Choose your sponsor wisely, by a regret scholar

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I took my Pre-U education (A-Level) with JPA Bursary with the hope of getting the JPA scholarship for overseas undergraduate studies.

However, halfway through my A-Level, the government suddenly decided to cancel the overseas scholarship and we had to look for alternatives.

During that time, I applied for a total of 4 scholarships, all comprised of private sponsors.

The second sponsor I interviewed with got me a full scholarship in any university in Malaysia and a reasonable amount of living allowance.

However, it came with one condition: To be bonded for 5 years after graduation.

Of course, at that time, I was too naïve to do any research before signing the contract.

I simply answered the phone interview of the third potential sponsor and screwed it, all because I have decided in mind to just go for the second sponsor who already offered me a scholarship.

At first, I thought that it was actually a great thing to be bonded because I wouldn’t need to worry about job seeking and the first few years out to the society is actually a paid-while-you-learn job experience.

All of these would be valid justifications until I went to my sponsor company and interned there for half a year.

I expected to be taught and guided by seniors but in fact I was the one teaching some other team members.

The work environment was toxic.

There was little to none learning experience there.

No innovation and creativity were rewarded, people worked there just for the sake of working and got paid.

Office politic was real.

It was definitely not a conducive working environment, especially for fresh graduates who just get out of the university trying to apply their knowledge and effort on something that can make a difference of create value.

At that moment I knew that I screwed up my 5 years after graduation.

I am someone who couldn’t stand people doing stupid things and provide shitty output and look where I would end up.

All of these could be easily avoided if I did an easy lookup online that would tell me how the working environment was there, but I was too young and naïve about these things.

I rejected a scholarship and messed with another scholarship; one even came without any bond!

My advice to whoever reading this: Upon receiving scholarship offer, try to look for a few alternatives as backup.

Kuok Foundation Scholarship is the best example of scholarship without bond. I highly recommend it if you meet their criteria.

Research carefully about the working environment in the sponsor company before signing the contract.

You can easily look for employees’ reviews of the company at Glassdoor-like websites or even try to contact past scholarship holders of that company.

I interned at a second company (which provides ample of learning opportunities, let’s call it X) after my sponsor’s and the CEO of company X personally told me this:

The first five years after your graduation are the most important ones.

That is the period where you can have trial and error in your life.

After the five years in an inconducive working environment, you would have withered down.

I can’t agree more.

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