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Lessons a Globe-Trotting Mentee Would Like to Share

by Jo Yee Phang | 9 Mar 2017

II am part of an institution called Minerva Schools, a university that offers an undergraduate program. The program combines four years of world travel with rigorous, interdisciplinary study. Alongside being a student, I work for the institution as part of the student outreach team. As a result, I have spent my last few years travelling the globe, working and studying. I decided to take what may be considered an unconventional path because I believe taking paths that nurture our strengths is what will lead to success in our own right. By now, I have lived and worked in over 10 diverse countries including America, Germany, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. The biggest lessons I have picked up from my broad exposure has been: 1.   Embrace change. If there is anything a university like Minerva makes extremely clear through this program, it is that historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Thomas Friedman’s perspective­­­ that “The world is flat”, advocates for this view by criticizing societies that do not embrace change which comes as a result of these divisions breaking down. A major reason we must learn to embrace change is because globalisation is changing the core economy every day. Companies like Uber and Amazon epitomise this, and this is the direction the world is moving in. In order to thrive personally and professionally in a new global society, a great rule of thumb is to learn to embrace change and update our skills alongside it. This is something I decided to do when I applied to a university like Minerva as someone who naturally enjoys the comfort and familiarity home has to provide. 2.   Gauge the demand for a skill, and acquire it. I was a typical product of the national education system upon finishing high school. Memorising and regurgitation without consideration for the information was what I was taught and excelled in. For that reason, I would place critical and creative thinking, as well as effective communication as the top three skills I have learned over the last few years. Working with Minerva made me realise the need for these skills in order to do well both academically and professionally. These skills enabled me to examine different ways I could use to better myself. This was especially true in my interactions with individuals from different countries. I realized that in order to secure their commitment to get things done, I needed to grow or learn something new. This reinforces my point that at every step, we need to measure what is important and do the necessary to acquire it. This will also broaden your appeal to a very wide group of people, in whose hands your next job could be. “By now, I have lived and worked in over 10 diverse countries including America, Germany, Taiwan, and Bangladesh.”   3.   Look at every individual as a teacher. The uniqueness that every person brings with them has something to teach us. I am a part of a group of 120 students representing 30 countries; together we move from one country to another while we go through university. From the way we think, to our ways, to how we each react in every situation in a different country, there is a monumental amount to be learned from each individual. I believe a lot of my lessons have come from outside the formal curriculum. I have learned and grown a lot more outside my classroom than within my classroom. These differences were quickly brought to consciousness when I was placed in a diverse group where there were stark differences between members. It was after a couple of semesters, when I visited home, that I realised that individuality exists within our Malaysian society too. If we are observant enough, there is something to learn from everyone regardless where you are and who is around you. As a result, you learn and develop by watching others. 4.   Get exposed to situations outside your comfort zone. Getting experience overseas was beneficial in my self-development. As part of my undergraduate program at Minerva, I was immersed in the culture of a different city every semester to build on my global exposure. As a result, my knowledge base and experiences that I can draw on is constantly expanding. This has given me the ability to understand the differences and uniqueness of the cultures that makes this world the way it is. For example, if you are someone whose aim is to have a global career, knowing the different rules of engagement in respective national job markets is important. It is essential to understand and learn to deal with cultural differences at every point in time. It is essential to be aware of and engage with cultural differences as much as possible. That is one way to become individuals who will be welcomed and engaged. Although it may sound like the only way to do this is through visiting different countries, that privilege may not be in everyone’s hands. That’s where platforms such as FutureLab come in handy. Thanks to globalisation and its effects, the ‘world is flat’, you have the ability to get global exposure within your four walls. 5.   Pursue what you want, not the wishes of others. The idea of attending a university like Minerva was not one that appealed to my circle initially. The idea was outside their comfort zone but I chose the road that I felt would challenge me.  Currently, I juggle studies and work, and I am performing at my optimum level. I give the credit to the path that motivates me. Essentially, build a life that you want to live and in that process be willing to learn and change. Be the best you can! I will end this article by sharing some words from Bianca Sparacino, “Do not chase another human being. Instead, chase your curiosity. Chase your development and your goals. Chase your passion” I’d like to end this article by saying, it would have been a lot more comfortable for me to have remained within my boundaries had I not chosen Minerva. Being a part of Minerva forces me to constantly face my fears of venturing beyond my comfort zone. For that reason, I condone doing something everyday that pushes your boundaries. By limiting yourself to what you already know, you are also likely to be missing out on personal growth, life experiences and professional opportunities. Off to Argentina I fly!! Written by: Arvvin Maniam

Nail the “Tell Me About Yourself” Job Interview Question

by Neekita Patel | 11 Apr 2017

The first question you are probably going to get in an interview  is the much dreaded classic and universal, “Tell me about yourself.” A simple question that quickly turns daunting when asked in that setting. Most job seekers hate it because it is simply difficult to decipher what the interviewer is looking for. But, it does not have to be that hard. Infact, this is a great  opportunity for you to take control of the interview and position yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.Your answer and how well you tell your story will drive the rest of the interview. In our opinion, the better you start, the better you finish. First, let’s understand a little bit about why do interviewers ask you this question. Do they really want to know you, that too on a personal level? Chances are, no. A FutureLab mentor summed it us up for us nicely, and said the reason for this question is: 1. To see how you respond to an unstructured question 2. To learn about what you deem important at that point in time   Next, how do you prepare for it? To nail the question, think of it as a pitch. 1.Research and Practice: organise your information using a formula   Research and practice key is but also remember to never memorise. An interview is a dialogue, not a monologue. When digging for information, use the widely famous interview question formula to organise and link it with the company and its job description: past-present-future. Naturally, anyone would be to talk about the past first then the present. The Muse suggests mixing it up: “So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.” 2.  Show relevance and highlight your selling points; your key strengths as they relate to the position you’re interviewing for   If you repeat details stated in your CV, cover letter and application, it is likely your interview will end prematurely. Instead, show the interviewer you understand the experiences, skills and abilities which are relevant to the position. Focus on things the company places value on. Highlight your unique skills, talents, leadership attributes and professional experiences which are most relevant to the position. Just like your cv and cover letter, tailor your answers to the company’s needs. But what if you don’t have any professional experience? For someone who’s more entry-level and doesn’t really have a career to describe yet, the answer would be more forward-looking. Think academic achievements, voluntary and charity world. 3. Tell them why you are here End by telling them why you are there and why you want the position. We advise you to think of yourself as a product that will be bought by a company. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the interviewer already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.   At FutureLab, we have career mentors to support you for your job interview preparation. Sign up here to speak with them now!   A special thanks to all the FutureLab mentors who contributed to this article: M&A Manager at Ernst & Young (Malaysia) – Rishi Das || Former Strategy Advisor at Shell (Malaysia) – Vijay Kumar || Continuous Improvement Engineer at Morgan Advanced Material (United Kingdom)- Thatchu Selvarajan ||Teacher at Keningau Vocational College (Malaysia) –  Sirhajwan Idek || Global Value Change Manager at Petronas (Malaysia) – Soham Basu || Partner at Grant Thornton (Malaysia) – Kishan Jasani  

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FutureLab Campus Heroes Interviews: Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY on Esports at EY

by FutureLab | 8 Nov 2017

Following are excerpts from a FutureLab Campus Heroes interview with Jeremy Tay & Jing Yih and Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY (Malaysia)     CH: Tell us the history of the Esports team in EY YK: The Esports team in EY was established last year (2016). I was trying to initiate Esports here after realising that the Esports industry was growing. I organised a friendly interfirm game as a proof of concept. The proof of concept was successful and as a result, Esports was incorporated into the interfirm (Intra EY) games this year. The existence of Esports and our ability to gather a team to represent EY in Esports led to our involvement at the IAFG (Inter-accounting Firm Games). There are many Esports teams in EY, but only the best players represent EY at tournaments. The decision on best players are made based on observation when tournaments take place. The team that will be playing at FutureLab’s Dota Tournament consist of 2 individuals from Advisory and 2 from Audit.   CH: Why did your team join FutureLab’s Dota 2 Tournament? YK: For a few reasons, (1) it will be great exposure for us. We have only played against other accounting firms so far and it will be interesting for us to play against companies from different industries and university students. I assume the university students will be really good at this. (2) It is a good opportunity for us to show that EY is not all about long hours and (3) to acquire talents. Co-curricular activities do hold weight when it comes to talent acquisition. EY Partners treat the IAFG as an important event and that is one of the reasons individuals who play sports appeal to us. This year was the first time we had a Dota team for IAFG. We played against 11 firms and secured 3rd place.   CH: How has your team been preparing for the tournament? YK: We play pub games to train. For IAFG particularly, we asked other teams to train with us. Post training we meet up for post mortems to discuss our mistakes and areas of improvement.   CH: Does the existence of the Esports team in EY fall to help employees strike work-life balance? How else does EY encourage employees to strike work life balance? YK: Playing Esports or any sports in EY does help with work-life balance and it is something EY is proud of. Our seniors are very supportive of it and have showed up to a lot of games. Apart from encouraging participation in tournaments such as FutureLab’s, IAFG, we have annual dinners, social nights and festival celebrations. Individual departments also take charge of department specific trip. For example, my subline recently was in Redang to encourage team bonding. Some sublines and teams have even travelled overseas.   CH: Do students who play Esports have a competitive advantage when trying to set foot into the workforce? YK: It is not limited to Esports, any curricular activity is an added advantage. As for how gaming adds an advantage for day to day work, it improves strategic thinking ability and also helps to develop familiarity with technology. This is especially beneficial since we are moving towards a digital era. Being a gamer has also helped me to work more efficiently. An example is the short cut key. Surprisingly I find that it saves me time. I also use my gaming mouse for work because I macro some of the functions into it.   CH: Are the any departments in EY that Esports players are best suited for? YK: I think any department will find talents who have the ability to strategically think and adapt useful. CH: What do you want to say to the teams facing EY at the FutureLab Dota Tournament? YK: Good luck and have fun!   Interested to attend the Dota 2 Tournament: Corporates vs Universities? Register here to attend it!       Written by: This article was written by Lim Jing Yih (extreme left) from SEGi College and Jeremy Tay (extreme right) from Monash Malaysia. They are both FutureLab Campus Heroes and are constantly looking for ways to bridge the gap between education and career for themselves and their friends. 

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Students: Get a head start on your career— as a FutureLab Campus Writer

by FutureLab | 18 Jan 2018

There’s a lot you can do on FutureLab to help you get ahead in your career and find your way in to new opportunities — regularly writing on FutureLab and sharing your experiences and perspective is certainly one of them. It’s a great way to build up your reputation on a topic and get noticed by others in your industry who have similar interests. With this in mind, we are launching our Campus Writer program, enabling university students to begin writing and growing their own active communities on FutureLab alongside many influential mentors. Our Campus Writers operate much like journalists, working with our content team to pitch ideas, write and edit articles, and publish stories on FutureLab. As a FutureLab CampusHero, we also encourage Campus Writers to encourage their peers on campus to write about things that matter to them. This program aims to help Campus Writers communicate and connect with a variety of professionals and unlock everything from internships and job offers to speaking event invites and re-publishing offers from news publications. And today, we’re excited to say we’re accepting applications for our first batch of Campus Writers. To sweeten the deal for this year’s Campus Writer, each student will receive a referral letter from industry leaders, a personal mentor to develop a skillset, network expansion, a platform to grow, quarterly FutureLab credits.  Interested? Here’s what we’re looking for: You love creating and finding great content You want to understand how content creation and distribution works at scale You have a deep belief that the student voice matters and want to help bring those perspectives to a wide audience You are ambitious, driven, passionate and collaborative You are deadline-driven and committed to completing tasks If this sounds like a fit, submit an application today!   We can’t wait to welcome our very first class of #StudentLeaders!

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