Beginnings…


Check out the irony, I came across this right after posting my last blog about nearing the end of beginning..

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Nearing the end of a beginning..


We all knew moving back was not going to be the easiest thing for me to get around – but I think I have come to accept it in stages, one after the other and as it is only a few weeks away now I can clearly see how this is going to pan out and I am starting to realise what makes this stage such a scary one.

There’s two fears kicking in here. First, is the fear that almost everyone at this stage has – which is to be growing up to damn fast with time just flying by. For most people: they finish university, get a job, get promoted …. And it just goes on – there’s not one day when you stop and tell yourself, so today xyz phase of your life has come to an end. For me this is not going to be the case. For me the day I sit in that plane with my single ticket, I know this journey would have come an end, I know this huge chunk and lot of achievements would have come to their completion. Which is an amazing yet a scary thought. It is amazing to know I have completed my Masters and Bachelors, that too with distinctions, which has opened to many doors for me. I have met so many amazing people, gone to so many amazing places and experienced so much. But it is scary to think that the phase of studying abroad is now coming to an end and it’s time to get a job, settle down and move on.

Second is obviously, change is never easy to accept and it kills to think what the future holds, in every phase of uncertainty.

I can only hope that what’s ahead is as amazing as what’s gone by and I need to make the most of every second while I am here. May be we should live like tourists all our lives, so we’d enjoy our lives a whole lot more, take more chances and risks, speak our hearts and love a little more.

That Sinking Feeling in Dissertation Writing


Yes, we’re all at that point of year (well, some of us), when we prepare to get our theses/ dissertations/ research papers in and not like most, I was quite excited about having to write my very OWN piece of work which will probably be the most important piece of research I have ever done but as we know, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies – not just graduation gowns and distinction certificates; its sleepless nights and thoughtless hiccups.

But as I come to the completion of my work I have started to realise that the hardest part of writing one is not finding the right topic (which too is trick because it’s difficult to find the balance between inspirational and realistic) or the right supervisor (which too is absolutely essential) or the sources. Infact it is the moment when you start to write things in your study which are completely novel and new, which noone has yet spoken of, about or for. I love writing essays – I understand how to structure them, how to make them rock solid by having genuine sources etc – And this practice makes me scared when I start to write something which is not out of any paper, journal or book, for which there could be no reference but my brain. While this feeling is exciting and the sole reason what makes writing your own research project so exciting, at the same time it brings the feeling of self-doubt and fear. Sometimes analysing my results, I think to myself ‘I hope I am not being stupid’ and well it’s a bit unsettling of a feeling.

That apart, I couldn’t be unthankful, I got a wonderful supervisor, a reasonable topic and a smooth journey – hopefully I can finish it off in time and the effort is reflected on the grades and who knows what else!

Why take a break from academics?


Almost through my Masters’ degree, it is obvious to think of my options ahead. The process is tedious, especially as I went for my Postgrad right after the completion of my Undergrad, which means I got no full time work experience, even though I made it a point to be no less of work experience when I graduate so I capitalised on every opportunity that came along. Like many others I feel I belong to the academics and research, for my interest, aptitude and the practical aspects of it. So, whenever I was spoken to about my future plans, I said academics was what I wanted to pursue, but things are changing. Now when I am asked about my future plans, even though I know that I at some point wish to do my PhD, my answer is not the academics. Now I am thinking about what I want to do to make myself ‘ready’ for that and after coming across a very interested TED talk, my curiosity and questions were answered.

 

The researcher said, in order to create, you need to stop learning. Einstein discovered the laws of physics when he was suspended from education. So, may be you need to give your mind the space to think of gaps in the knowledge or to create something worth researching. But this is only the beginning of the list, there are so many other reasons why you need to go into the real world and get some ‘real’ experience, before contributing to creation of knowledge. And by ‘real’ I do not mean internships and work experiences. Having spent years in the industry you would know that life really doesn’t work by the book, and any theory/ research is only fair if relevant and applicable. I wonder what an entirely theoretical research would do for anyone’s utility? Also, I think the brains need a break from being ‘told’ and there is a sense of purpose in just knowing that every single day you contribute to something and make things happens in the bigger horizon. And if you work for long enough, you would have all the more reasons to come back to academics (they say you miss the student life!).

Why Recruit by Referrals?


Having graduated only a year ago and graduating soon yet again (MSc.), I am surrounded by countless number of jobseekers (including myself) and I hear about the frustration of having to ‘network’. And seeing others with more valuable ‘networks’ progress faster in their careers as compared to the ones with less valuable networks. Working with a recruitment company showed me why this happens to begin with.

 

First and foremost, the truth that many people forget is that recruiters WANT to recruit and find the best person and what keeps them doing that and makes job hunting for new graduates so hard is that the skill misfits are endemic and so many people don’t effectively communicate what they have to offer. So, naturally it is a very costly matter for the organisations to find the right people by advertising, paying commissions, interviewing, carrying out assessment centres etc. Referrals on the other hand do not need to be advertised and this makes the process not only cost effective, but quick.

 

Money is not the only matter. They say.. Recruit the character and teach the skill. And everyone would agree, judging character can be very difficult through a set of questions or activities. However, when you get referrals from people you trust, you can probably trust them for their opinion about the referred individual too. By no means do I think it is the best way of recruiting, but it has started to make sense to me why it happens so much.

 

In my personal opinion the skill and talent are just as important and networking as people want to have likable people on their teams, who would not only work efficiently but also get along with them. But networking surely helps you achieve things you are capable of earlier and easier. 

Silent Side of Success


Earlier I wrote about what this success was that everyone seems to want so badly. I believe it is the journey that defines success, not the destination alone because there are milestones at the end of each day, success and failures on each one of them without any standard meaning of what it actually means to succeed. I reckon the widely accepted notion of success ∝ money doesn’t always hold either and is a very hollow idea in itself.

 

But what happens once you do started to deem yourself as someone who is ‘successful’. Many find it to be a place of complete bliss, with no worries but there is a side of it that most people fail to see and I realise this, at every milestone that I achieve for myself: graduation, going to grad-school, entering the professional world etc. I also observe this in people who I see succeed around me and the ones I idealise for that matter. This side is not as idyllic as many imagine it to be. Success doesn’t come free or easy and once you have it, you have all the more reasons to work harder, give more, know more, do more and be the person that success demands or implies you to be. This becomes even more complex when you worry about being socially compliant, especially when your version of ‘society’ is multi-dimensional. By no means do I think we shouldn’t endeavour to succeed but knowing what that means holds all the meaning.

 

When you have it all, you also have the responsibility for it. I think that’s what the logic is behind the saying: ‘life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once’ – Paulo Coehlo.

Milestone: Graduation Day


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It is unbelievable how fast the time has gone by, with days spent studying, some slacking, some laughing, some crying, some struggling, while other rejoicing. These three years have really been the best of my life so far. However, the best is yet to come- as said by my University’s Chairperson in his speech before the procession of the ceremony.

The day sure has marked itself down as an unforgettable and a very special day of my life. It not only highlighted our hard work, passion and talents but it was also a celebration and a reward for all the effort that has gone in to making us the people we are today, the effort by us, our friends and family; with whom I set farewell to the first degree of my life. It is not just this degree that the graduation day has bid a farewell to, but also the years of education that were spent towards getting a place in this degree and who made us capable enough to survive the degree.

The most magical moment of the day has to be when the names are called out and they announce… with First Class Honours – Maryam Sohail, you know at that moment that all the hard work, time and effort has been worthwhile. Until now, I had only been feeling the nostalgia for having to leave behind my university life and moving on to my Masters course, but today I felt the happiness and sense of achievement because I knew my milestones and its outcomes were being celebrated for and recognized.

Having the support and presence of my loved ones from family, friends and the family I had made at university only assured me that I had gained something more than just a degree from these three years of my life. More than the piece of paper, what mattered was the friendships we made, lessons we learnt, the knowledge we have, the memories we have shared and the days we have spent bringing ourselves closer to what we are today.

But this is only just a start. One journey ends and another begins and the destination for the first journey has been absolutely worth it. So, congratulations to the class of 2013 and hoping for future brighter and better!