Beginning of quarter life crisis?


Choosing between jobs and comparing the offers to my dream job, I am starting to wonder if I need to do what everyone else is doing, to be able to do what I really want to do? Choosing jobs has been relatively easier so far, as I knew they wouldn’t last once I finish grad school, but now choosing the ‘one’ has got me contemplating what I can do and what I want to do.

Ofcourse, you pick the most exciting and rewarding option, but would this bring you closer to finding that dream opportunity of a lifetime? Would it lead you into finding new things you enjoy working on? Would it completely drift you away from what was once the dream? Or do you wait until you find just what you wanted?

Even though, I ‘ve got lots of wondering and thinking to do, but the point really is to make the best of everything that comes your way, exhaust your potential completely and wonderfully in whatever way ‘possible’ and hopefully discover, meet people, learn ideas, which will show you what you stand for in five or ten years. And maybe there is a reason that people do what they do, making norms. I wouldn’t want to be complete handicapped by the norms and I have always had the freedom to think within and beyond them, but I am starting to understand why people do what they do.

So many questions to answer and mysteries to solve. Is this the beginning of my quarter life crisis?

Things money can’t buy


Life’s coming to a point where things that happen and decisions I seem so much more meaningful and closer than ever to self-actualisation. And as this happens I realise that among the things that you cannot buy, the most important one is time. There’s only so much of it you get in one lifetime, in one place, at one age, in one phase and there’s anything you can do it (what a liberating feeling that is!), and even a more liberating feeling is choosing to spend that time on immeasurable, meaningful things in life, which might only make sense to you and now.

But as long as you have done justice to every second you have spent, bringing you happiness, building you as a person, adding value to your life – you’ll never look back and wished you had done it differently.

I think the realisations and moments like these are about to increase anyway as I move home, when I would spend time doing things which I can never get back in time. Seeing my nephews grow up, being with parents, celebrating milestones with people I share history with and hopefully making some history of my own which is worth remembering. After a really long time I am feeling excited about what’s ahead, as opposed to sceptical and anxious. Need to hold on to this feeling real tight!

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. 

Beyond achievements..


It is ‘that’ time of the year, yet again. And probably the last one in a really long time, atleast until I start my PhD. Exams are not too far away but this time I have my research to work on, which makes it all the more interesting and stressful. I am although getting used to racing time every single day. Might not be my idea of the perfect life but it sure is challenging and exciting. It got a little bit more interesting when going through literature for my thesis I came across this book called the ‘Prosperity without growth: Economics for  finite planet’ and I remembered quoting this in my personal statement, when applying for this degree. At that point, I had no idea I would be writing or reading about this book again as it was only something that inspired me on personal level. Now this meant something (or I am just over-worked).

 

I say that because I was not among one of those who ALWAYS knew what they wanted to do professionally, however I have learned so much about myself and what I want to do as the time has gone by. So, knowing that something that inspires you, has actually been incorporated into the ‘bigger picture’ of your achievements and life is definitely a reassuring feeling. It lets you know that every little milestone has led to something true to your curiosities and motivations, and hopefully where you’re headed is too.

 

In my perspective being rewarded, influential and recognized for your achievements are the major factors that make your efforts worthwhile, but reassurance has started to mean more in this respect. It is good to know what you are doing has a positive influence externally and be rewarded and praised for that contribution but being reassured that it really is in line with your aspirations, concerns and desires is just beyond satisfaction. 

Perfect Preacher


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Only a few days ago, I was surprised when I spoke to my father after making a really difficult decision and he confessed to me that he had been inaccessible on purpose for the days when I needed to get his opinion, until I did finally make my decision. I was puzzled thinking why he had behaved like this, given the kind of protective background I come from where I seek approval on everything major or minor from my parents, oh well generally. And then he told me…. he wanted me to make my decision on my own, no matter how difficult the situation would have been and to take responsibility for what I had decided in favour of and he was there to only watch over what I did and direct me in the right direction ONLY if I had not done so already (which thankfully was not the case). And I realised that this wasn’t about that one decision that I was supposed to make, but an ideology of how one must learn.

Life is all about learning. We spend a good 17 years of our lives on average formally getting educated at a school, college or university; many of us even beyond that. But thinking in real terms, we really never stop learning and parenthood is the purest and most essential form of teaching, which impacts everything in life that we do.

I realised that what my father had done was not merely aimed at making me own up to that decision, infact this was an ideology of how he had taught us everything else too. This takes me back to when he taught us to swim as kids. He taught us to float and once we had learnt to do that; he threw us on the deeper end and watched us struggle and swim back up. Ofcourse, he caught us whenever we couldn’t. This did two things for us; first was to take away the fear of drowning (even though the first few times we were thrown into the deeper end, we were petrified!) and the second is that all of us siblings turned out to be great swimmers!

So, it doesn’t mean we never make mistakes or be terrified or caught up in problems; but it does mean that we learn to take ourselves out of those troubles and own our decisions and he is always there to make sure we never ‘drown’ in life. So, the best way to learn is really to try, may be fail or get scared & confused; but keep at it until you are not anymore!

Payback on University Education: Perceptions and Reality


Having come to the completion of my undergraduate studies only about a month ago, it is inevitable for me but to think in real terms how worthwhile the investment of last three years, living away and tens of grands has truly been.

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Going back a few years, I remember when I was making my decision to pick the university I was told extensively about my employability, potential for reward and recognition AFTER my degree. The study period itself was portrayed as the ‘sacrifice period’ for making the investment of all sorts. The sacrifices undoubtedly exist but my experience of the payback has been entirely different from what I was told. What I found that the degree does enable you to signal the potential for getting hired or approaching advanced education, along with preparing you for it. And you do indeed make huge investment for it but the payback doesn’t start when you capitalize on this signaling and advanced education alone, infact the payback starts way before you graduate or land your first graduate job.

This is a view point I was not told and well not many people have this perception (atleast from the background I came from). For me, payback started the day I entered university in terms of academic, professional, personal and social grooming. I was already able to access so many opportunities I couldn’t do being a non-student in HE. As for the payback in real monetary terms, that started when I landed my first internship/ job during my study period so that by the time I graduated I had already recovered a proportion of the monetary investment of the degree. Also the value of non-monetary gains during the degree is worth giving recognition to, which includes personal growth, people I met, skills I gained, experiences I had, opportunities to travel, learn and think about what motivates me, drives and exploring my true strengths. These times shape how you think and what you do. I think the only reason I write today is because of the time I had to think about my interests and strengths and how things panned out for me during this time. This obviously most Pakistani institutions/ minds lack i.e. knowing the value of student experience, skills you learn, self exploration and the culture suggests one doesn’t start working until the completion of education, limiting the payback and achieving same things in times much longer.

So, I wouldn’t be wrong to say it is not just about the degree and what follows; the education is not completely a period of sacrifice. Instead it is these three years what matters the most and success beyond this is only determined by how much you make from this time as well. There’s really more to gain from every second of these three years than just a degree. If you graduated with nothing but only a piece of paper, it really wouldn’t be worth much and it is not just what you end up with at the end of three years but how you spend them. I realize this more and more as I see my other younger cousins and friends make decisions for their futures. No time should be spent only surrendering and sacrificing. If there’s nothing you’re gaining from any time in life, I ‘d say something not right. I know it is true for sure, because I had not known this perspective had I not spent the three years the way I have and enjoyed every bit of it.

* Plus I am feeling good as during invigilating for another business school’s exams this week I could solve all questions from exam paper. Looks like I learnt something academically too. Lol!