The Malaysian Career Fair (or ramblings of a final year student)

As a final year student (a fourth year at that, I feel so old!), the topic of jobs is unavoidable.  Final year Malaysian students the UK over look forward to the Malaysian Career Fair, an event whereby Malaysian companies fly to London and Malaysian would-be graduates flock there to try their luck at securing a job offer. This is how it works. Pay close attention on Facebook. About 2 months before the event, you’ll start seeing posts from UKEC (United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students) informing you of the date and venue. Sometime after, they will open the CV drive for you to submit your CVs. After this, you wait to hear from companies interested in offering you an interview. If you don’t receive any interview offers, don’t despair. Make your way to London anyway.

The event lasts 3 days. The first day of the event is a fair, as the name suggests. Companies will set up booths where you can approach them and ask them any questions about the company and the graduate programmes they offer in a casual setting. The remaining 2 days are for the interview sessions.

First tip for future would-be graduates, the event is always held in early April. For UoS students, it falls during the first week of our Easter break so don’t book your holidays during this date! And although the event lasts 3 days, plan to stay in London for at least one more day after the event as some companies hold their interviews a bit later. Some companies hold their interviews earlier which, unfortunately for UoS students, would mean missing a few days of lectures. I decided to decline my early interview because I didn’t want to miss any.

Second tip, get there early. The event starts at 9am. Make sure you’re there at 9am on the dot, or better yet, earlier! Two hours into the career fair and the place will be crowded. I started to get a headache at around 11am from sensory overload. Also, companies keep a few interview slots free for walk-in CV submissions so if you get there early, you may just be offered an interview.

Third tip, bring lunch!

Fourth and final tip is to not worry about it so much.

I came to the event feeling worried that my CV wouldn’t match up to that of my peers because I didn’t do an internship, I didn’t hold a high position in a society committee, I didn’t have a First class grade (I know, typical Asian to aim for only the best). I worried that I had nothing to set me apart and that companies wouldn’t notice me. At the same time, I was having a final year career crisis, where I questioned my fit for engineering, whether I could actually be an engineer. Would I be happy working as an engineer? How difficult would it be to change career paths? After all my research, I reached the same conclusion, that I still had to graduate because no matter what, I needed a degree, and I had come this far – almost 4 years! – I had to at least graduate (so no avoiding writing my dissertation and taking exams /sighs/).

As for feeling not up to par, I realised that everyone feels this way. I was shocked when my friend who had done an internship and could have graduated with a First class degree last year had they not chosen to continue on to Masters years, was just as worried as I was. A little nerve is good for the adrenaline rush but too much will impair your performance. So take it easy and just be confident that things will fall in place just as they need to.

It’s also important to remember that finding a job is as much about you finding the company that’s the right fit for you, as it is about the company finding someone who is the right fit for them. If you get rejected by a company, it’s not because you’re not good enough. You’re just not what the company is looking for, and chances are, in this case, you wouldn’t have been happy working with them anyway. See every interview as practice and a chance to get better at interviews, and be fully prepared to attend many interviews before you get the one that lands you the job.

I wish you all the best for your future 🙂

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