Actually, choosing a career is never a straight forward process.
It makes no difference if you are a fresh SPM leaver, or a mid-twenties adult going through your first mid-life crisis, or even a 30 plus married man who just got laid off from your job due to the recession.Some people might get it right the first time, some people might only get it right after a few rounds of failure and tests, some people on the other hand might just find the easy way out and just give up.
I remember when I was in my primary school, it was compulsory for everyone to tell our teacher at least 3 different kinds of occupation we would like to be in the future, every year from standard 4 to standard 6. I too, wasn’t spared.
During Standard 4, the occupations I gave were, a computer teacher, a policeman, and a fireman. Not too long after that, during Standard 5, it was a chemist, an inventor, and a programmer.
Came Form 4 in my secondary school SMK Maxwell, my headmaster stepped into my class and ask each and every student what do we want to be in the future after our SPM.
And by that time, I wanted to be a businessman.
So as time went by, after I got my SPM results, I spotted an advertisement in The Star Newspaper, by our national carrier.The career that really caught my attention was the hiring of “Cadet Pilot”.
That was when it all really started.
Time has allowed me to grow and discover myself.
Instead of people asking me what I wanted to be before, I now know what I wanted.
And so I took the advertisement and went back home, told my parents about the career that I’m really interested in.
I was like this little kid once over again, raving to my parents on how cool it is to fly a plane, go to places that I’ve never been before, see how snow looks like during winter and etc.
But as soon as I was done talking, my dad said to me: “Son, being a pilot is not a real job. Nobody really gets paid for driving people around. I certainly didn’t ask you to pay me for driving to your tuition classes, right? Besides, it’s a risky job and you won’t have a normal family life.”
My mom sitting next to my dad also nodded.
Naturally, as a teenager, I fought and argue with them the whole night. I was arguing with them on why they can’t allow me to choose what I really wanted. And no matter what I told them, it was futile. The only reply that I got from them was “As long you’re under this roof, you will listen to what we say.”
Of course, it was an unfair fight. The feeling, it was just tearing me inside out. I was in a sober mood for a few days when my mum finally came to me and said, “Why not you try to apply for their Trainee Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, since after all, it’s still an aircraft you get to work on.”
And so I did.
I let that opportunity to slip pass in preference of my parent.
End of story.
Is that what you guys are thinking?
“This can’t be the ending!”
Well, you’re right, so read on…
You see, like I’ve mentioned to you guys earlier, choosing a career is never a straight forward process.
I went for the test, interview and what not, got the job, and of course, my parents were the proudest person in the world.
Part of me was excited that I got the job too as I’m now in the aviation industry, but part of me knew that I didn’t get what I wanted and might regret it someday.
But anything about aircraft was just cool.
The size, the power, and the fact that it can actually fly, makes me wonder in awe!
And so, I was placed into training in Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology for two years, got all the necessary basic knowledge.
And when the time came, it was 2007; I finally had to report back to Subang Airport as a full-time “Am Eh As” employee to further my training.
I had faced one of my worst nightmare.
Where unlike my senior batches, my batch wasn’t given the liberty of choice, whether to be in an electrical trait or mechanical trait.
I wanted to work in the electrical trait as that was my preference when I first joined this engineering programme..
My heart sank. I wanted to fight back with them, but soon realized that I was in no position to do so being a trainee. I had no union to fight for me.
Going home smelling like sweat and grease is a common thing.
The burning sensation from Skydrol hydraulic fluid is no longer a strange feeling.
Getting carcinogenic material like Mastinox on your skin is a no laughing matter.
6 months into the on-job-training, I knew I’ve made a mistake by joining this career.
But what I really found out was not about getting the trait I wanted, nor being labelled as a “grease monkey”, but the burning desire to be an airliner P-I-L-O-T that is growing fonder inside me! Period. I’ve never felt so sure about anything else in my life!
And this time around, I don’t want to make any mistakes again like I previously did.
And since I’m now in the aviation industry, I took the effort and time to do my research, find every opportunity to sit in the jump seat to see how real pilot flies, worked in KLIA to oversee the entire operations, learnt how to fly with Microsoft Flight Simulator, talk to real life pilots about the balance of life and work, took part in a flight simulator competition in MATTA fair and won, and also of course, finding for opportunity to join a cadetship.
I’ve even tried my luck to apply for Singapore Airlines cadet pilot programme, only to get booted out because I do not meet their requirement of having a minimum qualification of a STPM.
Again, I felt like the world is all against me.
But I was so determined to get out of this engineering programme to achieve my own dream of becoming a pilot.
Many people I knew who actually found the comfort zone in where they are now and no longer wish to fight for what they used to believe.
I on the other hand, discussed about my decision with my parents and laid out my cards to them.
I told them how I felt and what I really wanted.
Of course they weren’t pleased at first, but with much persuasive talking that I’ve developed over the years and also facts laid out on the table, they agreed to my views.
So much so that when friends or pilot-wannabes asks me how do I really know that I wanted to be a pilot, I usually give them 6 scenarios to identify yourself as a person who is on the right path to be a pilot.
1 You own a joystick and Microsoft Flight Simulator.
“Vee one, Rotate, Vee two…”
2 You own a big wallpaper of aircrafts in your bedroom.
A Boeing 747
3 You think that the best part of your Bali trip is on the plane and not the beach.
“I’m leaving, on a jet plane.”
4 You think that aircraft food is tastier than your mum’s food.
“Come come try my soup!”
5 You’ll pretend to make pilot announcement instead of singing when you are taking your shower.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We are now cruising at……….”
6 You’ll be sudden good friend to those who are working in airlines.
Eh robin, can borrow your contacts ah?
Jokes aside, when I had all my green lights and was planning for the best time to make the move, but guess what?
FUEL PRICE WENT CRAZILY HIGH AND THEN RECESSION CAME!
Many airlines went and file for bankruptcy.
Some airlines asked their staff to go on unpaid leave.
And I thought to myself that my plans have to be deferred once again.
But as when opportunity was at its bleakest, I’ve gotten my big break.
I’m a fan of Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.
I in fact, bought the domain name “www.tonyfernandes.com.my” even before he had his personal blog in hopes that I would actually get his attention and perhaps talk to me and ask me why I bought his name. (I hope I did get your attention now… Hahahahaha…)
Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was the inspiration that I got from to want to make drastic changes to my life. Even when all odds are against you.
Anyhow, my real big break came when Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes actually announced that AirAsia is not only planning to take in new cadets this year, but also put up a challenge to everyone in Malaysia to blog about why one want to be a pilot, in return for a chance to be one of the 10 to be selected to join their cadetship.
SO SERIOUSLY, WHY DO I WANNA BE A PILOT?
Ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Siew Wan Siong.
Standing in at 182cm and 22 of age.
So all the life story that I’ve mentioned above boils down to a few things.
To prove to myself and everyone on this planet that it’s never too late to admit your mistakes and change your life(Reminds me of President Obama’s campaign slogan “The Change We Need”).
To understand that it’s never too late to learn something new and be good at it.
To tell myself and everyone else that the world is listening to you even if you are just one person.
And so here I am.
I have the perseverance.
I have the guts.
And if there’s someone who doesn’t take NO for an answer, that’s me.
If there’s someone who still dares to dream despite all old, that’s me.
And if there’s someone who could make me believe that the unbelievable believable, that’s AirAsia.
P/s : Dear friends, if you have the 6 symptoms like I’ve suggested to you earlier, I suggest you to take part in this AirAsia’s “So You Wanna Be A Pilot” competition and share your dreams with us.