The Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholarship is arguably one of the most selective scholarship programmes that is available for post-SPM students in Malaysia. Founded under Tun Ismail Mohd Ali (the Second Governor of BNM), it aims to transform the Central Bank into a knowledge-based organization and serves as a perpetuating force of recruitment for the Central Bank with today’s 30% of all employees in BNM being ex-scholars.
I find the Kijang Scholarship to be one of the most complex yet simple scholarship programmes that I`ve been through in my experience applying to about 12 of them post-SPM. It only asks us about the essay, what course we intend to take (two options) and then some documents to be handed in to the Scholarship Section of BNM.
Why is it complex?
Well, the Scholarship asked us to write a 500-word essay on certain areas (personal goals, challenges etc) and to fit everything into a 500-word essay was quite a monumental task. It requires rigorous proof-reading and multiple drafts in order to fit an abundance of information into one document.
The interview is also not your typical tell-me-about-yourself interview, it consists of two sessions, a group and an individual interview. During our year, we had to do a case study on a plastic product and decide on which product was the best fit for the company. Coming from a pure-Sastera background, I had the advantage of some business tricks from taking Perniagaan in Form 5. But the challenge was trying to coordinate and discuss with people you've just met about five minutes earlier in the waiting room at Microsoft Teams.
For the individual interview, it was one of the toughest I`ve been through and at that point I`ve been through numerous other scholarship interviews like YK, Shell, JPA etc.. My assessors (from various departments of the Bank ranging from the Director of the Monetary Policy Department to the Manager of BNM’s Innovation Labs) were tough and critical of every word I said. I remembered at one point I almost lost my cool as one of the assessors were ridiculing my past internship experience but all in all, the pressure and the dissection from the interview felt super satisfying if you managed to navigate through it well.
Why is it simple?
The Kijang Scholarship has in previous years, never used any online assessments like CUBIKS or Logiks (which you will find quite often with other major scholarships like PNB, PESP and YK). So, if you’re a person who sucks at math, spatial reasoning (like me lol) or those english comprehension stuff, the Kijang Scholarship might be just the right one for you. I assume the reasoning behind this implementation was an online assessment is a bit hard to some students especially those who lack access to a stable internet connection.
Other than that, the Kijang Scholarship is super straightforward. There’s a few courses you can choose from (due to the Bank’s mandate as the Central Bank of this country) and there might be a slight chance you might get your second option. So, you don't need to worry that much about what courses you want to take as there’s only about nine of them.
Advice from a Kijang Scholar to a hopeful applicant?
Honesty is the best policy. If you’re really good at faking it till you make it then you do you, but I’ve always believed that if you’re truthful to yourself and to the assessors it`ll be worthwhile.
Be a team player. The Bank (and most other scholarship bodies) are looking for individuals that are going to take on the mantle in the next generation. They want people who can work in a collective environment, striving for a common goal. Therefore, during the interview, respect other people’s views, don't talk until they’ve finished talking, don’t drag other people down to bring yourself up, interject with respect. Essentially, practice reciprocity.
Keep an open mind and be mindful. You’ve reached this far, you`ve qualified to apply for the Kijang Scholarship, you’re going to attend the interview. Not many people have this privilege as much as you. Later on during the interview you’re going to meet the best and the brightest of this country, straight A+ kids, best students of a renowned school, just plain old brilliant people. Don’t let this demotivate you just because you come from a public school or you talk less than them. You and them are in an even-playing field, equals and there are no firsts amongst yourselves. So what I can say is just try your best and always believe that your best is good enough.
Whatever it is, do not limit yourself to only one scholarship. Evenly spread your options towards multitudes of them post-SPM. Take into account your goals in the future as scholarship bodies might sponsor you for your education but the bond that it entails can decide your life for the next 10-15 years. But in the end, there’s more to ourselves than being a “Kijang Scholar” or any other scholars as a matter of fact. A scholarship is not a be all and end all thing in your journey post-SPM. I wish you all the very best of luck. May the force be with you.