A Malaysian who quit school at the age of 17 says making a living without an academic qualification has been hard and that her seven years of working experience only gets her a measly RM1,700 monthly salary
In an anonymous post published on the Facebook page of UTAR Confessions, the now 23-year-old woman expressed regrets of not staying in school when she was a teen, while exemplifying how time and time again she was denied a promotion or job offer simply because she lacks a college diploma certification.
Writing with full of emotion, she urges followers of the forum-like page — who are mostly students at a non-profit private university in Malaysia — to complete their courses no matter how much they despise studying.
She said for seven years, she has moved from one job to another, each time hoping it would be different. But she faces the same roadblock at each turn and that her salary has merely grown from RM900 to RM1,700 over the years.
She admitted that when she started working at 16 years old, she felt empowered because she could buy anything she wanted while her friends at school couldn't
"When I was working as a waitress at 16 years old, I felt really content. I could make money and buy the things I liked, while my peers were still studying in school - still being trapped. At that time, I thought I was pretty impressive," she related.
"But when I turned 19, still working as a waitress, while my peers had entered society after completing Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), they got jobs that had a higher salary than me."
Envious of her peers, she said she quit her job in the hope to land a higher paying job.
It was at the moment, she realised for the first time the disadvantage of not having an academic certification.
"I can't speak Bahasa Malaysia and English fluently. No one wanted to hire me except for sales jobs. At that time, I believed that as long as I worked hard, I would be fine," she said.
"After trying my luck for two weeks, I landed a job but was also quickly fired. The salary I received was only RM1,000."
Following that, she started working at a saloon after her parents advised her to pick up a skill that could generate enough money
She worked there for a year and was paid RM900 a month.
"The job had no overtime pay nor bonuses," she said.
"When I asked if they could increase my salary, they told me that I had no foundation and diploma. Hence, there was no reason to give me a pay raise. Okay, (upon learning that), I resigned."
With a heavy heart and some savings, she then took a chance to go to Singapore to look for opportunities with her friends.
"I rented a bed for two weeks. Because I didn't have a degree or a diploma, all I got was jobs at hawker stalls," she recounted.
"I was forced to return to Malaysia after I couldn't land a job because women can't carry heavy stuff (at work) and that I had to pay a higher tax rate for not having a diploma."
In her next chapter, she landed a job in an office in the customer service department
She said that she managed to get the job thanks to the connections of a friend.
"Other employees worked for eight hours, but I worked 10 hours because the company had given me an opportunity to join them and learn," she said.
She contributed her lack of academic certification to the reason behind the unfair treatment.
"Although I felt was taken advantage of at the time, at least there was a place for me to learn and that the working environment was good."
"This is also my first office job. For the first time, I thought to myself that work can be so easy. People wear beautiful clothes while sitting in the office, answering phones."
I felt that I could do this job forever, I liked the job. I really, really liked it.
However, she said all good times had to come to an end. She faced the same problem again for not having a diploma and was told to leave the company.
"The manager told me that they are a big company and that they don't employ people without a diploma. I was only able to join the company because the company happened to have a shortage of employees at that time," she recalled.
"Someone new had been hired (to replace me), I was told to go."
"After hearing that, I put up a strong front, but when I got home, I broke down and cried."
She said her time working as a hotel receptionist was her longest employment stint
"I eventually started to like working at the hotel. The manager also had confidence in me. After working for a year, I was recommended to the position of assistant manager," she related.
"I held the position for just a month and my boss demoted me after going through my resume. It was the same reason again: I don't have an education, no diploma, and no qualification."
"My manager took a scolding because of promoting me. I had also become a laughing stock at the hotel for being the shortest-serving assistant manager.
"I pretended to be strong, but I cried my heart out every night when I returned home."
"Although I feel it is unfair, the reality is cruel. I am, in fact, a person without an academic cert, while what society values is that piece of paper."
She urges netizens not to underestimate the perks that come from having a college certification.
Because, according to her, it opens up one's opportunity to career overseas, and can be used to reduce tax or get a loan, or even saves one from a lot of hard work.
"I hope this article can help deter you from walking down a difficult path. Over the years, people who graduated with SPM can make RM2,000 to RM3,000 a month, while diploma and degree holders can make around RM3,000 to RM7,000 a month," she shared.
"But I am only making RM1,700. This is the reality, this is society. This is what a piece of paper can change."
At the time of writing, the confession post has garnered over 3,000 likes and 650 shares, with hundreds of netizens leaving encouraging and helpful comments.