(Above: Meena with her financial accounting students)
By PREMA JAYABALAN
“I have always had a liking for teaching since young, probably because my mum was a kindergarten teacher. Watching her teach must have influenced me. However, I pursued accounting in university and after a career in this field, I finally got steered towards lecturing. So, I guess it was meant to be,” says Meera Eeswaran when asked about her profession.
A lecturer who teaches financial accounting at the school of accounting, finance and quantitative studies in Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), previously known as APIT, Meera exudes warmth and is a bubbly and friendly person. She was accommodating and helpful during the interview, traits which make a good lecturer.
Meera, who was born and bred in Kluang, Johor, pursued her tertiary education in Multimedia University where she obtained a degree in accounting and finance. She was employed by Ernst & Young, Malaysia for four years. During this period she obtained her Association of Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA) qualification. She later worked in another accounting firm in Singapore for two years.
“Even though I had an ACCA qualification and was in the accounting line, I did not feel satisfied. I somehow did not like what I was doing and did not feel a sense of fulfilment. One fine day, I decided, enough was enough and planned to change my career path. Since I always had a penchant for teaching, I applied for lecturing jobs and landed myself in APU. It has been about two years now and I am really enjoying it.”
If you think that a lecturer’s job is only about teaching students, then you have made a mistake. The term multi-tasking is one of the most important attributes that needs to be mastered by a lecturer. It is a profession that requires one to manage several tasks at a time and this is no easy feat.
Meera’s working day starts at 9am. Most of the time, her classes start about 10am but there are times when she has early morning classes at 8.30am. On a typical day, she is at her cubicle at 9am where she checks the online system for any consultation appointments with her students and plans her day accordingly. She attends to some paperwork that comprise preparation of examination papers, preparation of reports and marking of exam papers and assignments.
“After that, I begin my lectures at about 10am and this goes on until noon. Some of my classes are big and consist of about 80 students while others are smaller, ranging from 20 to 30 students. There are breaks in between classes and if they are fairly long, I will use this time to catch up with my colleagues for brunch.”
After lunch, classes continue for Meera. On average, she lectures and tutors 15 hours per week. Most of the time her classes go on till 5pm but there are times when she has classes at 6pm. In between classes, Meera has other things to attend to including meeting with students for consultation and supervising.
“Besides lecturing, I am also a supervisor for final year students who are doing their project papers on topics related to my field of expertise. Currently I have nine students who are reporting to me. I oversee their work and assist them with information and advice throughout the preparation and completion of their project papers. This is for about nine months or so,” explains Meera when asked on her other job scopes.
As a lecturer, Meera has students meeting her for consultation. At APU, almost all administrative matters are online. Lecturers’ time tables are posted online and this enables a student to pick a proper time to meet their lecturers. Meera’s students usually meet her if they have any questions with regards to lessons, classes or exams. Some even come to her for advice on problems they are having with their studies or assignments. Meera is always ready to extend help to her students as she believes that proper guidance produces good students.
“Usually, my classes finish at 5pm. After that, I am back at my cubicle where I mark my students’ assignments and exam papers. My job does not just stop there. I also have the task of preparing examination papers and assignment questions for all subjects that I teach. My day usually ends at 6pm but if there are any meetings or activities scheduled after that, I attend to them before heading home. Sometimes, I have discussions with other lecturers on lesson plans and activities for the students.”
Meera also manages the diploma programme in accounting. She helps in the development and maintenance of this programme which requires her to look into the modules and structure to ensure that the high standard of the programme is always maintained. Meera is also one of the lecturers in the accounting club where she assists in all their activities. She has arranged for talks for this club and even taken the students on a field trip to Bursa Malaysia to give them exposure on stock trading.
Sometimes, Meera is overwhelmed with deadlines in her profession. There are quite a number of them, especially results submission, exam papers preparation and reports. She has to keep abreast with current news and information, especially in the finance line, so she has to do a lot of reading. Being laden with lectures and consultation as well as supervision sessions can be sometimes daunting but Meera takes it in her stride.
Meera also manages the diploma programme in accounting at APU
“The most difficult task can be made easy if you put your mind to it. For me, if you manage your time well and value your job, then you will be able to tackle even the biggest obstacles. Multi-tasking is the keyword here. An accomplished and efficient lecturer is one who has mastered this skill well.”
Despite the workloads, Meera loves what she is doing as she finds it fulfilling. She gets satisfaction when she sees the knowledge she imparts being valued and appreciated by her students. It gives her immense pleasure to see them perform well and excel in their examinations. Furthermore, during graduation ceremonies, her students introduce her to their parents who thank her profusely for their child’s accomplishment and this, according to Meera, is the greatest accolade for her.
“I believe that a notable lecturer has to have the passion for teaching. You should be able to handle students well. All this can be made possible if you truly value your job and show true dedication.”
Follow Meera’s day as a lecturer by clicking on the video below: