"Monash has a wonderful environment to grow and develop, which makes it the perfect bridge moving from the protected high school environment to the working world"
Name: Farlina Md Said
Bachelor of Arts (2010), Monash University
Tell us briefly about your work or role in your current organisation?
I currently hold the position of an analyst in the Foreign Policy and Security Studies Programme at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, a think tank that produces research and engages in Track Two diplomacy – we explore issues vital to Malaysia’s strategic interests. As a cog in Malaysia’s multi-lateral policy-making apparatus, we are also tasked with organising meetings and visits with diplomatic figures, academics and other influential thinkers, thus earning the Track Two badge of representation in Malaysia.
How has your education in Monash Malaysia helped to prepare you for the working world?
Monash University nurtured a curious mind in an open learning environment that consists of warm staff members, open academic staff, well-constructed school syllabus and also welcoming peers. There are various hands-on activities that impart skills and knowledge, such as learning video editing or how to man a camera in COSTA or trying my hand at writing experiments in the classroom. The education in the School of Arts and Social Sciences is flexible that it equips the individual with tools to use which empowers individuals to pick and choose their tools of the trade to navigate the working world.
While at Monash what type of opportunities did you participate in?
I had the opportunity to be a part of the Student Council as an Arts Representative and had also taken part in COSTA activities. The position groomed leadership skills and encouraged responsibility while thinking of a collective population. It was an interesting point of view.
When you were choosing a course and a university did you have a clear picture of your future? How did that change (or reconfirmed) during your experience at Monash?
I had altered my course from IT to Arts with the intention of pursuing writing. Though the working world seemed remote then, learning the craft of a writer was where I hoped the future laid.The ambition did not change during my time in Monash. As a matter of fact, Monash had encouraged students to be proactive, and it was while enrolled as a student, I had the opportunity to contribute and participate in NGO activities, mostly in a women’s rights group, as a writer.
If you didn’t have a clear picture of your future, was there a moment at Monash that made you change the direction you would like to take in life?
It would be funny to say but if I didn’t have a clear picture of my future, I would probably still be in IT. Jokes aside, the people at Monash University encouraged students to assert their presence and try various things that without their encouragement and words of wisdom, much of my progress would have been hampered. The people in Monash have a way of making one feel that the world is their oyster and if you work hard enough, you might just get to conquer it. From my education to professional life, I had shifted from a general position in an NGO to being a copywriter in a newspaper to an analyst in foreign policy and security with the foundation laid by the education in Monash.
Whilst at Monash, did you have any industry exposure/placements? How has it made a difference to your own life or the life of others around you?
I did not pursue any placements while in Monash though the opportunity was present. I had, however, participated in several NGO activities which broadened my understanding of Malaysia. Being in contact with society had ignited the interest to write with a specific purpose, regardless of what that intention might be. It was that path unfurling from my graduation in Monash to my first position in an NGO that nudged my trajectory into the Track II arena today. Much of what I learned in Monash I utilise in my analytical framework, from the lessons on discourse to communication theory classes. Especially in radicalisation pathways, power structures to spread messages and the understanding of society are at the core of successful counter-narrative dissemination.
What was it about Monash that made you select this university in the first place?
I gravitated to Monash’s Bachelor of Arts course for the communication and cultural studies components in addition to the writing courses. I’ve always wanted to understand society and the education promised opportunities to widen perspectives.
What do you love most about your student life at Monash?
I treasure the like-minded individuals and the open environment – an environment where individuals can agree to disagree, thus paving the way for discussions and learning to occur. Monash has a wonderful environment to grow and develop, which makes it the perfect bridge moving from the protected high school environment to the working world.