‘Be realistic’

CHOOSING what to study need not be stressful and confusing with the proper support.

School career counsellors, said Malaysian Mental Health Association president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj, can be of great assistance in helping children handle pushy parents and and in guiding those who are uncertain about their future.

He also recommended getting feedback from someone who has made a successful career in the field one is interested in as that person would be in the best position to offer a realistic opinion of things.

“Schools should invite representatives from different professions to speak about themselves in front of the class as this can help students understand their true calling,” Dr Mohanraj offered.

It is common for students, said Taylor’s University counselling services centre head Ng Shan Na, to be unsure of what they want, especially those who are fresh out of school.

“Their desires and identities are still being formed. At times, they may not know how to plan for themselves, or are overwhelmed with too much information on the many programmes out there.

“Sometimes, they land themselves in a course that they are not keen on because they are trying to fulfil their parents’ ambitions for them,” she noted.

Ng advised students to think carefully about a course or programme before signing up for it.

While passion and interest are important, it is equally crucial to be realistic about how a particular course or programme can prepare one for the career one wants.

“Identify your own preference, weigh the pros and the cons and be accountable for your choice because it is your journey to travel,” she said.

Dr Mohanraj called on students to be more involved in extracurricular work projects so that they are exposed to the different professions and what these entail.

Such exposure can shape young minds and help with the decision-making process, he added.

Dr Mohanraj reminded students to do thorough research when picking a course or programme.

“Many young adults these days try out different courses and professions because they went into it without knowing much. And they fail.

“This can lead to a waste of time, money and effort,” he said, adding that students should never choose a career for glamour or earning potential.

Instead, it is better to go for a career that is fulfilling.

“Every profession is dignified and has high standards. Professionals from different fields complement each other to build a society.

“As a society, we must show equal respect to all professions and not look up certain ones while looking down on others,” said Dr Mohanraj.


“I did pretty well in my SPM and always dreamt of becoming a cardiologist. But when it came time to make the big decision, I couldn’t think straight. I received many different offers, but the one that stood out from the rest was aircraft engineering. I was interested in the salary I would be earning as I wanted to help my family. I passed the entrance test which assessed my English and soft skills, and went for an interview where I was asked basic stuff about aircraft engineering, which I knew nothing about. I was accepted into the course but I could not afford it. I then decided to do a business diploma because my parents told me that business was a wide field and there would be many opportunities. I listened to them and ended up struggling because I had no passion for business. I left just after a month and decided to do a diploma in accounting because I loved mathematics. I still found myself doing something I didn’t like but this time, I went through with it. I continued with a degree in accounting for some unknown reason but did not graduate due to poor grades. My parents told me not to give up and to do a degree in business administration. Now, I am finally doing something I’m interested in and like. My advice to those in the midst of deciding a career path is to pick something that you are interested in. Think about passion, not money.”

Kirent Mogan, 24

Bachelor in Business Administration“I was a decent student in school and received decent grades in my SPM. When I was a child, I always wanted to be a pilot or a mechanic because I loved planes and cars and when it was time to pick a career, I got an offer for an automotive course. I was quite interested in accepting the offer but my parents told me to attend Form Six and go to a good university instead. I struggled in Form Six and didn’t perform well. My STPM results were quite bad and I felt like I had wasted two years of my life. I took some time to think and to do some research on different career paths that would suit me best. I attended a career fair and after looking through hundreds of brochures, I decided to study for a mass communication degree. My brother played a huge part in my decision and told me that it was a wide field that would allow me to get hired easily. I did quite well and grew to love the course which had many interesting activities and assignments. My career advice? Just go with the flow because you will never get a clear picture till you try something new. But whatever you do, continue your studies after you finish the SPM because without an education, your life will be difficult.”

Megat Hairy Ezreen, 24

Bachelor of Communication“Both my parents did not pursue higher education but they taught my siblings and me to study and to work very hard. The typical Chinese way of bringing up children is to ensure that they do well in their studies, and end up with a good job and a good salary. My parents gave me the freedom to pick between the science or arts stream when I was in secondary school. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to study science – a field which I was most interested in. Science is a very colourful route to a good career path. My love for eating and my love for biology and chemistry led me to discovering food science as a career. I was very intrigued by the course and did my research on it. So, my career is also partly my hobby. It is always good to combine your passion with your interest because you will probably be doing this for the rest of your life. If you choose something you like, you will be successful.”

Chew Huei Chin, 25

Master of Science (Food Science)

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