January 22, 2020, by Noor Syuhada

The Road Less Taken: Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

By, Nora Ramli (BA (Hons) English Language and Literature). 

I flirted with the idea of pursuing English Literature all throughout high school, but ended up studying in Ireland as a medical scholar. My background was Pure Science, and I had a knack for Biology; my mother naturally dubbed me ‘the first doctor’ in the family, which was unfortunate for her because I took the road less preferred and switched to English Literature in University of Nottingham Malaysia eventually. It was the best decision I’d made for myself.

I am currently a Graduate Recruitment and Employer Branding Specialist at Great Eastern Life Assurance. In my current role, I strategise, design, and implement recruitment marketing and employer branding strategies to make my employer shine bright like a diamond. I found this opportunity via LinkedIn! Sometimes, to get a job, you just need to be at the right place, at the right time.

Application at the Great Eastern

I had a pleasant application experience when I applied for the role I’m currently in. I attended the first interview on a Monday, and I remember receiving glad tidings from the hiring manager that same evening for me to attend the second interview, this time with the Chief HR Officer. In the meantime, I took a few online tests, and once I’d completed the second interview, I had a third round of special interview with my Singaporean counterparts. By Friday, I was offered the job.

The beauty of an English degree

To put it bluntly, my major isn’t related to my current work.

Most people think of Shakespeare when I tell them I study English Literature, and it wasn’t a glamorous degree where I’d come from. Nobody knew Bronte or Woolf, and it’s certainly not something I could brag about. But what I loved about it was how it opened the doors to other fields of study, like Philosophy, Theology and Gender Studies, which I still find interest to this day. It broadens your perspective on things, and I think the upside to it is that it gave me the freedom to choose any industry I wanted; I didn’t have the mental barrier most graduates had when looking for a job.

I acquired a certain skillset during my English major – how to scrutinise a piece of writing and decide what works and what doesn’t, and how to influence the way people think through choice of words. In the working world, how you communicate with colleagues plays a crucial role if you want to get things done effectively. In person, you will probably find me very meticulous with how I speak or write because the reality is, how you convey your message will, in turn, shape people’s perception of you. Employers call this soft skills and personal branding, and it’s something I recommend graduates to work on.

Job hunting experience

Shortly after I graduated, I did some research on what roles would be suitable for me and thought copywriting was the best fit, so I spammed every employer I could until I received an invitation to interview. At one point, I had three interviews in one day! But about a month after, I got my first job offer from Leo Burnett, and the rest is history. 

I started as a social media specialist cum content creator, mainly involved in social media marketing before transitioning to corporate Malaysia. I worked with a variety of brands and clients on the front end, leading a team of creatives in pitches and campaigns but after a few years, I decided advertising wasn’t the right fit for me. After that, I decided to embark on the corporate route, and I never looked back.

Believe in yourself!

Don’t compare yourself to somebody else. In this digital era, it’s very easy to feel down and demotivated when you see others flaunt their lives online like they have it all figured out, but remember, not everything you see is real. Take the leap, do your best, and measure yourself by your own ruler because everybody has their own timeline. Life isn’t a race so don’t worry, you are doing just fine.

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