What SPM Leavers Should Do Before Starting College

WARNING! The article you are about to read contains psychological nudity and blunt honesty, viewer discretion is advised.

What should YOU do after SPM? There is an endless list of possible stuff you could do to fill up your free time since college intakes usually commence in March or July. For those who’ve signed up for January programmes, all is not lost as you still could do something during your measly 1 month December break. So let’s get straight to the point as we debunk the ways you could stay once step ahead of your peers in the post-SPM rat race.

1. Volunteer With An International Organization

We’ve all heard the usual banter about volunteering being about ‘passion’ and ‘love’. To be honest, a sizeable aspect of volunteering is definitely about passion and love but we shouldn’t forget that volunteering goes a very long way in decorating your CV (curriculum vitae) or resume. How long should one volunteer? Most volunteer organizations are quite flexible with their voluntary hours. For instance, you could volunteer for a 30-hour programme, volunteer on Saturdays for 2 hours or you could simply spend your whole week volunteering on a daily basis. Just make the terms and conditions of your voluntary period are properly ironed out before you embark on your volunteering escapade. Where should you volunteer? If you are aiming to bag a scholarship, try to volunteer with a 1st tier ‘big’ internationally recognized volunteer organization such as UNHCR, Unicef, Amnesty International or even WWF (for the animal crazy hippies). The 2nd tier includes ‘moderate’ nationally recognized volunteer organisations such as National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Malaysia Aids Council and the National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia. There is absolutely nothing wrong in volunteering for lesser-known organizations, but you’ve gotta ask whether the guys looking at your resume would actually know about the organization you volunteered for, without actually having to google it up. Simply put, bigger is indeed better.

2. Get An Internship/Job With A Big Company

Personally, I would recommend an internship as it would be less stressful and more flexible compared to a regular job. Yet again, let’s picture ourselves being in the shoes of a old white male from Oxford, the man who’s viewing and evaluating your resume. If he’s given 2 identical resumes of candidates, the only difference being one candidate has an internship in OCBC Bank (a famed bank) vs another candidate who had an internship in Mustafa Ali and Sons Sdn Bhd (an unknown insurance firm in Sabah). The answer is pretty simple, the OCBC kid trounced the other candidate due to the credibility of OCBC bank as being a world-renowned bank.  Even working as salesman in Apple Malaysia is definitely gonna make some eyes roll, since Apple (a huge brand) is the world’s largest company in terms of market capitalization. Any other workplace suggestions? You could also try out the myASEAN Internship programme organized by TalentCorp Malaysia, which enables you to work for some mega companies in Malaysia. There are some stipulations though that include “You must be a final year undergraduate student”. Don’t worry, just apply for as many jobs/internships as possible as not all companies follow their own rules all the time, thus they may actually open their doors for SPM leavers.

3. Learn A Language On Duolingo

Duolingo in my humble opinion is probably the most undervalued app on the on the App Store or Google Play. It provides an extremely simple way to learn almost any language around the globe from Ukrainian to Vietnamese with its gamification platform. Just practise the language of your choice for around 5 minutes a day and you’ll sound like a native speaker in absolutely no time at all. I would personally recommend learning German due to its importance in higher education. As you might already know, tertiary education in Germany is FREE (for international students too!) and picking up some basic German on Duolingo will definitely go a long way in your quest for obtaining a German education. But of course, you would have to sit for a paid language exam called ‘TestDaF’ to meet the minimum language requirement needed to get into a German university. Check out the Goethe-Institut Malaysia for more details on the German courses provided.

4. Learn How To Play The Guitar Via Youtube

The guitar is arguably the easiest musical instrument to learn. Strumming is a very useful and simple guitar skill to pick up. Just grab any old guitar or you could simply buy the cheapest available guitar from a music store and start watching guitar tutorials on Youtube. Whether it is impressing your mates with your wicked guitar skills or serenading that special someone with some James Blunt, even having the most basic of musical skills makes you a much more sought after person and it definitely goes a long way in making your resume stand out! At the core of it, strumming the guitar requires you to recognize ‘chords‘ and once you’ve successfully mastered the basic chords (C major, D major, E minor, G major, F major, A minor, A major), you can almost play any song with relative ease! Transitioning between chords may take some time to learn, but do persevere through the hardship and reap the fruits of your labour later!

I hope these steps have helped you guys realize that there is so much that can be done during your free time while waiting for college to commence. Ultimately, it all boils down to your personal effort and whether you would want to go the extra mile to to beef up your post-SPM resume. Personally, I had wasted the first 4 months of 2016 just lazing around at home and doing absolutely nothing. At the end of April, I had a reality check and began to turn things around by signing up for an internship with Leaderonomics Malaysia for a period of 2 months. Hopefully this upward trajectory that I’m experiencing doesn’t lose steam until I begin college in mid-July. Cheers and have a splendid day ahead!

Need some unfiltered inspiration? Watch the video below on ‘passion’!

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