Stepping-out from Alma Mater

Feb 25, 2012 by     Comments Off on Stepping-out from Alma Mater    Posted under: Non-Fiction

For most of the people joining the university means their independent life has been started, and in many parts of the world it means leaving the parents’ house for good. At the time when a young person joins a professional degree course, he/she mostly does not look beyond the era when they will be stepping-out from alma mater, with a piece of paper and the world will honor them as a graduate. Admission to the four years long degree program feels like a time that will never end. The expectations meet surprises and surprises start becoming reality of life. With the passage of time, the fun factor soon diminishes with the growth in learning curve. Suddenly, the scrabble of grading alphabets stops, announcing you ‘a graduate’. But what does it mean to the individual? To start finding a job, to get a higher-degree, to change the discipline, to do similar what other batch mates are doing, to go abroad etc. This is one of the cross-roads in life where making a right decision is what matters in life later on. And somebody said it right, ‘decisions are not good or bad, their outcomes are’. One should not take more than a due time required to reach to a better decision, stick to it, but keep evaluating it all the time. So, what are the parameters that one should look to take life impacting decisions? Here is a list of priorities which could help you!

  • Know yourself: 
    This is the key of success for any formula in life. There are four kinds of people, as shown in the figure. Only the people who are well aware of their capabilities and limitations are the best ones to survive all-weather conditions. One needs to sit in a relaxing environment and figure-out which area or areas; he/she has the best capabilities. And similar for the limitations. This could involve a run-down on your attainable wishes, while keeping in view your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t talk about the things you simply don’t know, it will create a negative image of you. People get trapped, if they do not carry out this self-assessment and sometimes accept a job or a position of responsibility for which they are not capable-of. The problem is, they really never realize their potential or the limitation. So the bottom-line is, if you know both extremities of what you know and what you don’t know, you can fit yourself to a better position, and the outcome would be promising.
  • Setting Goals: Not all wishes come true!
    Once you identify your potential in a specific area, set your goals, being short-term and long-term. These goals will not only act as benchmark to review your progress, but also serve as a compass to guide you towards the direction, you want to go. The goals may be combinations of different so-called ‘success parameters’. For example, a specific salary level one might be looking after five years. In this example the goal is defined with two parameters; ‘money’ and ‘time’. Thus, one can delineate multiple non-conflicting goals.
  • Executing the plan
    Once you identify your goal, you need a plan to achieve it. You need to hit your goal right on target; a proper route to smoothly accomplish your aim. Plan should be realistic and must have catered spaces to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. In real, having a plan and executing the plan are two different things. Thus, one should be well-aware of all aspects that may disturb the plan and ultimately push you away from your goal and be prepared for any mishaps.
  • Be dynamic
    There are a number of jobs, which did not exist five years back. Certainly there are jobs, which will not exist after five years. So, your potential, your goal and your plan, all require a continuous evaluation from time to time. For example, you may probably change your interest and get experience in an area, in which you may have limited knowledge and expertise earlier.  Thus, you need to reiterate the whole exercise and be a dynamic person to update yourself according to the needs of the up-coming world. Your potential, your goal and your plan, should all be directed towards the same direction all the time in your life. This will not let you get lost somewhere on the career path.

This piece was originally written to be published in PNEC-NUST Yearbook 2011.

The Author

Dr Sohaib Zia Khan received B.Eng degree in mechanical engineering from NED University, Pakistan, in 2002, the M.Sc degree in precision engineer from The University of Manchester, UK, in 2006 and the PhD degree for work on generation of nanoparticles and continuous-wave laser ablation from The University of Manchester, UK, in 2010. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in Engineering and Sciences department at PNEC, National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST), Karachi, Pakistan.

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