Working abroad is no longer wishful thinking

Global Talent programme is designed to bridge the gap between youths and businesses in today’s global market

By AZALEA AZUAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MANY of us, at some point in our lives, have dreamed about landing a job overseas. Just imagine the opportunities waiting on the other side of the world and experiencing new cultures!

Unfortunately for most, this is just wishful thinking. It is not as easy as it seems to just drop everything and leave home and family.

This, however, is no longer impossible with the International Association of Students in Economics and Management (AIESEC) Malaysia’s Global Talent programme which attracts, recruits and places international talents with specific backgrounds to intern at suitable companies.

The programme is designed to bridge the gap between youths and businesses in today’s global market as AIESEC Malaysia believes that the youth (especially millennials and Gen Z) will be dominating half of the global workforce by 2020.

Gen Y, ready to replace baby boomers in the workforce, are now using social platforms to search for employers who can keep them happy and promise them a long-term working environment in the organisation

AIESEC Malaysia MD Veronica Tam Xi Yuan said the association focuses on global talents around the world, where talented Malaysians are sent out to other countries and vice versa.

It also focuses on youth leadership.

“Leadership skills are definitely important for a young Malaysian to be out there working in an entirely new environment, with new challenges, and understanding about cultures,” she said.

The internship programme duration is between six to 12 months, depending on the company’s satisfaction with the intern’s performance.

To ease the process, AIESEC handles the intern’s visa, accommodation and arrival while the hiring company is only involved in the intern selection process such as identifying the ideal candidate and providing a challenging job description.

Do not get your hopes too high, though, Tam warned. Just like any hiring process, the most difficult part is getting the company to accept you.

“The companies are getting applications from youths all over the world therefore our young talents are not only competing among themselves,” she said.

Although getting exposed to cultures of the world seems like a wonderful idea, interns need to brace themselves with the challenge of adaptation, where they risk getting culture shocks.

“The challenging part for interns working overseas is definitely adapting to the foreign work culture. Besides having to get along with their new colleagues, they have very little time to showcase their strengths and bring value to the company,” Tam said.

Although there are many advantages to working abroad, it is not a walk in the park.

Petrina Darrah, a seasoned expat who has worked in different countries including France, Colombia, the Philippines and Tanzania, has learned a lot from working abroad.

Sharing her experiences on the goabroad.com website, she said one had to be resilient in coping with various challenges like cancelled flights, going days without showering and searching for an apartment in a foreign language.

The Global Talent Programme is divided into two tiers. Tier 1 is for interns from Japan, South Korea, Europe and North America, with a background in engineering.

Tier 2 will take interns from other countries in the Asia Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

The interns for this tier are required to have backgrounds in information technology, marketing and finances.

The administration fee for the Global Talent Programme is RM900.

Tam said one of the biggest problems for the participants is that both the employers and the interns often have trouble working together.

“Youths today seek a working environment which caters to their needs. Oftentimes they are uncertain about their competency and how to progress to the next level.

“So, some of the major issues that I think the youths are facing include the lack of exposure and proper guidance. They need mentors to guide them towards their desired career path and their future, and prepare to face these challenges on their own,” she said.

In a survey conducted by Universum Malaysia in 2016, respondents from 27 universities and 105 different areas of studies were asked to rank 40 careers and workplace attributes on a scale of one to five.

What came out at the top of the list was that students idealised a friendly working environment. Secondly, they desired professional training and development programmes and thirdly they emphasised on high future earnings.

“When the top management does not have leadership skills, they are unable to guide young talents but instead they are more likely to just order the youths around.

“They are directing them with the objective of getting tasks done and completing their jobs,” said Tam.

She added that good leadership involves taking care of employees as a person as they are the most valuable assets to the company.

Millennials have a reputation of being “jobhoppers” where they rarely stay long in one place.

A survey from the Vulcan Post found that 49.02% of respondents stayed in their job for more than a year while 21.57% only stayed between five and 12 months.

Although employers tend to question their loyalty to the company, their reasons for leaving are not necessarily negative.

In fact, one of the top reasons that they leave their jobs was that there was no opportunity for career growth (47.1%).

Other popular reasons include pursuing other interests (35.3%) and having been offered better jobs (21.6%).

According to Tam, because some youths did not have enough exposure, they ended up in toxic work environments.

“When you are exposed, you will know that there are companies that value youth, and who will take care of their career development. Without exposure, you might shift three jobs but still ended up in the same kind of environment,” she said.

As AIESEC in Malaysia celebrates its 51st anniversary, Tam said hopefully with the Global Talent programme, companies and youths will be able to connect with each other.