Malaysia’s youngsters take the career path less travelled

“If parents allow their children to pursue their passion, we will be able to become the best versions of ourselves”, one student said.


Blazing their own trail: More parents are encouraging their children to make their own tertiary education choices and pursue careers they are passionate about. — KK SHAM/The Star

April 19, 2023

KLANG – Gone are the days when students were pushed towards pursuing professional courses following the completion of their secondary schooling.

Melissa Lee, mother of a 19-year-old, reckons people no longer equate success with someone becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer like they did in the past.

“The world is full of opportunities and successful youngsters are those who can use these opportunities to carve a future for themselves,” said Lee, who manages her family’s Chinese tea trading business with her siblings.

Going by this, she is letting her son Shyanraj, who is pursuing a foundation in science (FIS) course at a local college, decide his own career path.

When contacted, Shyanraj said that despite doing FIS, he has no intention of pursuing a science degree at the tertiary level.

“I will probably pursue a degree in business management, as I am interested in helping my father manage his business,’’ he said.

His father, M. Narayanaviswa, who was a national hockey player in the 1990s, owns and operates two food and beverage outlets.

Shyanraj said it is crucial for parents not to push their children towards careers they are not passionate about, as that would only result in them (the children) becoming mediocre and substandard in their jobs.

“If parents allow their children to pursue their passion, we will be able to become the best versions of ourselves,” he said.

Oil and gas engineer Emmy Masyitah Abdullah said her son Elmo Ariff Boon, 15, can pursue whatever he wants at the tertiary level, as long as he is happy.

“It is not like how it was 20 or 30 years ago, when children could be shepherded into courses or professions of their parents’ choice,” she said.

Her son has been home-schooled since 2020’s movement control order and will complete the International General Certificate of Secondary Education in May, which will enable him to go to college.

However, since he will only turn 16 this September, Emmy Masyitah said Elmo will take a break for the rest of the year and attend college in 2024.

She said that there are many educational opportunities available to youth these days that the older generation does not understand.

“There are many brilliant young people worldwide who did not follow conventional career paths, who are happy and doing very well because they are pursuing their passion,’’ she added.

Elmo said he might pursue software engineering, adding that he has a deep interest in crypto currency and wants to become a crypto trader after graduation.

When asked about going into careers such as medicine, law or engineering, he said those fields are not for him.

“Conventional careers in fields like medicine, law and engineering provide you with safe jobs and a fixed income.

“But I think computer science is the most logical career path at this point in time,” he said.

Twins Nur Hazirah Abd Fataha and Nur Haziqah Abd Fataha, 18, who are waiting for their SPM results, said they are not interested in academically intense courses.

Hazirah said she aims to turn her interest in fashion into a career and emulate the nation’s successful fashion designers.

“I see that they are doing well and I’m confident that I can be as successful as them,” she added.

Haziqah said she is keen on becoming an interior designer.

“I like decorating houses and creating cosy living environments. I want to pursue it as my career,’’ she said.

Both Hazirah and Haziqah said they are searching for courses in fashion and interior design.

Their mother, Norhayati Latip, said she does not want to push her children into doing anything they have no interest in.

“It will only make them miserable, and they will not do well, which will stress me out,” said Norhayati, who is a pharmacy assistant at a public hospital.

She said she had noticed her daughters’ interest in fashion and design, and will support them in achieving their dreams.

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