Journey to the West: An episode of NTU’s not-so-mediocre career fair

Recently, one of our local unis was in the spotlight, again.

Nope, we are not talking about another sexualised orientation game or our top uni lost its title of “top uni in Asia” to some tiong uni.


This time round, it’s a “Journey to the West” at NTU – the place where you are likely to receive Maxis telco signal than Singtel, M1 or StarHub.

The long-story-short is NTU has been organising an “exclusive” career fair, called NTUtopia, for its high GPAers and scholars that made the rest of us “mediocres” sibei buay song. The Straits Times (ST) caught wind of it and decided to go for the scoop in this “premium” article. ST also buay steady one lor – made this article “premium” to rub it in our faces.

The larger buay steady part was that the Education Minister came out recently (not from some closet, hahaha) talking about removing some exams for our students to de-emphasize on grades. But then, our dear NTU here chose to focus on grades to differentiate their students further – especially for a career fair which would eventually affect the “rice bowls” of their students in the future.


In any case, I guess it’s “water under the bridge” now, since NTU said that it “regrets” holding a career fair aimed at top-performing students, and added that it would open the event to the entire graduating cohort next year – heng the ST article on NTU’s regrets is not “premium” liao.

Ok lah, we have big heart – we forgive you, NTU. But seriously no more next time, please.

But this episode is a stark reminder to any organiser of students’ career fairs, and participating employers as well, to look at broader sets of hiring criteria, like CCAs, leadership and internship experiences etc.

True what! If I’m an employer for a design company or even for the design team of a big organisation, I would look for candidates with good design portfolios and relevant internship experiences. What for I care so much about his or her GPAs – those are really secondary to me.


Even for other sectors, leadership or internship experiences would be a good proxy of the candidates’ interpersonal skills, and maybe a reflection of his or her adaptability to learn new things. I dare say that these skills are more important that your grades in our current day and age.

I’m sure many of you have encountered damn smart people (knowledge wise) in our organisations, but their interpersonal skills really suck to the core, until you sometime really buay tahan. I doubt these people would climb high and far in their careers with just being smart – need to also be street-smart in this dog-eat-dog world.


Disclaimer hor, not that we are asking all our students now to throw their textbooks out of the window and pon tang schools tomorrow. Knowledge is still important for our understanding of the things and happenings around us. But “human skills” and relevant experiences would make us more wholesome, like a wholemeal bread, to strive in our lives and careers.



Just like what Dr Janil Puthucheary advocated in his not-too-bad documentary, we need to think #regardlessofclass – whether you First Class, Second (Upper or Lower) Class or Third Class honours. Success is not determined by grades alone.