Making life-changing decisions for a big career transition

By Dania Aziz

Each person has their own idea on how they should embark on their career. Expanding her horizons beyond the academic background has enabled Nur Tessa Kisham, a member of the Great Eastern Malaysia Management Associate alumni, to realise her full potential.

Tessa Kisham first started as a pre-Medicine student but a newfound interest led her into pursuing a degree in Psychology. Upon graduation, she was expected to complete her internship programme, either at Psychology centers or in a Psych department within the Clinical sector. Instead, Tessa decided to follow her gut and applied for internship placements in Corporate firms so that she could experience working in a corporate field, which eventually marked the beginning of her career journey with Great Eastern Malaysia.

Throughout the 3-month internship programme with Great Eastern Malaysia Human Capital’s Talent Acquisition team, she was exclusively tasked to define how psychological theories and teachings are applicable in the Talent Acquisition’s day-to-day tasks. “Despite working for a company in the Corporate Insurance field, which is quite foreign from the Psychology field, the skills and values you learn in Psychology are actually put to use during hiring, interviewing, documenting, and assessing candidates,” Tessa shared.

In the beginning, she found it challenging to adjust herself to the corporate working environment, the company’s policies and procedure, and work-task integration as compared to the clinical-based environment of her studies. Nonetheless, Tessa was able to persevere, thanks to the fantastic support she received from her colleagues, and she gradually appreciated the relatively steep learning experiences she had throughout her internship.

Nothing to lose

Upon completing the internship programme, Tessa was offered the opportunity to be interviewed for Great Eastern Malaysia’s Management Associate programme. Despite having her heart set on pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, her newfound interest in the Corporate Business field led her to take up the challenge. “The interview process involved an assignment that deviated from my degree’s scope. Thankfully, I had received insights on who Management Associates are from the Learning & Development team (L&D) so I was able to better prepare myself for both the interview session as well as the assigned research work,” the Management Associate alumna elaborated.

Given that Tessa had 3-months of working experience with Great Eastern Malaysia, she started the Management Associate (MA) role with a clear idea on what the programme would bring and what is expected of her. During her time as an MA, she dabbled into multiple department rotations that required different skillsets. This two-year programme, specifically structured for fresh graduates, offers multiple job rotations between various departments enable MAs to discover their interests and competencies. “Personally, the departmental rotations were the best part of the programme as nothing can beat being exposed to the ‘privilege information and work experience’ one gets from the departmental rotations,” Tessa claimed.

Tessa opined that managing expectations and over-promising outcomes are some of the early challenges at work. She managed to overcome these by learning to foster open communications with her team members and supervisors so they can understand the roadblocks she might be facing during rotations and better navigate on how best to help each other out to reach the desired outcomes. “Other than that, it is important to keep in mind on being accountable and responsible over your work assignments as it will help you in both, your personal and professional character building,” added Tessa.

Moving past limitations

According to Tessa, the work assignments during the job rotations equipped her to better understand the culture of every department. Not only that, because she was rotating in a department as a Management Associate, she was expected to take on substantial work assignments or department project initiatives. As a result, she was trained on how to productively utilise her current skills and knowledge to further develop herself as she progressed through the programme. The diversity of Great Eastern company as a whole, the essence of the programme, and the learning opportunities offered are also some of the many attractions that motivated Tessa to embark on it.

How can one maximize the opportunities as a Management Associate? If you are still exploring and unsure of the role to pursue as your career, try not to limit yourself to feel less pressured. “Work is supposed to teach you how to progress in life and provide the technical skill sets on top of the soft and academic skills you already actually have! It has taught me that being a perfectionist is not what is expected of a person at work. Making mistakes will help us learn real skills and increase the depths of our knowledge because you can’t “Live and Learn” without making mistakes as you go,” Tessa shared.

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