Saturday, June 6, 2015

More than a Degree - Turisaina Tukiman

Today I saw my friend share a articles written by Turisaina Tukiman on Pulse. I think you should read this too.

My course-mates used to think that studying, going to classes and getting a CGPA of more than 3.5 is all that matters when you're in university. My family said that too. But boy, they couldn't be more wrong.

I am currently a trainer, teaching problem solving tools to youths in my country. My team and I travel far from north to south, central to even crossing the ocean. We went to almost every state in the country. 

Although it is an exciting job to inspire and motivate youths on problem solving, it could also be frustrating sometimes. Just imagine I travel 5-6 hours by car just to give a free training to youths but end up with a shitty crowd who couldn't care less. I remember their types. They were same as my course-mates during my Degree. 

1. Trying to change their mindset is my toughest challenge yet. Whenever we go down to solving problems, at solutioning stage, more often than not, they would often say, "The government should do this... The government should do that..." It truly was a face-palm moment for me. And I would always tell them, that my friends who are entrepreneurs or change makers agree to this sentiment, "Changes never start with the government. It starts with one person who is frustrated, angry and upset with how things are the way they are and then they decide to do something about it." Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. But, all I can say is that I tried my best to eradicate that mindset. All I can do now is hope. 

2. Sometimes a vacant position opens up and we promote the news to our previous participants (from the training). The candidates are almost hopeless. The portfolios they brought for us to see (if they brought it), has little or none experience from outside of their university. They'd just show us their assignments. And when I ask them, what other experiences they have besides inside the classroom, I think you can predict what their answer is. And it is just frustrating.

Based on a study conducted, students think it is the educator's responsibility to train them on the skills employers are looking for when hiring. Educators are torn between putting the responsibility on themselves and employers or on the students. For employers, most of them believe it should be the responsibility of the educators.

What conclusion can we draw from this? That none of them; neither students, educators nor employers, see it as their responsibility to teach them on these necessary skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Basic ICT skills
  • Problem solving skills

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the students themselves to acquire those skills. I still remember during my university years, I spent almost all of my free time doing extracurricular activities. I did event management to project management to training. Not saying that I'm spectacular because I'm not. But, all of these helped me to market myself out there. 

Late last year, I went to Singapore for an ASEAN Forum. There, while I was pitching my program enthusiastically to a stranger I just met 5 minutes ago, I saw a familiar face. A judge from my pitching session from about 3 years ago. And she remembered me. She remembered my name. The guy I was pitching to, he told her that I got him excited with my team's program and she nodded, saying that she remembered my passion. This word of mouth is really helpful in building my reputation. It could help me get my next job in the industry.

Just these past few weeks, I got 2 job offers from startups. The offer came from people I've worked with. They know how I work. That's why they believe in me. Their recommendations will do me good. They will serve me well. 

Point us. I didn't start this journey just after I've graduated. I started this journey a long time ago because I knew I needed to have something unique to compete against my ex course-mates and other candidates. My commitment and passion towards my extra curricular activities just simply gave me a good start in the job hunt. A little bit of something is definitely better than nothing. 

And even now, I find learning to be vital as a trainer. I need to know more than the participants. Because I hate to be put in the hot seat where I know less than them. It is my job to teach them so that means I have to be 3-4 steps ahead. Reading helps. Watching Ted Talk helps. Doing research helps. Creating helps. Anything helps. Just as long as I keep growing, then I know I'll be fine. 

So those of you who are still studying in your college or university, market yourself out there. Have the thirst for experience. Have the hunger of making mistakes. It's important to break that shell, network with strangers and do things. Dare to be different. Dare to explore. Dare to adventure. 

Education isn't your Degree. It is lessons of which cannot be learned within the four walls. 

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