medium for communication did not help him much. Me and and my wife knew if he were to continue the present performance then it will be a daunting task for him to market himself in the job market after the graduation.
As an advice, we encourage him to give more focus to his studies and at the same time continue to improve his English. English is not only important when you are a pilot, but it is a universal language that needs to be mastered when you are in the working and professional world.
Towards the end of his 4-year course, we could see some tremendous improvement both in his studies and his English. During his last semester, he marked a 3.6 GPA pointer, which helped to increase his CGPA to above 3.0 pointer. It is a great achievement (even though people say 3.0 is nothing compared t 3.5 or 3.7), and it was achieved by putting a lot of effort.
No Longer Average
Having secured the trainee job will no longer make him an average graduate soon. Why? First, there is an appalling difference between a graduate who sits at home for 6 months doing nothing and another graduate who spends the same amount of time in the real working world. It does not matter if the one who sits at home scored a first class degree and the other a 2nd class lower. This is because the working experience is something that you can’t buy, or trade with your academic results.
Working in the real world requires much more than your brain intelligence. It requires wisdom, maturity, ability to handle stress, communication and interpersonal skills and many other traits not available in school curriculum.
Also, there is something else that he did that differentiates him from other graduates. While the final semester was ending, he took an initiative to write his resume and compiled a series of interview questions that may be asked during interview. This was done while his other course mates were busy writing the final year report and could not be bothered with the additional tasks not counted for their final CGPA. And not only he wrote his resume, he showed his resume to a couple of friends, and also to his other brother in law to get some feedback and make the necessary adjustments.
Lastly he sent his resume to me and ask for a final check. After going through it, I did not see if I can make the resume look any better except for some small and minor changes. I asked him where he learned to write his resume because in my own experience, I seldom find graduating students who are able to write such a good resume. He told me he asked many people and discussed with friends and lecturers and then came out with a final version. I told him if he markets his resume correctly and sharpen his interview skills, it won’t take long before he lands his first job. I was right.
Later, he sent me a list of 50 interview questions and asked me to teach him to answer those questions. I responded by advising not to burden himself with too many questions as he was preparing his final year report. Instead, I passed him the 20 popular interview questions and answers that I developed to him. Things have gone pretty well for him since.
Stop Being Choosy
The job market is competitive out there. It is even more for the fresh graduates, having to compete with fellow graduates as well as the experienced job seekers. My brother in law knows this, and he took his chance when it was first on his sight. The amount of pay will not be able to give luxury but enough to cover his expenses. I know he will survive because he is not the type of person who likes spending money on luxuries and gadgets, unlike many other youngsters. While his other friends are using the latest released tech-enabled phones, he is still using the old Nokia 3310 given by his sister some 3 years ago.
The current trainee position is a stepping stone for him because as the time goes by and as he gains more experience, there will be opportunities awaiting for him. He might be an average or not-so clever student but once he is inside the employment world, it is considered secondary because what matters most is how he can perform in his job. I also know he will do well because he is the type of person that possesses extra ordinary work ethics. You ask him to do things, he will do it. If he does not know, he will ask you. If he makes mistakes, he will fix it in the future and will not repeat. He gets a lot of scoldings from his 3 older sisters but he did not retaliate.
He is also the type of person who is eager to learn something new and try things himself before deciding things will work for him or not. He joined a number of MLM companies, and during the degree courses, he also made effort to get extra money by selling kerepek pisang to his colleagues. And knowing that we also sell clothings online, he asked for a few samples to be shown for his colleagues-to-be once he is on board with the company next week.
Lastly, he did not complain. He knows he might find difficulties finding jobs, but instead of complaining and whining, like a number of job seekers who wrote to me telling how the job market is not fair, he continues to improve himself. Sometimes, they wrote comments in my posting using obscene languages telling how the government is not doing their job and all that stuff. For these people, I am not at all sad if they never get a job.
So, if an average person like my brother in law can do it, I am sure any of you who reads this can do it too.