PSD Scholarships for Engineering Programmes Abroad (Biasiswa JPA Untuk Lepasan SPM 2015)

JPA Scholarships for Overseas Studies (Germany, France, Japan, Korea) 2015

Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) invites eligible candidates to apply for the engineering special programme to pursue studies in Germany, France, Japan and Korea.

This scholarship is for 2015 SPM Leavers who wish to pursue their engineering studies in Germany, France, Japan and Korea.

Successful candidates will be required to attend a preparatory course in colleges set in the country before pursuing studies abroad.

Application deadline: 10 March 2016

My JPA interview was held sometime in March 2013 at the Kuching State Library, Sarawak. I signed up for an engineering degree in Germany, so the course was notified beforehand to the interviewers. The entire session lasted about 4 hours, in the following order:

  1. Group study in English and BM + presentation
  2. Group interview

If I remember correctly, 30 people were present at the event, all wearing blazers, prepped about national affairs and general knowledge. I will tell you something about this interview, though: it is not much different than a day in the active corporate world. The one rule you must remember is to look good without stabbing other members in the back; stay true to it and you should do fine.

So first, we sent up our documentations (the actual requirements will be detailed pre-interview, but for me it was my cocurricular certificates and photocopies). After that, we were assigned numbers and split into groups of 5. Me included, there were 3 girls and 2 guys in the group. Sadly, excluding the single Chinese girl, every other member was introverted and reluctant to speak up at all. Me, being the outspoken type, started the introduction and promptly got everyone to tell their names (but this wasn’t an official activity).

These kids, I tell you, were conveying the “scared” sort of body language; not the fearful sort when a bear comes up at you, but the sort that other quiet nerd back in class gives during English oral examinations: hands clasped together, avoiding eye contact and having no substance in their voices. Dear reader, you absolutely cannot allow yourself to be seen this way. It will seriously boost first impressions if you prepare yourself fundamentally to speak in public without showing any fear. Keep your fists out! Don’t avoid the stares, counter them! Everyone in your group is smart, but your goal is to proclaim your enthusiasm, so preach it, brother.

The first part of the interviews had begun; we were ushered into a meeting room with a round table, several markers and a sheet of paper hung on a prop stand. We Kuchingites have no problem with shaking hands with the opposite gender, so we were all greeting the two interviewers (both women, PhD holders) before sitting down. The rules were laid out: “This is the English presentation section of the interviews. You have 15 minutes to analyse and discuss the stimuli (topic and some pictures on an A4 paper) with your teammates. Thereafter, you take turns presenting your findings to us using the materials provided. The time starts–”

Just looking at the paper in front gave me the chills. “CHILD ABUSE” was all that was written on the front, and no requests otherwise. What would they want from us? Examples, opinions or methods to counter it? OK, so there was a picture of some eye-censored child in binds or something. I told myself, if nobody makes a single order in 5 seconds, I’m going to assume leader and run the entire show. God help us.


10 seconds. No sound. Everyone was just doing their own thing, so I open my mouth and suggested to the girl beside me quite audibly: “We should totally work together on this, otherwise our presentation will be a complete mess. Do you want to do the intro?” She says “Sure!” and I go on, “OK, then, I’ll need three more positions for the effects of child abuse on families, communities and the country, as well as methods of preventing child abuse. Who’s up?”

Ideas flow like a waterfall from all sides except one boy on the far end of the table. (Dude, you want a million-dollar scholarship; nobody’ll know you’re worth it if you stay mum like that…) In the midst of all the clutter, I notice something: the interviewers were observing our discussion and marking things on the score sheet in front of them. It dawned upon me that if this kid didn’t talk, he’d get 0 for active participation. I ‘spoonfed’ him with words to say with those rhetorical sort of questions (“Do you think increasing the jail terms would scare potential evildoers?”) and got him to respond a bit. Remember: a team is only as strong as its weakest member, so if people like that show up in your group (hopefully not), work on their people skills as well.

Oh, remember that the time allocated to you before presentation assumes you have written all the stuff you need on that sheet of paper on the wall. Do not add to it during your speech, it makes you look unprepared. You could point to it, though, and it seems other people came prepared with retractable pointers which had me feeling rather jealous.

Everyone did their part, but there was a lot of reading directly from the presentation sheet. Avoid this, and remember they don’t care about your points, they want to look at you. Be spontaneous, don’t stutter. Smile!

Done. Next, came the same session in Bahasa Melayu. This was a bit harder as there was not a line of text; all we got was a picture of the national monument (our beloved Tugu Negara). Once again, I assumed leader and everyone did nicely, except for that speech impediment. Can’t be helped, though. If you’re used to English, then you need to work on your BM speaking.

We had a break in between, and my father was all questions. It was rather funny, seeing him peek through the glass and walking by just to get a glimpse of me, but for you nervous people, make sure your parents don’t do that; it makes you forget your points you had in mind. During this time, a lot of speculations were made on what sort of questions would come out, and it had us reading up on all sorts of nonsense, like PLKN’s mission, what political parties would be doing in the next half-decade, Project Iskandar et cetera. None of those ever appeared in the questions, though.

It was then time for the group interviews. We entered a smaller room with one man and one woman in the front. We were asked to introduce ourselves, with the inclusion of one cocurricular activity. This should be no problem, assuming you don’t make a blunder of it, but don’t go on and on about how awesome you were in Photography Club. Once you bore the two in front, game over. If you’ve done anything international, this really helps.

The order of questioning was reversed and we were asked one thing we would do, one innovation back for Malaysia if we obtained a degree in whichever country we chose. I heard some far-fetched ideas: “I want to find new elements, or try to mash new elements together to see if I can find new uses for them like gunpowder”, or “I want to travel to Germany to learn how to make buildings more stable”. These were PhD holders, and I didn’t know if they caught the fact that gunpowder is a sulphur compund, or that earthquakes in Germany average 3 on the Richter scale, but I didn’t have anything good to say, either. When it was my turn, I just told them about some science study I was working on (which I brought to the international level), and they were pretty impressed. Had them hammering me about chelation, ion-exchange and a lot of Chemistry-based stuff, though, which I tried to answer as best I could.

Don’t lie to them if you don’t know what you’re talking about, OK? I learnt that the embarassing way.

The second question was what change we would like to see if we were Prime Minister for a day. Among the answers given were “Fix roads to two-layer overhead systems to reduce traffic jams”, which almost got me killed when the man asked who the Works Minister was and I had no idea! (The answer at my time was Dato’ Seri Samy Vellu, by the way.) Thankfully someone else took the questions, and the ball got rolling again. I went for removing the modular system for STPM students, as I remembered my seniors who gave my school the worst results after the recent changes in the educational system.

Somehow 40 minutes had passed through the talks and there weren’t any hiccups. The man in front talked quite an earful about his career as a telecommunications engineer, layering fibre optic wires at the bottom of the ocean, but I was just too happy it was all over. I received the offer for Germany 2 months later, and I haven’t looked back once!

In a nutshell:

  1. Make sure your cocurricular CGPA is > 8.0 and well
  2. Practice not looking scared in public
  3. Offer to lead if given the chance
  4. Don’t lie if you don’t know
  5. Smile!

Best of luck, and Godspeed on this new post-SPM chapter of your life!


JPA Scholarship Interview Experience

On a hot Thursday afternoon, I found myself sitting in an air conditioned room with 19 other students who I assumed to be Negeri Sembilan originated students. I was in the state Open University situated in Seremban town, a place where I have never visited before in my 12 years of living in Seremban. So it was to happen on the second floor of the building. My JPA scholarship interview. The one that everyone would always talk about throughout my entire secondary school life. Just so you know, it’s only engineering and the countries are limited to Japan, Korea, France and Germany. Yup, nowhere else.

Okay so here is how it started. As soon as we arrived, our documents were told be submitted and we were divided into three groups. All of us were given number tags to show the order of our name in the interviewers assessment sheet. We were all briefed as a whole about how the sessions were going to be. There were three rooms and each had a different purpose. The three groups would talk turns and rotate accordingly to complete all the sessions by the end of the day. What came next wasn’t that surprising because this was the fifth or sixth scholarship interview that I had been to until then.

My group started off in room three. Here we were given a task to carry out a group discussion and presentation on a topic in Bahasa Malaysia. The two interviewers would then assess us individually and as a group. Our topic was “pencemaran alam sekitar dan cara-cara menanganinya”. An issue that all of us would have at least seen once in our life during our essay writing days. Knowing that I wasn’t so versatile in the language, I suggested that we appoint a leader. But I guess nobody heard me since everybody started talking at the same time. It became a group discussion. After 10 minutes of mumbling to each other, we finally decided on the points and divided them equally among all the group members. You will be allowed to use the white board provided. So please make full use of it by drawing out your mind map or at least list down the points of your topic. I did the conclusion for the topic and with that, our “room 3” story was over.

The interviewers wished us good luck and we moved on to room 2. At the interviewers desk were two old people. An Indian man and a Malay woman who addressed us in English. Oh! So this one must be the English version of “room 3” I guessed. And I was right. Exactly like the task in room 3, we were given the topic on “how to develop Malaysia from every aspect possible”. I volunteered to do the summary again as I saw it as a chance to somehow represent the team as a leader. Some of the one’s who spoke less in room 3 spoke up now and some decided to be less ‘noisy’. In about 20 minutes, our presentation was complete and we were directed out of room 2 to the main office.

The next was the individual interview and we were to go in as a group of four. I choose to sit first from the right as it would probably give me the chance to speak first. (it made no difference actually). We were told to introduce ourselves and tell the interviewers about the reason why we picked this specific country. Some general knowledge questions were also thrown at us such as, “What do you know about the first Prime Minister of Malaysia?”, “Tell me about the first Malaysian to go to space” and “What do you know about (the country that you said you wanted to go to)”. Lastly, all of us received 3 minutes to about what we would do if we would do if given the chance to be the Prime Minister for a day. The interviewers then bid farewell and told us to look out for the results in about a month time. Two months later, I got the call.

1 Like

JPA is only for Engineering courses right?

@Kairi It depends on which JPA scholarships you are talking about, there are also other JPA scholarships local and abroad for other fields.