A choice between pursuing studies or working straight away

By Izzud deen Redzuan 

Khairul Akhtar, a local studies major at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) who is graduating next year, is facing a tough decision. As his college years is about to come to an end, Khairul must decide: should he continue with his education and pursue a master’s degree, or should he secure a job and join the workforce?

Like many other students, he is uncertain.

“There’s a time, I am convinced that I need to pursue a master’s degree right away after learning that the cost of living in Malaysia has gradually risen, then there’s the low rate of graduates’ employability as well as there’s a number of fresh graduates who are competing to get a place in the workforce.”

“But at one time, I want to build a career and gain experiences as much as I could, then have my own income and support my parents,” he added.

Unlike Wan Khadir who graduated from IIUM last year the decision comes easily.

Khadir decided to venture into workforce after weighing his capability, limitations and intention. He has been working with the private sector for a year with a monthly salary of RM 3,800 after being rejected three times by employers.

“Although a master’s degree is a must for our generation, money also matters if you can invest that much in doing your postgraduate. It’s not a cheap journey and that is my limitation.”

“My advice is that students need to know their strength. If books and examinations are not for you, drop the intention to further your studies. Second, learn soft and language skills as much as you can because this is very useful in the future. Mastering English language is an advantage, both writing and speaking,” Khadir emphasised.

Pros and Cons

Undeniably, both have its own pros and cons. Further studies will give students added advantage in terms of extra knowledge in the field. The added qualification would give a chance to advance their career path.

Master and PhD holders would naturally expect a higher salary and a better position upon completion of their course. But here comes the problem, not all companies are willing to offer them a position and higher salary in this current economic downturn.

Alternatively, if students opt for PhD studies, they can probably think of an academic or research position at development organisations such as UNESCO and research universities.

Today, education is a growing business in every part of the world since every country looks forward to produce more intellectual citizens. There are several private institutions offering a good number of ever-growing primary, secondary and degree programmes. such as IIUM Holdings running International Islamic College (IIC), and Setiabudi School and International Islamic School Malaysia.

Meanwhile, work force will introduce students to a new world which is the reality of life but it is not easy as they think. Students may face obstacles and tough practical experience especially for fresh graduates with exposure to new environment and application of the theoretical parts.

The only visible problem is that many companies are looking for employees who have had three to five years of working experience in the related field. This creates another big-wall barrier and increase competition among fresh graduates in their application for jobs.

In fact, in Malaysia, more than 200,000 students graduate from higher learning institutions every year. Shockingly, one in four graduates remain unemployed six months after graduating. The struggle is real.

Instead, have you ever considered to run a business? Online business is growing and it can reach a wide range of customers. There is no budget for physical store and promotion needs to be catchy to attract customers.

Nevertheless, fresh graduates should participate in the government initiatives to reduce employability, which is Skim Latihan 1 Malaysia (SL1M). Part of corporate social responsibility programme under the Economic Planning Unit, it aims at helping graduates to enter job markets.

How does it work? Fresh graduates will undergo an attachment programme between eight to 12 months with a selected company as well as receiving an allowance of at least RM1,000. The company will provide the training scheme. As of 2014, 42,000 have graduated from SL1M.

After all, students need to be more competitive and aggressive in pursuing both paths. Always have a back-up plan and look forward for a company that is willing to give a full scholarship in the future for those who are opting for working experience.

It is a risk to take and many have succeeded.

Current trend

In case, one is not attracted to any of the options above, current trend shows that many fresh graduates choose to work along with postgraduates. Nowadays, many universities have structured their postgraduate courses in such a way that it is feasible for working students.

This enables many students to simultaneously work and study without wasting their time. Either you can do part time or take distance learning from the university branches.

So, what should you do? Take a moment to consider all options and most importantly, remember to consult your parents and lecturers for their opinions. They should know you well enough.***

Photo of OCDE

Izzud deen Redzuan

Former Managing Editor of IIUMToday 2014 - 2016, Best Undergraduate Researcher 2015 & Hamka Award 'Best Communication' Student for 33rd Convocation 2017.

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