Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To degree or not to degree?

What does it mean to be properly educated in this country? Does it mean that we have to constantly memorize and understand hundreds of theories as well as facts given in schools or universities? We leave school or university a few years later, with only mere 10 weeks of internship. 

What do we do in internships? Cutting out newspapers? Rearranging files in the storage room? Then, comes graduation. Thousands of hopeful graduates are ecstatic to earn good salaries and experience what it is like to work in the world they have read from reading the books. 

But, how many jobs are out there that graduates can apply? How many jobs out there match the degrees taken by the graduates? Many people end up doing other things than what they have studied. 

But one thing that always makes me wonder is, why do a lot of companies, even the well-known ones can only pay fresh graduates salaries below than RM1000 for starters? The salary scale in Malaysia is relatively low, especially in Borneo. Fresh graduates are often offered RM 600 - RM 900. Employers everywhere express that graduates constantly ask for ridiculously high salaries, and that is one of the reasons they refuse to hire them. 

One question, how high is the salary asked by the graduates? In my opinion, if a fresh graduate asks for RM 2000 per month, that is totally his or her mistake, because that is plain outrageous. But to ask just RM 1200 - RM 1600 is often viewed as too much? It's difficult to live with RM 900 per month, let alone RM 700. There are bills to pay, goals to achieve and family to support. Pardon me if I'm wrong, but one works to afford one's own goals to have things in life. 

So, what is considered as 'unacceptable' or 'nonsensical'? The fact that graduates lack experience or the fact that they have degrees from universities yet they're paid RM 800 per month? What is the point for students to pursue tertiary education if this is what they'll be offered once they leave university? The salary given is what school leavers get when they work in coffee shops as part time jobs. Let's not consider those who didn't excel in studies, surely they're out of the question in this scenario. 

How about those with CGPA 3.0 and above? Sometimes I think we all should've just stopped studying after SPM and start working. We get the same pay which comes with same expectations from employers. They still want people with years and years of experience. Training is hard to come by, and when it does, it is done in a manner where one senior worker is assigned to supposedly 'teach' everything to a new worker in the company. 

And then comes the argument about graduates not being able to converse and write articulately in English. Yes, there are probably thousands out there who are still struggling to speak in good English and there are also those who CAN speak and write fluently. They still don't get hired or are underpaid. That is the use of telephone interview and resume reviewing system, no? Sometimes I think it's just one weak reason made by employers not to hire the newbies, so that they can avoid spending their resources on training and development. 

I am a fresh graduate. I've started working from year 2008. My first job was a waitressing stint at Hilton Hotel. I quite liked that job, it opened my eyes to many aspects of working life. I also met a lot of people with different characters and preferences. My favorite one has got to be when I worked at Four Points Sheraton. I actually got involved in some of the training activities held by the Human Resource Department.

So, when employers offer RM 700 per month, I cringe a little, because I always ask myself, is this how much my degree's worth? Can I sell my degree for that amount? Might as well I never had to pursue my degree and saved myself from PTPTN misery?

I envy the education system in the West. They are more hands-on than theories. The students there get to do internships more than once and they get more exposure from working with various companies.

Therefore, should we all start working as clerks and expect pay as much as RM 700, and most probably do things that have nothing to do with our degrees? Will that count as experience? 

In short, how to gain experience when no one is willing to give you the opportunities? But when someones does, it is usually not what he/she has promised previously?


Mia said...

I assume you're from and working in East Malaysia? Thank you for writing this because it is really an eye-opener. I am surprised that the salary scale for Degree fresh grad there is below RM1000. I'm from Klang Valley and the lowest for a Degree fresh grad is probably RM1500. There's even a possibility to get a median of RM2400 if you're working in some good companies. I started off with RM2000 plus benefits such as medical.

I wonder if it is the case of cost of living. Klang Valley is expensive. Is it expensive there?

Honestly, I would love to know more about the corporate culture there. Drop me an email at miapunya@gmail.com if you're interested to chat about this.

Hermion Hester said...

everything you say here is so true! In sabah, the salary is super low and most fresh graduates are underpaid..sometimes got degree also useless. that explains y lots of young sabahan migrate to peninsular cause more jobs available there..but even though they earn 2k per month there,its hard for them to do saving also as the living cost in peninsula is high.


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