How Tenacity and Strong Will Helped Me in Getting Scholarships and Job Offers

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Bivan has spent 9 years living far from home. However, his journey in achieving his dreams is not an easy one. His strong will and tenacity in overcoming all the hurdles resulted in a fruitful result. Let’s read about his journey from getting a scholarship in one of the famous universities in South Korea to landing a job in a famous company in Singapore.

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When there is a will, there will be a way”. This one proverb is the one I hold close to my heart until today. With a strong will, patience, and also determination, I was able to secure a great scholarship in Korea and also a decent job in Singapore. Here, I will tell you my story, on how tenacity and perseverance enabled me to obtain those achievements.

Greetings to all Indonesia Mengglobal readers. My name is Bivan Alzacky Harmanto, once a recipient of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) Scholarship in 2013 and now a Software Engineer in Shopee Singapore, starting from September 2019. Upon reflecting on my journey and also my struggles in getting those two achievements, I remembered that I encountered several challenges that, with the help of Allah, I was finally able to overcome and be successful in securing those accomplishments.

Getting KAIST Scholarship

The first one, getting KAIST Scholarship, started back when I was in my final year of high school, in which, just like other high schoolers in their senior year, I needed to think about the university I needed to go to after graduation. Back then, several options were available but very few of them offered full scholarships. As the youngest son among three brothers, I was determined to find a full scholarship, at least to minimize the financial burden that might surface should I go to college without a scholarship (or even only a partial scholarship might be difficult for me and my family).

So, after going through all the information regarding potential universities and the scholarships, I decided to apply to several universities in Indonesia, United States, and Singapore. Praise unto Allah, I was securing my place in ITB (Indonesia) and NTU (Singapore). However, I was disheartened by the subsequent fact that I apparently failed to secure full scholarships from both universities. It was really saddening to me since the tuition fee for both universities were almost unbearable for my family to pay.

And at that very moment, I was contacted by one of my friends about KAIST and its full scholarship. After learning about its recruitment process, I realized that the deadline for applying for its undergraduate program was still one month and I basically already had all the documents I needed to prepare (thanks to my application process to some universities in the United States). The only challenge, though, was that my TOEFL score was still not enough (they required 80/120 and I obtained 79). So, with very little time remaining, I registered for the nearest TOEFL test and studied hard for this English test.

At last, I was successful in increasing my score by 2 points (81/120), barely enough to meet their English requirements. Then I submitted all the documents needed and also personal essays that I had prepared beforehand, and continuously prayed to God for the best outcome to happen. And finally, after around 2 months of waiting, I got the announcement that I got accepted into that university with a full scholarship. 

Then, without hesitation, I accepted their scholarship offer and prepared all the documents required for my entry into Korea and, ultimately, for my study in KAIST to begin.

Several photos of KAIST Indonesia’s Gathering, back when I was studying in KAIST. Source: Personal documentation.

Fast forward to 5.5 years later, through all the pain and challenges, I was successful to graduate from their Bachelor’s program, and, subsequently, I decided to continue for the Master’s program in KAIST as well. After graduating from that Master’s program, I was contemplating what to do after graduation and I decided to pursue the Industry track, meaning to seek a job and work in the industry.

KAIST 2013 Fall International Students Batch’s Dinner Party. Source : Personal Documentation.

Getting a job in Shopee Singapore

I once secured a job in one of the startup companies in Korea, but unfortunately, due to the language barrier that I faced (I could barely speak Korean, more so for having a professional conversation in Korean), my period of working in that company did not go for long. Then, I was trying to search for several other Korean companies but unfortunately, despite me coming from one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, I was not able to pass even the screening phase due to my inability in speaking Korean fluently. It was as if all roads had been blocked and I had nowhere to go.

Again, perhaps through God’s intervention, two of my Indonesian friends in Korea (Iis and Airin) were having a quite deep conversation one time regarding my future career and they made me realize that maybe Korea was not the answer for my future career. Starting from that point, I began aggressively searching for the job position I was interested in any part of the world. That’s when I first polished my LinkedIn profile, re-edited my CV through this platform, and finally got to apply for some of the job vacancies available on this app. 

Much to my surprise, there were several companies that responded to my application, with Shopee as one of them. The recruitment process, albeit a bit long and arduous, was, fortunately, going on quite smoothly. Starting from HR Interview, simple coding questions, salary expectations, technical interviews, and finally project experience interview, I was offered a Software Engineer position at last, with a quite decent salary. Receiving the offer from them, I was quite exhilarated but also very anxious at the same time, since this meant that I needed to migrate to another country, leaving my comfort zone (which is Korea, the country I have lived in for about 6 years) behind. Despite being so, after discussing with my family and several friends that I trusted to heart, finally I decided to accept the offer and get ready to embark on yet another journey to another foreign land which is Singapore.

Some of my last trips together before leaving Korea for good. Source: Personal Documentation.

Current Life in Singapore

Arriving in Singapore, I surprisingly was able to adapt quite well and quickly into living here. Besides the language barrier that was almost non-existent anymore and also the country that is much more Muslim-friendly than the previous country I lived in, I think my experience in adapting and surviving in Korea helped me a lot in adjusting my life over here. Also, the job that I got helped me to grow my career, and also the friends and colleagues here are quite supportive towards me having a good life over here.

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude towards Allah, for, without Him, I would not be able to overcome all the challenges and have myself growing up as a person until this point. Also, my family for always being there for me and supporting me and my every decision. Then, towards all my friends in Korea (both Indonesian and non-Indonesian) for all the fun and growing-up moments that we had while I was staying in Korea. And finally, for all my friends over here, both the one I had known since long ago and also the one I just made throughout my career journey in Singapore, for being the second family for me while I was away from home and was unable to go back home due to the uprising COVID-19 pandemic.

I really enjoyed going through all those experiences, and I am looking forward to what life has to offer to me in the future. Be it another challenge or another opportunity, I am quite sure that, through God’s help, given the life experience that I have encountered and also given the life lessons that I have learned, I am able to overcome anything that comes my way. 

Together with my team colleagues in Shopee. Source : Personal Documentation.

My message to all readers is don’t be afraid to dream high and also don’t listen if anyone says you won’t be able to make it or anything like that. Through patience and firm determination, everything is possible. And once more, when there is a will, there will be away.

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Editor: Stephanie Triseptya Hunto

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