According to the Department of Statistics, 26 private and 20 public universities in Malaysia send out more than 180,000 graduates into the workforce every year. This does not include graduates from universities abroad who are job-seeking in Malaysia.
Graduate programmes allow fresh graduates to undergo job rotations, formal/informal training and the potential to fast-track their careers in a structured-learning process. They are usually 12 to 24 months in duration and have a high selection criteria including grades, co-curricular activities and communication skills.
Just because you studied accounting doesn’t mean you need to look for a graduate programme in accounting. Do an online search and figure out which industry you would like to be a part of. The great thing about programmes like these is that they employ graduates from all disciplines.
The best way to start is to attend a career fair. Before going for a one, make a top 10 list of preferred graduate programmes and make sure that the first 10 booths you visit are those on your list. Be sure to come prepared, as there may be opportunities for on-the-spot interviews.
There isn’t an exact format but usually during the early stages of the interview process, your profile will be evaluated and placed in three categories. Red for a no-go, amber for a “call her maybe” and green for “get-him/her-in-and-get-that-person-fast!”. Try to highlight parts of your profile that set you apart so that you would likely be placed in the green zone.
Like a fish hooked on bait, think of a memorable story during your student days that would ‘hook’ your prospective employer during the interview process. This will help you stand out during the interview.
As a part of a graduate programme, you will have a good chance to engage with senior leaders in the organisation. Take this golden opportunity to make a positive impression by being well read about matters in the industry or being sure about how you can contribute to the organisation.
The high supply of graduates in the workforce means there will be a strong competition getting into graduate programmes. Sharpen your interview skills and understand the organisation you are applying to. Find out about their values, core functions and plans for the future.
Don’t be disappointed if you fail to get in the first few times. Use these experiences as learning points and get ready to try again. You may be rejected at the interview stage or when you are one signature away from signing the offer letter. Every failure can become a stepping stone in the process of securing a place in a great graduate programme.
In conclusion, take note that even when you are looking for the best organisation to work in, organisations are in turn looking for the best graduates to work for them. Enjoy the process and all the best in being part of a graduate programme of your choice!
Jason Lee has walked this talk and today is part of Standard Chartered Bank’s International Graduate programme in Kuala Lumpur. If you would like to engage with Lee, you can connect with him at @jasonleecj on Twitter.
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