Hi all. I was browsing through my emails when I came across this mini-journal, intended as part of my report for the Jejak Universiti programme held for Emas Hitam G3 last year. I learnt a lot from the programme but unfortunately couldn’t share notes with everyone. Here I enclose an exact copy of said journal (with some minor grammar tweaks) that i hope might provide some useful insight as well as a form of future reference for myself.
6th May 2016
6th May 2016 marked the starting of the Jejak Universiti journey for Emas Hitam Generation III. In the midst of pre-exam week, I was worried nonetheless on how this trip would affect my exam performance, but despite my worries, my excitement was clear. I knew that joining Jejak Universiti was a valuable opportunity to be treasured. Besides, as a boarding school student mostly confined to pretty much maktab grounds only, any opportunity to step to the outside world was an opportunity to be treasured.
We departed from college by bus, heading south-bound towards Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, the university in collaboration with Emas Hitam for this program. It was a long journey and the majority of us slept most of the way, even though a lot of us planned to study prior to journey. Haha.
Upon reaching Kuala Lumpur, the bus made its way to Universiti Malaya International House, where we were expected to stay for the duration of our program. Our lodgings were beautiful, equipped with facilities that made our stay very comfortable (see: air conditioned rooms and round-the-clock WiFi services). The view of the city skyline was also the cherry on top of the cake for me. At night, you could see the silhouette of the city skyscrapers against the night sky. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
We were given time to freshen ourselves up and gather at 8 pm, where we then made our way to University Malaya lecture hall for a short briefing on tomorrow’s event. There, we were greeted by Professor Rafiq along with a few alumni of MRSM, including the President of ANSARA, Encik Ihsan. Professor Rafiq talked a bit about Universiti Malaya and then proceeded with the main purpose of the Jejak Universiti program. In his short talk, he addressed his concern on the current status quo of ‘established secondary education institutes’ churning out students who are undeniably ‘book-smart’ but do not have enough real world skills that the global industry is looking for. Although he did not mention it, I had a feeling these ‘secondary-institutes’ mainly referred to the MRSM system. This has been the recurring pattern for the past few years and he wanted to do something to put an end to it. He said that soft-skills that aren’t taught as part of the school syllabus are really the skills that will help you get far in life. Merely having good grades just isn’t enough anymore.
The impact of his words dripped heavily on me, I always thought my soft skills were underdeveloped, and I knew I had to do something to progress. Jejak Universiti in a way provided me with that extra push and self-realization to start improving myself, bit by bit.
Prof. Rafiq also managed to talk a little about his achievements in the fiber optics industry. Among Dr Rafiq’s many achievement, he has published more than 100 journals and conference papers on optics and engineering education. His PhD work on Flat Fiber also produced an international patent. His success story truly ignited the anak bangsa spirit in me and made me realize that there are no barriers to success. It all goes out to hard work, perseverance, and the courage to seize opportunities.
7th May 2016
We started our day with a visit to one of Dr. Rafiq’s fiber optics laboratory. I was really excited to have the chance to enter a laboratory that most 17 year olds can only dream of entering. In the small but multipurpose lab, I got to see first-hand how the fiber optics (including the international patented flat fiber) was manufactured. It was really interesting to see the complex machine at work. It gave me insight on the true advancement of the engineering sector in Malaysia and proved that we are truly doing well as a developing country.
After experiencing the wonders of optic fibers production, next up was a tour around the University Malaya campus. Boasting the largest campus grounds in Malaysia, we weren’t short of things to see and admire. On foot, we were able to climb up a tree house, play in a hedge maze and even feed ducks! The campus was indeed beautiful and full of lush greenery. It filled me with childlike wonder and I’m sure most of my friends had the same joy in them as well.
At half past 10 we piled into the bus and made our way one of the many faculty buildings in UM. After a quick brunch, we were gathered at the most comfortable ‘lecture’ hall I’ve ever seen. The room had humungous bean bags and everything! There, we had several career talks from distinguished professors and alumni who have all made it up the ladder of success. The career talks were broken down into different career courses, such as Artificial Intelligence under Computer Science, Medic, Accountings, Economy, Entrepreneurship and so much more. I was mostly intrigued by the topic of Artificial Intelligence or A.I. as it is a field study that is rarely exposed to students. I even managed to speak to the Computer Science professor to ask further questions during break time. It was amazing.
I honestly learned so many things from the career talks. Things you do not learn in the classroom. For instance, I now realize that the prospects of each branch of study isn’t as narrow as it is made out to be. For example, a medic student’s career path is not merely confined to the medic sector, there is no problem for he/she to get involved in the management or business sector, provided that it is under the branch of medicine. Career prospects are far wider than we think, one’s options are always open.
Besides, there was one entrepreneur who shared with us his rags-to-riches story. He described how he struggled to make ends meet in his first few years in the business sector. At a low point in his life, he persevered and pulled himself up and most importantly, did not quit. Now, he owns more than 50 petrol stations and is a multi-millionaire. It just goes to show that success comes with hard work and diligence.
The career talks ended in the evening. Despite being exhausted, we learned a lot from the various talks. We made our way back to the International House to get some rest. The sky started to look gray.
After freshening ourselves up, we got ready to head to Subway Bukit Jelutong, for a chit-chat session with the alumni of MJSC Taiping. At Subway, the friendly Subway owner, who also happened to be an alumni of MJSC Taiping, greeted us warmly.
Over the course of the mingling session with the alumni, we had the golden opportunity to mix around with alumni from all walks of life and all branches of careers. There were doctors, lawyers, contractors, designers and so much more. It was like attending an education fair and getting real feedback about a career from people who are literally living the dream, not from those who are looking to increase their university enrolments.
I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat with one of the alumni who worked as a designer, an Industrial Designer. A career I have been interested in for a long time! Industrial designing is a career that do not have much exposure in Malaysia, so I was over the moon when I got the opportunity to talk to a living, breathing Industrial Designer.
I learned so much about industrial designing, such as how to get started on a portfolio, the career path towards industrial designing and its many career prospects. It gave me a new air of determination to work towards my ambition.
The clock struck 12, compelling us to close our chit-chat session which would otherwise prolonged until dawn. We took a few picture and said our goodbyes. Then we made our way back to our lodgings for some rest.
8th May 2016
I woke up at dawn to the most beautiful lilac sky, streaked with pink cotton candy clouds. It was the last day of Jejak Universiti. The final day we could enjoy before we had to return to college and face the reality of the impending exams.
We solemnly packed our bags and loaded them into the bus. Before heading home, there was one last stop to be made, which is a visit to DRB-Hicom. As an additional tie-in to our Jejak Universiti program, we also had the chance to participate in Jejak industri. Much like Jejak U, Jejak Industri focused on exposing students to real workings of the job industry (in this case, from the perspective of a giant corporation).
As usual, we had a short briefing about what DRB-Hicom really was, its vision and mission as well as what it stands for. We were graced with the presence of Dato’ Ahmad Fuaad, the President of Proton who gave a very inspiring speech. Our very own respected counselor, Cikgu Abdullah, was also able to give a short speech on that day. After that we had a short tour of the Alam Flora department and participated in a few activites.
To me, the speeches given played the most impact. again, most of the content stressed on the importance of acquiring enough soft skills which includes leadership, communication skills and more. This just proves that soft skills are indeed important in this globalized era.
After lunch, we departed back to college. Along the journey home I had the chance to reflect and introspect the things I have learned throughout this whole program. I realize how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to participate in such an eye-opening program. When I return, I want to share notes with everyone so that they may gain the same knowledge I have gained from this short trip.