This week we arranged an interview section with Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw who studied Master of Advanced Civil Engineering (Water) in Monash University, Australia by the Australian Award Scholarship Program. In this article, he shared his experience of how he applies for a scholarship, and precious tips for juniors regarding winning the scholarship program.
Q: Could you please introduce briefly about yourself: your study life and what are you doing now?
A: I graduated from Myanmar Maritime University specialized in Marine Engineering in 2016. After that, I won the Australian Award Scholarship Program, and got my Master of Advanced Civil Engineering (Water) from Monash University, Australia in July 2019.
Before I went to study in Australia, I had work experience in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
After finishing my master degree, I worked for component 2 of Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management (AIRBM) project of Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) in collaboration with the World Bank. My responsibility is institutional standardizing (writing reports): capacity building for the whole survey department involving survey teams.
Currently, I am working as a researcher in the water modelling team for the FutureDAMS project.
Q: Could you please explain why you chose this Australian Award Scholarship Program?
A: During my undergraduate study years, I participated in various programmes such as Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce (AIESEC), Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). From the Ocean Generation Workshop of WLE program in Indonesia, I got to understand that engineering can be related to environmental sustainability and other perspectives such as governance, social economics etc are also worth studying. Moreover, water is a combination of both engineering and other environmental aspects. That is why I chose the Australian Award Scholar and specialized in Water Resources Engineering.
The program is very pleasing and flexible. We could even negotiate the subjects and years to change that differs we proposed earlier.
Q: How did you prepare for the scholarship and any suggestions to the others?
Firstly, you need to change your mindset. You should have willingness to study, otherwise, you can be stressed and depressed. It is better getting the work experience first and not to rush for the scholarship.
Exploring the Course advertised by the Universities
Once you know what you want to study, you must find out whether it matches the course advertised by the university. Sometimes, only the course title is not enough. You need to know in-depth what you have to learn, such as program details and modules. Moreover, you should also read the papers related to the topics in advance. This helps in filling out the application form about what you want to learn exactly.
If a scholarship program wants to connect and do research related to Myanmar, you should link your essay about what you intend to do in Myanmar after learning this course.
I wrote my essay like this mechanism.
It is important to have work experience which matches the need of the scholarship program. If you still don't have any, try to apply the relevant one right away.
The most important key is to have self-confidence without doubting whether you can learn or not.
Participating in Volunteering activities
There are many credible volunteering activities such as working in a well-known NGO or participating in some foreign activities, etc. I could describe these credible volunteering activities in my essay. Besides, I added volunteering at School for the Blind for six months because they asked for two years of work experience in the application form.
Preparation of essay
Once you have fulfilled all the above things I mentioned, I am sure you can prepare your essay perfectly.
Q: Did you join any Myanmar Related Organizations there?
A: I participated a lot in social activities such as Myanmar Thingyan and as for the significant contributions, I attended some conferences which related to advanced technology and artificial intelligence.
Q: So, could you please share what you are planning for your career life?
A: Currently, I am just planning to do water-related jobs under water resources engineering for 4 - 5 years in Myanmar. At the same time, I am expecting to work on other perspectives that can deal with Sustainable Finance. It would not be just financed, but will consider sustainability and the linkage of all the industries. In my opinion, technology is not always an answer. Even if modelling is used in solving the problems, it won't be a perfect solution. So, we need to consider a more sustainable way of thinking nowadays.
Q: Recommendations for applying scholarships programs to juniors?A: I want to suggest not to rush for a scholarship and also not to be lazy to apply for the scholarship. One more thing is not to be fussy about foreign universities or Asia universities and also not to assume by just looking at the ranking. I would like to recommend to focus on what types of research that the university would offer. Nowadays, many universities are looking forward to doing research in Myanmar, and thus, we can take advantage of this.