MAKING a decision on what to do after the SPM and STPM is never easy.
Experts at the Star Education Fair 2017 last weekend shared advice and answered questions from both students and their parents on the next step.
Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) guest speaker Wesley Chan captured the audience’s attention with the cartoon theme song from The Powerpuff Girls.
Chan’s session focused on helping students find their “Chemical X” – the main ingredient used to create the Powerpuff girls – for their career path.
Students were asked to complete a core value test, where they narrowed down their top five values that could help them decide what they should study in line with their career plans.
“It is important to reflect on values which spark your fire. Your ambition must relate back to your values, which are your judgment and belief on what is important to you,” said Chan.
Vijayakumar Paramasavin brought his two daughters, Pavitra, 11, and Shumitraa, 9. to the fair to expose them to possible career paths in the future.
“Chan’s talk was an eye opener and very useful for my children,” said Vijayakumar.
Students uncertain of their next step also took a career test to get a clearer idea for the future. Conducted by SEGi University and Colleges, the test helped students gauge interest and preference in fields that may suit them.
SEGi University and Colleges counselor Lynne Chuah said a majority of students were unsure of their preferences.
“Many students I counseled have no preference at all and end up studying what parents choose for them,” she added.
A career test, she said, would help narrow down choices and give them direction.
Twins Siah Ian Jay and Ian Hanz, 16, described the career test as helpful, and said they went for it to determine if their personalities suit the career they already planned to have.
“Counselors on the ground guided me and gave constructive advice, which helped me determine what I chose is what I really want,” said Ian Jay, who plans to be a concept artist.
Ian Hanz, who wants to delve into psychology or early childhood education, nodded in agreement and said the test enhanced his “sureness” in either of these two fields.
Interests are vital
During his talk “So You Want To Be A Doctor” at the Star Education Fair 2017, MAHSA University’s Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Ravindran Jegasothy strongly discouraged potential medical students from taking up medicine if they’re only in it for the money.
“Another bad reason is because parents want their children to become doctors or they have siblings who are doctors,” he told the crowd on the first day of the fair.
Instead, he said, those interested in becoming doctors should do so because “they want to serve mankind” or they were inspired by doctors who have treated their sick relatives or friends.
Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia clinical senior lecturer Dr Ong Gim Seong kept the crowd captivated during his talk on “Career Pathways in Medicine”.
He shared stories about his time in the emergency room and operating theatre.
“The decision to become doctors has to come from the child. You should talk to other doctors, specialists or role models to learn what it’s really like in the field,” he said.
Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare College head of marketing and business development Dr Nagib Karmali encouraged the students to do their homework on their chosen careers and courses.
“There is a strong link between the career you choose and your purpose in life,” he said during his talk on “Career in Healthcare”.
During the Engineering segment at the talks, University of Southampton Malaysia Campus lecturer Dr Beh Shiao Lin highlighted “the big four” of engineering - civil, computer, mechanical, electrical engineering - and debunked some myths about the industry.
“Engineering involves designing, developing, testing and so much more,” he said, adding engineers need to constantly keep themselves updated on the latest happenings and technologies to stay relevant.
Dr Beh also gave tips on the route to becoming a professional engineer.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s private wing (UTMSpace) Special Degree Programme general manager Dr Norhani Bakri highlighted that students can sign up for its engineering direct intake programme that begins in September, without having to apply through the Student Entry Administration Department of the Higher Education Ministry.
“Those who join us will get a global educational experience through a comprehensive teaching and learning process,” she said.
She also spoke on the various types of study programmes that UTMSpace offers, as well as its facilities.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman chemical engineering department Assoc Prof Dr Lai Soon Onn spoke on the importance of engineering towards a country’s development and economic growth.
“We live in a convenient world with access to water, entertainment, healthcare, travel, and more.
“These are all possible thanks to engineering, but we often take it for granted,” he said.
Dr Lai also pointed out the differences between engineering and science programmes.
Students and parents walked away with interesting facts about psychology after an insightful 45-minute talk by Sunway University Department of Psychology head (Academic) Prof Hew Gill.
He captured the crowd’s attention with ease and “marketed” the advantages of studying psychology, which he described as a “uniquely sociable science” that equips a student for success in any career.
Psychology, said Prof Gill, makes a person internationally valuable and future-proof from jobs that may disappear overtime as changes in industries occur.
“It is the art of understanding people. Knowing how people behave, think, and construct the world is the key of being business ready,” he said.
Algerian Jawad Haoui, 15, who lives in Malaysia with his parents, said the talk by Prof Gill sparked his interest to become a psychologist.
“It was an interesting session, and it made me realise that this profession is future-proof,” he said.
“I came to the fair again to broaden my knowledge of the education system in Malaysia and listen to the talks,” added Haoui, who also visited the fair’s January edition.
His father Riadh Haoui said: “The fair and talks exposed him to more information on what is available here.”
IACT College chief operating officer Lawrence Chan who gave a talk on “Cashing In On Your Creativity”, said creativity is in all of us.
“Creativity is a new way of doing something old,” he added.
It was full house at the Study and Work Overseas talks. Parents and students were in for a lively talk during the “Study in Holland - Open to International Minds” talk by Embassy of the Netherlands education promotion officer Inty Dienasari who held an interactive quiz test at the end of her session.
Dienasari said in the Netherlands, it is not a requirement for students to learn Dutch as at least 90% of its citizens speak English.
“Language is not a barrier. Learning Dutch makes it easier for students to get by but it is not necessary to learn,” she added.
Dienasari said universities in Netherlands use the European Credit Transfer system, which gives students the flexibility to transfer their studies to other European varsities.
Selset Education Centre marketing executive Philip Chow presented a talk on “Study Options in New Zealand”.
“New Zealand has always been famous for its outdoor experiences” he said.
KDU University College School of Computing and Creative Media head Tan Chin Ike presented his talk on the differences between software development and computer science, and what students should choose.
His talk focused on the key areas of computing and what each key component does.
During his talk on “Dream Job and Right Degree, Way To The Top”, Mahebub Chatur focused on the opportunities that open up should students study dual degrees.
“Currently, many students are taking one degree. They are not aware that they can take dual degrees in the same period of time,” he said.
Berjaya University College of Hospitality School of Tourism head Kit Thong who presented a talk titled “Step into an Exciting Career in Events Management”, said the responsibility of an event manager is huge. “It is a job that has become increasingly important because events are on a bigger scale,” she added.
Think City Sdn Bhd programme executive (urban solutions department) Liyana Che Ismail presented a talk titled “Improving Cities One Community At A Time: Through the Eyes Of Urban Design and Architecture Graduates”.
She said: “Whatever path you choose to take, think of a way you can use the skills you have acquired from your university days for the greater good.”
Sunway Education Group Events and Outreach Programmes senior manager Cindy Chow said there had been a consistent stream of visitors at their booth.
“Our counsellors would usually ask them questions to try and figure out what students are interested in,” she added.
Fee waivers were offered to students who signed up for some of Linton University College’s programmes.
Its deputy vice-chancellor (strategic development) Alla Kasava Rao said prospective students who signed up for certification programmes during the fair would not be charged.
MAHSA University sales manager Jay Ramanathan said many students in Forms Four and Five who visited the booth were interested in the pre-university courses offered at the institution.
One of the university’s student volunteers Hanisha Lavinia Victor, 20, said most of the enquiries were from parents rather than students themselves.
The second year diploma student added that parents wanted to know more about the learning environment at MAHSA University.
A group of international student volunteers from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology also shared their experiences.
Broadcast Journalism students Ma Ya Wen, from China and Alina Zhiyenbayeva, from Kazakhstan said they were glad to have the opportunity to represent the university at the fair.
Ma, 21, said the fair was a also chance for her to practise her communication skills while Zhiyenbayeva, 20, said her role was to draw and help the crowd navigate around the university’s booths.
International business student Valeriya Andriyanova, 21, from Turkmenistan, said being a student ambassador allowed her to meet different people.
“Its been the best experience since coming to Malaysia.”
Design student Claudia Toth, 20, from Venezuela, said she was happy to share what it’s like to be a student at the university.
Postgraduate student Nadia Metassan, 26, from Brunei, said: “We get to share about our university.”