Finally had the time to catch a breather and sit down after the whirlwind of activity that was last week.
Of late, I’ve been receiving lots and lots of questions about the CIMB ASEAN Scholarship 2018, and with the scholarship application deadline due in a few days(!) i’ve decided to pen down some of my thoughts on the scholarship, and clarifications on some questions that i’ve been receiving! (I’m also just a little bit too lazy to type my answers again hehe)
So I was awarded the scholarship in July 2017 to read Economics in UC Berkeley, in the United States of America, and here I am now, many months later – a suffering freshman in Berkeley (lol only half joking HAHA)
While I have yet to blog about the details of the scholarship, and I am not sure that I ever will, I need to put this out there – this scholarship is really one of the best scholarships out there because of many reasons.
Some of the many benefits of being a CIMB ASEAN Scholar:
- It is not only limited to Malaysians: our neighbours from Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines are all welcome to apply!
- It is a “fully funded undergraduate scholarship that offers much more than financial support.” Directly from the scholarship application page, this line encapsulates in one sentence what the scholarship programme is. There is a mentor system and a buddy system, and automatic enrolment into the TCB (The complete banker) programme upon completion of your studies.
- This scholarship covers not only tuition fees, a laptop allowance, Visa fees, vaccinations/immunisations, flight tickets (OK THIS ONE REALLY. One round trip PER YEAR!), it ALSO provides you with a subsistence allowance that is definitely more than generous, speaking from my personal experience.
- CIMB staff are all really nice, interesting, welcoming and progressive. The general vibe I get from the staff is that they get things done quickly, and efficiently, and bureaucracy seems to be kept to a bare minimum. If you’re into the corporate life, this is definitely for you.
- Various academic disciplines are accepted! Academic disciplines like Chemical and Civil Engineering, apart from those regularly associated with banking like Accounting, Economics, Finance and Law are all welcome.
D’accord, c’est moi dans cette photo.
Another (kind of cringe-worthy) photo with my fellow scholarmates taken last year in July! Omg i miss all of them ❤
Disclaimer: I do not claim that my thoughts reflect those of the scholarship selection committee, and in no way am I suggesting that you should take everything that I say seriously. Take the recommendations (if any) that I provide with lots and lots of pinches of salt. I am also not affliated with the scholarship team. I am just a really blessed girl who was lucky enough to have been awarded the scholarship last year!
Ok now let’s jump right into the Q&A.
I will try to the best of my ability to categorize them and give as much input as possible!
- I’m in my first year of University, can I apply?
- Yup! As long as you have two more years of university left.
- Can I apply if I’m studying locally? [Monash University, NTU
- Yup! Definitely.
- How long is the bond?
- It is two years for every one year of sponsored study! Very worth it actually, it’s a guarantee of a stable job right after graduation with an amazing bank (South east asian at that, and CIMB is expanding to the Philippines!!)
Online app related, essay
- What should I write in my essay?
- So this was one of the more popular questions, and my honest opinion would be: follow the instructions and your heart. The first question (field of study) should be one you’re pretty familiar with, given the UCAS Personal Statement must’ve made you contemplate it rather thoroughly. The second question though is entirely a matter of what makes you special/unique! Don’t try to tailor your essay to what you think the selection committee wants, do try to highlight your strong points and most importantly, be genuine and honest. Be prepared to be able to back up whatever you say, if something sounds too far-fetched I’m pretty sure the selection committee can see right through it.
- How many stages are there?
- I cannot say with absolute certainty how many stages, but as far as I remember, there was a phone interview (or rather a phone chat) right after the online app, and then was the online assessment/aptitude test, then after that one face to face interview, then the boot camp (!!), then another interview with a panel, then a final interview. If you consider the online application the first stage, there are seven in total.
- What is each stage like?
- Maybe a question for another day. Or you can try to contact me if you get through the first stage!!!! I will be glad to answer / maybe write another one of these blog posts if i get too many questions lol for now, the phone interview is super chill! Just be on the watch for a landline (+603? etc) number somewhere in April. If you’re in class, let your teachers know that its a Very Important Call and compose yourself. DM me for further inquiries! (Sorry gotta rush for class and have two midterms next week for now D:)
- What is a rough idea of the kind of people CIMB is lookingfor?
- I can only give my opinion on this, and I may well be wrong. From what I observed, many of those who made it to the final cut/boot camp were very outspoken, outstanding individuals with vibrant personalities and could really carry themselves well. A good command of English was common, but what seemed more evident was how each of them were well rounded individuals who were confident in themselves!
- Referee requirements?
- I think the two referees just have to know you well, and be willing to speak about you if asked. One of my referees was a teacher from high school who was rather fond of me, and another was Mr Azlan, my teacher advisor for the volunteering club I was part of in KYUEM. They don’t have to write you a letter or anything, but if they do want to, you could possibly bring it to the in-person interview if you get to that stage(? I guess). Be sure to ask for permission from your referees first, and put down a working phone number, in the case that the selection committee calls them!
- Which ECA should I list down?
- Your best, definitely. I think i gave myself a cutoff point of form 3/4, because I wanted to keep it down to my most recent and most impressive achievements, and the ones that I was the most passionate about (and hence most vested in). I’d compare it to US applications: it’s not about the breadth, its about the depth. Rather than just listing a random position I held in a club in form 2, I would much rather list a volunteering commitment that I regularly spend time on, despite the latter having no paper documents.
- Does the name of the university matter? (i.e, prestigious universities = ivy league, Oxbridge)
- Erm I’ll be honest ok I don’t know. A prestigious university offer is associated with an excellent student (in most cases), hence the likelihood of someone who got, say, a Cambridge offer getting the scholarship might seem higher? But I guess it all boils down to how impressive/well a fit the person is with CIMB, because I didn’t get into Oxbridge (I didn’t even apply) nor do I attend an Ivy, but I got the scholarship! I also know oxbridge holders who didn’t get the scholarship, but that says nothing about the selection criteria or the applicants themselves at all, I would say. So yay! Don’t worry too much about the name of your university, but rather focus on making your application stand out by being yourself 😀
- Does what course I am doing affect my chances?
- So as the website says, all courses are welcome! However I think it’s common sense that CIMB would want to sponsor someone they can hire within the bank, so the ratio of sponsored students reading non-banking related courses to banking related courses might be in favor of those who are in the financial fields? That’s not to discourage anyone from applying, I met this guy who’s reading aeronautical engineering during the boot camp (one of the final stages) so don’t be discouraged at all!! Psychology is also a rather versatile field of study tooo so just apply apply apply! The only thing that would really hurt your chances is if you give up lol and just not apply. [my advice is rly becoming rather useless i’m sorry]
- What if I haven’t gotten all my offers yet?
- Doesn’t matter! Remember to have your predicted grades ready, and by the time of the phone interview/call, you’ll likely have most of your uni offers and then you’ll be able to clear up exactly which university is your first choice etc. And during the in person interview, you’ll get to clearly state your firm universities and explain (if needed) whatever situation that you’re in!
- Do they sponsor non UK schools?
- Yup, definitely! Some of my scholar mates are in NUS, in Thailand, in Australia, Canada, and also of course, the UK! UK schools are the most common though, since many Malaysian students (and applicants in general) apply to UK Schools.
- How much allowance do you get?
- Not going to disclose the exact amount but IT IS GENEROUS. And it’s on a case by case basis, refer to next point.
- Does everyone get the same allowance?
- More or less, I think so? It depends on your cost of attendance. Say, if you’re in the states, and the cost of attending your university is about the same, then yes you get the same amount (give or take a little). US and UK allowances do differ though, but it’s not by a lot lah and I really don’t know how much my scholarmates are getting it’s abit intrusive to ask (i feel). We each submit an estimated cost of attendance before the final interview (with evidence to back the figures up, of course).
- Does the amount of allowance vary from year to year?
- I’m going to say no on this one. I signed the contract for four years, and it’s likely that the stipulated amount will stay. Unless something major happens (like RM depreciates against USD so much so that I struggle financially and have to renegotiate terms or something) it is unlikely that it will change? Oh yeah the allowance is in RM, and you get whatever amount after it is converted to the currency of the country you’re studying in.
- How do they reimburse you?
- You send them a receipt, and they’ll reimburse you! Usually takes only two weeks for the funds to appear in your account 😀
- Is this a need-based scholarship, or a merit-based one?
- Aha. A question I kept asking myself too. I wish I had found some sort of guide like this when I was applying last year hahaha. I’m going to say that it is a merit-based one, since in no stage during the application was I asked to submit any financial documents or payslips. I think so lah.
Mentor & Buddy System
- What is it??
- Okay each scholar is assigned a mentor, usually high level management in CIMB who can give you mentorship, life advice, angpau (my mentor had to layan my request for angpau next Chinese New year HAHHAHA) and generally support throughout your years with CIMB! My mentor is in the legal department, however his advice is very relevant to me because I am currently loooking into double majoring in economics and possibly data science/finance/pyschology, and he did a double degree in law and economics in the U of Melbourne. Oh, and his other mentee is in the U of Melbourne currently.
- What is it???
- Typically a younger current CIMB banker/worker in the TCB program who will be your (younger) support system to give you emotional support from a different perspective, I guess? And maybe to like your photos on Instagram. Hahahaha. My buddy has given me some advice on how to brave the cold weather lolol very important advice indeed.
I think that’s about it! Phew. Alright now off to my global poverty and inequality econ class! Hope this post helped you, and provided you with some insight regarding applying for the scholarship 😀
All the best!