Scene 1: Mock interview candidates not so randomly selected (Head Boy, Pres KPKM, Deputy Pres BRU and top student)
Scene 2: Almost everyone tested positive for excessive eagerness for big car, big house and pretty wife in 10 years' time
Early in the year I had had the opportunity to sit down with college's counselors and went through the programs lined up throughout the year to prepare our school leavers for the ultimate test - whether all their hard work for SPM pays off in securing a scholarship.
I also had the privilege to work with MCKK's top scorers from Class of 2005 - from whatever encounters we had, it was obvious that not enough was done to prepare them for interviews and scholarship process after SPM. Most of the time (just like we were at their age), we had no clue whatsoever what we wanted to do in life, what were our strengths and weaknesses.
So after a few months' planning, finally the inaugural MCKK's Career and Scholarship Workshop was successfully carried out. In the process some of us stayed up until 6 in the morning before the workshop to prepare the handbooks and workshop materials required.
I was happy with the attention and eagerness displayed by them, especially considering the tight schedule they were subjected to (they had been spending days in the hall listening to all sorts of speeches and the launching of many initiatives filling up koleq's calendar lately). We had a few mock interviews and it was made specifically harder than the real ones - but generally some of them sailed through marvelously. One candidate went through a "role play" type of structured interview and performed much better than some uni grads whom I have come across.
So the kids are still as talented and as great as the college boys of the yesteryears. Nothing wrong with them - only the world gets more competitive and whatever was MCKK's advantage before, is no longer there.
Before we closed the workshop, we reminded them that on their shoulders rests not only their and MCKK's future, but that of our people. If some other old boys from earlier generation had been there, they must have squirmed in their seats when I told the boys - "don't you dare to wear the tie until you earn the right to wear it. Putting on the tie means wearing MCKK's identity on your forehead and unless you are sure you would make MCKK proud, don't even think of wearing it."
As usual the majority wanted to become doctors, with mechanical engineers coming close second. What saddens me a bit was that a large majority of them wanted to do accounting and economics, yet it's almost certain they will not obtain any accounting or economics scholarship because koleq does not have accounting or economics classes, nor the flexibility to allow the students to organise themselves for optional classes to broaden their career options.
We were joined by Cepe (Class of 2005), Malaysia's top student for 10A1s in SPM 2005. We were initially quite hesitant to include people from a generation that constantly reminds us of our old age - yet on the other hand unless they are trained from his age, the whole efforts cannot be sustained in the future. I was overly alarmed at the fact that Cepe at first appeared to be too quiet by our standards (well most people come across as quiet compared to us); but he learnt to adapt pretty quickly. He didn't become talkative over night, but he was a good sport and responded to our overly adult jokes (for example) with giggles, rather than contempt.
Cepe was also a good "kitty master". We operate by a "kitty system" each time we travel or organise workshops like this i.e. everyone chips in a certain amount and a "kitty master" will pay and account for all the expenses. The thing about Cepe was he was overly efficient - right when we were about to order for the second round, he was already at the counter to settle the bills. So by unintended design - we didn't spend as much.
I don't know how much the workshop influenced the kids and their world view. But from my own college days, to be told that you are capable of reaching the sky - and to be constantly pushed to reach for the sky - will eventually make you believe in your ability. Unlocking that potentials (i.e. making these talented kids aware and confident of their own talents) is the best thing that MCKK can give them, as once they can fly away - they will never look back.
To the Class of 2006, our sincere prayers and best of luck.