I actually attended the selection programme last Wednesday but here I am writing my experience after a week later 👀
I was surprised to get an SMS and an email notification from YTM as I was not expecting to hear from YTM after the application closed some two months back. I didn't think I would pass the application stage as I had not had much luck with YTM application the year before and almost any scholarship applications for that matter 😂 . Four days before the selection programme was held, I received a notification stating that I had been shortlisted for the YTM Talent-A scholarship selection programme. The programme was held at TM convention center @ Pantai Bharu.
Unlike the scholarship experiences that I have read up online which stated that there was first an online IQ test conducted followed by an EQ camp for shortlisted candidates, this year's program tentative was a little different - all stages was wrapped up into a single day; stage 1 was an IQ test followed by stage 2 in which further shortlisted candidates are to sit for a digital assesment, then came stage 3 which had the remaining candidates grouped into smaller groups and given a case study to discuss. The last stage was probably the most long-awaited albeit dreaded stage- a one-to-one interview with a panel of two.
The programme was due to start at 7.30 am. Yes, 7.30 am. I figured I would hop in a uber at 6.00 am to the nearest KTM and get down at KL Sentral and then board an LRT to Kerinchi and walk up to the building. But a very, very, very good unimate of mine suggested otherwise; He would drive me all the way to the venue. How thoughtful of him. I was spared the concern of reaching the place on time.
I arrived at TM convention center an hour early. I waited at the lounge with another candidate who had arrived earlier. Not long after that, candidates arrived one after another, filling up the lounge area. At sharp 8.00 am the programme commenced with registration. We were divided into two big groups. Soon after the registration, us, candidates from group 1 were asked to proceed to level 3 to sit for an IQ test. The very first stage happened to be our biggest fear. Pass this stage and you get to proceed to the next stage, don't pass this stage and you have to pack your bags back. The IQ test comprised of three assessments, namely verbal, arithmetic and abstract reasoning. I would rate the test somewhere along the range of intermediate. I did think I performed a little poorly at the arithmetic part. So many questions to be completed within a short period of time! For that reason, I warranted myself to think I would never pass the test. I was plagued with the burden of anxiety and uncertainty.
Fast forward after some briefing and touring around the TM building, the results for the IQ test was announced. Not the test marks itself but the name of the candidates whose test scores were above average. One after another got up to their names being called and proceeded to the escalator. I waited anxiously for my name to be called. I will never forget that wait to be one of the most agonizing wait I've ever had 😂. After what seemed like an eternity, my name was called. I too joined the rest outside and followed the facilitator to level 3 once again to sit for yet another assessment - the Digital Assessment. Relief seemed to have filled the whole atmosphere. Yes, good that I have passed the IQ test, now what's a digital assessment all about? Everyone seemed to be clueless about what the test was about. I tried googling to know what a digital assessment is while I had some free time to spare but to no avail. I decided I would try my chances with the test.
Well the test turned out to be a series of multiple choice questions, about 24 in all. The questions at a glance seemed to be about current innovations and development of technology in the IT world. I thought I had quite an advantage there as I had a background of pre-u studies in computer science. I was wrong. The questions were hard, to say the least. It centered around outrages questions like "Which hybrid car was the first in the world to be mass-produced for commercial purposes?"and "What is LTE?", among few others. I don't know for sure if this stage was actually a screening stage as I think every candidate who pulled through the IQ test was automatically enlisted to undergo all the subsequent stages.
Next came the long-awaited lunch break. The Muslims proceeded to the surau to perform their zohor prayers. A facilitator had come up to each one of us non-Muslims to ask for our choice of meal in menu - a Secret Recipe menu 💕. I had picked Fish and Chips.We then followed the same faci to the Secret Recipe restaurant at a TM building right across the one we were previously in. The whole time I was just marveling at the niceness of the Malay-majority staffs who had sponsored us non-Muslims some really good food. One of the faci who was there to chaperone us even joined us at our table while we were eating. She was a Muslim who was fasting that day for the month of Ramadan.
After lunch and prayers, we were once again gathered at the lounge. After everyone was gathered, we were called individually and placed in smaller groups. Each group was then assisted by a designated faci to their respective rooms where we discussed a case study based on a topic given. My group was given the case "Sharing is Caring?" along with a paragraph about contemporary controversies under the name of "sharing". We were given 10 minutes to jot down our points and another 30 minutes to discuss. I initiated the discussion and I was shaky a little at first as I had inadvertently called for attention out of a sudden 😂. I thought to myself that I was going to talk as much as I can during the discussion but at the same time respect the other members' opinions and give room for everyone else to talk too. The discussion went well, apart from a few diversions in between, we got back to the root of the topic with a wrap that I made just in time before time was up. The panel then instructed us to wait outside.
After that, we waited at a common area in the same floor. I was really tired at this point. It was 3.30 pm and I was feeling like a zombie already. Cliched but you get the point. I was half asleep when my name was called after waiting for about an hour. I was hoping so earnestly that I will not mess up the last stage. I tried hard to resist succumbing to sleepiness and tiredness. I faked a confident stride and entered the interview room and greeted the same panel who had assessed my group earlier. The panel first introduced themselves. That's when I realized that they were holding some really high pose in TM. The male interviewer (I've forgotten the panel's names) was a manager or so at Menara KL and the female interviewer was head of the IT department in TM. Then came my turn to introduce myself. They told me to tell them about myself and my past achievements, personal achievements and just about anything that I'm proud of. I panicked. They wanted me to keep talking and they'll just listen. gulp. "My name is Evangelista...you can call me Grace...studied...". I went about my achievements, which were admittedly no where near great. It was just some mediocre-level achievements back in school and in uni. Tons of err and umss in between. I was trying too hard😂😂. The interviewers were mostly deadpan and didn't say much. They asked me then where do I see myself in 5 years to which I replied something along the lines of becoming an established programmer. Unrealistic but okay, best shot I could give at that time😂. They then threw me a last question which was the only question I felt proud about my answer. The question was "How would you like to contribute to society with the course that you're pursuing?". Hard question. Had I not prepared and rehearsed my response with this kind of question earlier, I don't think I would have been able to maintain a straight face. The panel seemed pleased with my response(after being deadpan for so long they finally displayed some facial expression, smh).
"That's all from us, you have anything to ask us?"
whaaattt?? that's all? I gave them a baffled look.
The interview only lasted for a brief 20 minutes.
I asked them a few questions about the scholarship before exchanging pleasantries once again and wishing each other well. I took an LRT and then a train back to UNITEN. I reached back at hostel by dusk.
The selection programme went by well. This was my first time attending a full scholarship selection programme (previously only interviews and/or IQ tests) and successfully making it to the final stage. I was not particularly satisfied about how I presented myself during the interview. I could have said this..could have said that instead..So many thoughts raced across my mind whilst commuting back to hostel. I doubted that I would ever get the scholarship. "It's probably gonna end up like the rest", I thought. This was my umpteenth time applying for a scholarship and probably the 7th time attending a scholarship interview, if my count is right. I convinced myself then that even if it does end up like the rest, I am sure as hell had some improvements and some lessons and experience to take back for next time.
A few days passed by and I opened my email only to receive an unforeseen joy. I have been chosen to be awarded the scholarship!
I shrieked in joy. It was too much happiness to contain. I jumped around like crazy and hugged my roomie, Dashy. All this at 1 in the morning 😂.
Sorry that this post ended up being too long. But thanks for reading this far :)
I'll rant more about the scholarship on an upcoming post - YTM Scholarship award.
Until then, bye for now and be sure to check back soon ;)