Applying for Perdana Fellows Programme was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in life. Where or when would you ever get an opportunity to work for the Cabinet Ministers when you’re studying or right after you graduate? Perdana Fellows Programme is that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When I was successfully selected to be a Fellow, I did not get the Minister of my preference. For my policy essay, I had passionately written about fighting corruption but was selected under the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Dato’ Amar Douglas Uggah Embas. I didn’t even know that Ministry existed—betcha you didn’t know, too. But I had an open mind—you’ll need to have an open mind if you want to be a Fellow.
My Minister, Dato’ Amar Douglas—an experienced Iban leader from Sarawak took me with open arms. For the first few week initial weeks, fellow colleague and I shadowed the Minister by following him everywhere he went—meetings, officiating ceremonies, dinners, visiting agencies. During these times, you’ll get first-hand experience a day in a life of a Minister. It’s not easy to be a Minister: grueling daily schedule, pressure to perform, balancing between work and family and at times, needing to deal with unfair criticism. Being a Minister is a thankless job; nobody commends you for a job well done but rest assured, if you make a minor mistake, you’ll face an onslaught.
Once we were comfortable with the Minister and his office, we were given assignments ranging from handling corporate communication and assisting the ministry officials to organising motivational events for students. It’s never a dull day as a Perdana Fellow. If you don’t have any work to do, it’s up to you to make best of that time. As a Fellow, you’ll need to be able to add value to your Minister, Ministry and government. I was proud to do my small part, for example: assisting my ministry in growing my Ministry’s Facebook page from 299 likes to 5,800 likes; reviewing the National Commodities Policy; and co-organising the biggest Sarawakian event in Peninsular Malaysia. My Minister was very supportive of me and gave me room to freely contribute to him and his ministry.
Perdana Fellows Programme accelerated my personal and professional development. It put me in a place where I had to grow or suffer. As it was the first time programme was organised—I won’t lie—there were some issues affecting the Fellows generally (e.g. administrative, fitting in). We saw opportunity in these problems. We took our own initiative to address these issues by hold meetings among ourselves. Before the undergrad Fellows left, we independently formed the Perdana Fellows Alumni Association. Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin has been hands-on in assisting the Fellows—he really does take care of the Fellows. The Alumni is truly the second family for the Fellows as we go through similar experience. I’ve had the honour of serving as the president of Alumni—it’s not easy to manage a group of leaders of very diverse backgrounds! Even after the programme has ended some 4 months ago, we Fellows are still a tight bunch and we’re excited to welcome the 2nd batch to join our family.
So, what are you waiting for? Join the Perdana Fellows Programme at www.feloperdana.gov.my.