Posted in Education, Scholarship interview, Scholarships

The One That Nearly Got Away

No, whatever you’re thinking, this is not about my boyfriend. Don’t have one, not looking for one.

I was thinking about karma and stuff  – and I remembered the flurry of scholarship applications I went through. I applied for approximately ten scholarshipsand I recalled how the countless blogs about scholarship applications helped me along the way. So I’m returning the favor. Here, however, I shall only talk of the Yayasan Tenaga Nasional scholarship application process. If I do include information for the other scholarships, I’ll be sitting here till Jon Snow comes back to life.

First thing’s first – the application typically comes out right after the SPM results. Google it! Try all the variations, and when you finally arrive at the website, there’ll be a term stating that you require a certain number of A+’s to be eligible.

Rule #1 of scholarship applications: JUST APPLY. Screw the terms. You never know.

Now, concerning the interview – it’s different each year. Before me, they organized a three-day camp packed full of tests and interviews. During my year, they called the applicants to attend an interview session at the UNITEN hotel. It was only for a day, thank Zeus.

It went like this: registration was at 8 a.m. or so, then all the applicants were called to sit in a hall for a short talk introducing YTN and the scholarship terms. The group interview session began after a short tea break. We were separated into rooms based on the field we applied for. I was an applicant for civil engineering and there were five other applicants with me. During the group session we only had two interviewers. We were asked to sit at a table and answer the question sheet given to us. One of the questions was ‘What make you special?’ or something like that. I told them I was ambidextrous, does that count? I must have drank too much coffee that day… Next we applicants were further divided into two groups, three people in each. We were handed colored marker pens, a piece of mahjong paper and a question something along the lines of ‘Pollution and the Solutions’. Here’s a piece of advice: don’t be too domineering. Be a team player. Open your mind and consider all opinions. Work with your teammates, give good ideas, and lead where you can. The interviewers can see right through your act if you put one on. I was fortunate enough to have team members that I worked well with, and our presentation later on was quite a success, I must say.

After that nerve-wracking event we had a very welcome and delicious lunch, courtesy of the UNITEN hotel. And then it was time for my neurons to begin firing again.

I was interviewed by a panel of four TNB representatives for my individual interview. I can’t remember what they asked me because I was just so darn scared my hands were freezing and I had to use the toilet after the whole ordeal. I do, however, remember that they asked me if I cooked curry. I told them that yes, I did in fact cook curry. I gave them my grandmother’s recipe for chicken curry complete with all the spices needed. The interviewer in the middle, a very nice lady that I got to know later on, smiled at me from the beginning and I just zoned in on her to keep my confidence. The two other interviewers at the side just stared and stared and stared at me and shot pointed questions at me. I made one of them laugh in the end, and it was a good thing I guess.

I thought I wasn’t going to get this scholarship. I thought I was done for. I waited for the allotted three months and still no news. So I went to Form 6. But then, miracles do happen. I got the call one evening when I thought my chances of getting a scholarship was nearly zero. Yay!

I don’t think I’m qualified to give any professional advice on how to ace a scholarship interview, but there is one thing I want to point out: many scholars would advise you to be yourself during the interview. My opinion? Be the best you. If your true self (the no-holds-barred self) likes to sleep in their underwear and fangirl about fictional characters …well…maybe try to tone it down? Don’t put on a show, don’t give them jacked-up sob stories, especially if you don’t have sob stories. Most of all, don’t try to be someone you are not. They can smell it, I’m sure of it. BE THE BEST YOU. Also, it’s okay to be nervous, it’s okay to have cold hands. It doesn’t matter. What matters the most is how you present yourself: no pretentiousness, pure originality. I believe that’s what the interviewers want. Someone who’s comfortable enough in their own skin that they don’t need anything else to glam themselves up with. Oh, yes – preparation is everything. Read up on the scholarship you’re applying for and the company offering for the scholarship. During those few weeks, Google will be your best friend, your soul mate, the toilet seat to your toilet bowl. Inseparable. And THE INTERVIEWER IS NOW YOUR BEST FRIEND. Go for it. Talk, laugh, joke, whatever works.

Last of all, I want to mention that sometimes you will feel undeserving of the scholarship. You will feel inadequate and small. You’re gonna see many other applicants who’ve achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of. But it’s okay. You’re gonna have to take some time, think about it a bit, maybe if you want to coddle yourself then you can moan about it (I did that) – but sooner or later you need to move on. You cannot let that affect you. I know because I get that every single day at a college full of scholarship holders.

There’s a long journey ahead. May the Father judge you fairly and the Crone guide your way.

Peace out.



A girl. Quasi-grownup. Unaware of the full connotations of the word "adulthood".

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