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Sunday, 20 April 2014 | MYT 4:14 PM

Options after graduation: Entering the workforce

Challenging himself: Boga adapted to the changes in Hanoi and even learnt to cycle through the city's narrow streets.

Challenging himself: Boga adapted to the changes in Hanoi and even learnt to cycle through the city's narrow streets.

GETTING a job after a degree may be just the most conventional path taken by most graduates. 

The Graduate Tracer Study carried out by then Higher Education Ministry found that 30% of first degree graduates were employed with a basic salary of more than RM2,500 in 2012 while the Department of Statistics puts the figure of graduate unemployment at 65,000 in the same year.

In a comparison of which career is the most lucrative, Pharmacy graduates were the top graduate earners in 2013, taking home RM3,640 a month, followed by graduates who worked in corporate strategy (RM3,200) and financial services (RM3,054), according to an online job portal.

Increasingly, graduates are vying for graduate management training programmes offered by multinational corporations. These programmes often allow trainees to rotate between different departments so they can gain different skills.

There are various way to increase the employability of graduates — graduates are advised to brush up on their communication skills as well as clean up their social network profiles when applying for jobs.

As a local human resource recruiter says, employers do screen candidates on social media before making the final cut.

To increase the real-world work experience of students, universities and colleges are making internship a compulsory component in the course module.

Internship is the litmus test for undergraduates to decide whether it is the right career for them. 

While it is common to hear of students being given menial jobs during their internship, students should make use of the internship period to network and build their professional contacts.

At the same time, more undergraduates are already working part-time in their chosen fields before sailing on to expand their careers by the time they graduate.

Jesse Pizarro Boga was already employed as a journalist in a local newspaper when he was still a communications undergraduate.

“For two months after graduating, I stayed at home and did nothing. I considered that to be my break after the craziest year in university; working on my thesis, writing for the newspaper, finishing some courses and joining the dance varsity.

“I wasn’t exactly excited about working immediately after graduating because I already had working experience,” says the 24-year-old Davao City native from the Philippines.

Boga later returned to his job as a feature writer at the local newspaper after his break.

“My interest to learn more about journalism and writing made me continue with the job I had in university.

“Back then, I was interested with what I read and saw on the lifestyle pages. I covered similar stories so it was even more exciting for me,” says Boga.

He is currently on a one-year journalism fellowship in Hanoi, Vietnam, working at the English section of a local newspaper. 

Adapting to a new life in Vietnam presented several challenges to Boga initially as he had to learn to survive on pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup) without his favourite American fastfood meal. 

However, he was very proud that he taught himself to cycle and navigate through the narrow streets of Hanoi.

“Vietnam has been a wonderful learning experience for me. During my stay, I got to learn a lot of things about myself as I learnt about others. 

“There’s so much that we should discover about our neighbouring Asean countries!” says Boga who still has about a month to go in Hanoi before his fellowship ends.

Tags / Keywords: Education , Options , graduation , workforce


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