Over the weekend, I had the privilege to attend not just the Graduan Aspire Career & Postgraduate Fair, but the rather exclusive, newly imported Aspire 500 Conference with some of the most influential business leaders in the country.

[Held at the Prestigious KL Convention Centre]

As a prelude to the event, there was an official opening ceremony, and it would not have been complete without an introduction to the aspirations of the Graduan concept. Who better than Puan Elia Talib (Founder of Graduan) to draw us into the excitement of it all.

[Puan Elia Talib Introducing Graduan]

Puan Elia, a remarkably well-spoken woman, was downright inspiring in her drive for the success of the fair. Her passion ran through the veins of the entire weekend, making it one of unparalleled success with both the turnout, and the record number of employer-employee matches. 

The floor was then handed to YB Tuan Kamalanathan (Deputy Minister of Education II) to officially launch the event.

[YB Tuan P Kamalanathan P Panchanathan, Deputy Minister of Education II]

As Deputy Minister of Education, he was a perfect fit because of his close proximity to the challenges faced by graduates around the nation. He expressed enthusiasm for the future Graduan had as a means of getting a career foothold based on the results which have arisen out of the past five years of the fair. 

What was particularly enticing about this was the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the most revered company heads in the country, possibly even the region. 

The Aspire 500 Conference has seen great success overseas, and it has thus been brought to our shores. The panel was exceptionally well-rounded and one that inspired intrigue and motivation in the audience. 

With Ben Ibrahim playing host to the event, everything was kept on point, yet not severely so. The conference proved to be one which was light-hearted and honest, with both the panel and audience peppered with laughter throughout. 

[Left to Right: Ben Ibrahim, Lai Tak Meng, Abbas Saad, Johan Mahmood Merican, YBhg Dato' Georg Fischer, Datuk Johan Idris]

Encompassed by the likes of Lai Tak Meng (HR Director, Gamuda), Abbas Saad (Sports Presenter), Johan Merican (CEO, Talent Corporation Malaysia), Dato' Georg Fischer (CEO, Tesco) and Datuk Johan Idris (Managing Partner, KPMG), we were given quite the insight into what employers are searching for, and what stands out in a resume. 

For the record, your generic resume is simply not going to cut it if you want to be hired by the likes of these powerhouses. What you need to is display a keen understanding of where these companies stand at present, and where they are headed down the road. In short, do your research and tweak your resume to show that you have done so!

It was truly an invaluable experience, and the panel were accommodating enough to stick around after the conference to answer questions which had to be cut off due to time constraints. 

[Puan Elia Thanking the Panel]

The Career & Postgraduate Fair was something else altogether. This was my first year in attendance, and the crowd was astounding. Upwards of 37,000 individuals attended the event, and upon seeing the companies which were represented, it was hardly surprising. All the giants were in attendance, and they were accepting on the spot applications and resumes. 

It was encouraging to note that even with the hordes of people, the lovely people manning the booth were consistently upbeat and ever-willing to answer questions about job opportunities. 

There were even little goodies given out to those who left their contact details and/or interest in particular positions within a given company.

[Celcom's Booth]

There were also games and prizes to be won, which made the atmosphere very lively and truly fair-like!

[Tesco's Booth]

[Nestle's Booth]

[DRB-HICOM's Booth]

More importantly, however, was the fact that there was a genuine need and interest in hiring which runs counter to the assertion that fresh graduates are unable to get jobs. It's purely down to where you're looking and how you're presenting yourself. 

[Maybank's Booth]

[OCBC's Booth]

I enquired about positions of interest at a number of the booths and all of them were extremely helpful. Those who were unable to answer my questions directly, referred me to the hiring procedure they have in place and I was assured that the majority of them kept these resumes on file should the position already be closed.

[Prudential's Booth]

[KPMG's Booth]

[Deloitte's Booth]

[PWC's Booth]

All in all, if you are looking for a job, I can't think of a better place to have gone looking. A word of advice: Take copies of your resume with you! 

[Dell's Booth]

There was even a bit of polling ongoing, and attendees could vote for their favourite companies by placing a small sticker on a board in front of the booth.

[Voting on Preferred Employers]

The results were released yesterday, and it would appear that the Oil & Gas industry, followed by the Banking industry are in the lead.

[Results of the Survey]

Attending the Conference and the Fair were quite an experience in terms of considering the manner in which my skill set is presented, as well as the career line I am looking into. You may already be set in what you want, but looking around at all the options will frequently give you an idea, one way or another, as to what would work for you. What better way than to have your options under one roof?

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