I met up with Burhan, the curator behind local Twitter account Industry of Awesome. Burhan took over the account in February this year, after previous curator Qayyum chose to focus on Englishjer, the popular account dedicated to helping Malaysian youth improve their English. The 20 year old aviation engineering student is well-spoken, composed and clearly passionate about his cause.
Industry of Awesome focuses on building a youth community with strong language and interpersonal skills. In his observations and interviews, he found that Malaysian fresh grads tend to lack certain soft skills that are absolutely necessary for the work force. 100% of HR professionals and employers that Burhan interviewed named communication as an important skill that employees are required to have. Fresh grads are often unable to answer interview questions, and it’s not for lack of trying.
The Penang-born Burhan comes from a diverse background, and is remarkably critical and determined for someone so young. He’s a wonderful example of someone who is determined to get what he wants, and is willing to work for it. He says that the major problem comes from basic things like presentations. In speaking to graduates from international and local universities, he finds that local universities don’t place emphasis on the constructive criticism element of presenting and public speaking – it’s treated as a checklist of marks that contribute to your GPA. Students aren’t given the necessary feedback to assess their spoken skills and further improve on them.
Industry of Awesome also focuses on basic things like professionalism and the importance of appearances. He has a basic checklist, which I found could work for a variety of situations.
Do you like it? It’s important that you like what you’re wearing.
Is it comfortable? Can you move around in it?
Is it clean?
Is it appropriate?
Now, in regards to the fourth point – he said this: “Employers don’t care if it’s your preference, as long as it’s contextually appropriate.” Given that Malaysia is at a point where we’re transitioning towards becoming a first world country, we’re still trying to move from our laidback behavior towards one that has professionalism integrated into our young graduates.
Work culture itself is also evolving, moving from the strict corporate hierarchy guidelines of the 80s towards one that mirrors Silicon Valley startup culture. That in itself shows that employers are starting to take a more humanistic approach to their employees, focuses on employee satisfaction and a better work-life balance. Millennials have been shown to prefer work-life integration over anything. That being said, he feels that our fresh grads need to step up to the plate and show how they stand out from the crowd.
Burhan has been giving talks over the last month or so, giving out solid advice to those looking to improve themselves – and their chances at landing their dream job. He also puts up informational threads on the IOA account, such as How To Be Less Awkward and stress management tips.