More Interesting Lessons – the Genie way

Now for some good news, I am moving to London in a few days would you believe? That has been my ambition since I landed on this rock, which by the way was exactly an year ago from today. I was a little perturbed last year while moving to Hatfield and you would know what I mean if you party in arguably the world’s greatest city for a few days only to get relocated to its obscure outskirts. Heck I am talking about a transition from the pristine London Underground to cows and green pastures. But as it turns out Hatfield and its adjoining areas aren’t that bad and the general camaraderie sort of rubs on to you when you spend enough time. Needless to say I had an incredible time here many incidents I have talked about already and some that will probably stay confined in my wacky mind.

So in an odd twist of events I find myself relocating by default and by the grace of whoever’s up there even found a place near Central London. These days I am spending quality time visiting various spots around Hertfordshire which hold a certain memory and its all a very nostalgic even melancholic experience. Each memory reminds me of the people I studied, worked, partied, fought and made bonds with, around hundred different nationalities which gave UK its unique character.  But not much time left on the visa and I am under pressure again to make the most of it. This time around I am not afraid. In fact I am almost apathetic to my career but in a good way. Let me explain:

Wonderful! Magnificent! Glorious!… Punctual! Punctual?!

Keeping Your Edge:

I think we as human beings are genetically wired to be impatient. Always shooting for the candy without waiting for the right time and being an urban dweller this wiring is especially poignant. Having spent most of my life so far in two of the biggest most cosmopolitan locations on this planet; Karachi and London this wiring is a particular mess in my chromosomes. However, spending time on my own and working on my dissertation has taught me the virtues of being patient and self-reflective. Number one lesson, nobody knows what they are going to do in the next five years or how they will reach their goals. I really don’t understand why they even teach this concept in business school it’s such a load of hogwash. Reality is you just give in your best shot and hope for the best. Its called keeping your edge or your cool if you are a millennial.

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS! Itty-bitty living space!

Staying Positive and Healthy:

Let me tell you something and this is coming from a guy with an average build and up until a few years ago, a seriously numb outlook on life, exercise, exercise and exercise. I first started working out at the insistence of my then girlfriend and naturally the motivation was to impress her, look more attractive, increase pheromones all that bullshit. As was expected I dropped out within a few months because the motivation was not pure and therefore not strong. The second time I started was because I genuinely felt the need to improve my outlook on life and it worked like a charm. I found some fascinating changes in my life, proper sleeping cycles, bathroom routines, drastic cutting down of nicotine, caffeine and other intoxicants of all shapes and forms. I found myself getting less tired and simply happy. Good things started happening like increased productivity, increased social life etc. This may sound like a big cliche I’m probably only the billionth person on Earth talking about exercise but let me conclude the argument by saying that I always returned to my pessimistic comfort zone everytime I dropped works outs.  Also I had some very interesting and risque times in Hatfield during the months I was working out 😉

If in doubt – Just don’t do it:

At the risk of sounding cocky I want to say that I am smart if only because I think too much. Over thinking has been one of my greatest weaknesses and you know this is the first time ever I am boldly admitting it. Phew a big load of my chest. This problem had been a characteristic of my personality until this year; living alone puts annoying decisions in front of you every day and all you can do is weigh  in the obvious pros and cons. Well I have devised a system where if a decision has to be made I reflect whether I have ‘that lingering doubt’ at the back of my mind. If that doubt is the first thing I associate with a decision and if the feeling lingers after exploring certain obvious alternatives I drop the decision altogether. So far this approach has been working amazingly. I am by no means implying not to take risks. On the contrary this approach not only helps you weed out time wasting opportunities but ensures you jump quickly at the next potential opportunity; when you feel excited about doing something even when in doubt. Only this time around your feeling of elation and wonder is greater than doubt. This my friend is the cue to pounce on it like a wild animal.

Here’s the deal, if ya wanna court the little lady, ya gotta be a straight shooter. Do ya got it?

These are some more lessons I want to take with me when I move out. And as again, I am hopeful, naively optimistic, sadly misinformed, but with each passing year I realize I have shed a part of my shell and made another feeble albeit successful attempt to stand on my own. I know I am very close.

Lets listen to something alternative today:

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The Demise of the MBA

Ever visited one of those Education Exposé at the Karachi Expo Center? Now the objective of an Education Fair is to bring together all proponents of our education industry on one single platform so there is an interaction mutually beneficial for everyone. But I don’t think they are doing any such thing and are in fact a big marketing and money making gimmick for the organizers and the participants.

I have been attending these fairs since past several years, firstly because my last job dictated an up to date understanding of the industry but more importantly because after the completion of my four year BBA(h) program I wasn’t quite content with my career outlook; I wanted to do some soul searching and revamp my idea of a working life, growing up, relationships, bread and butter and one of the avenues to explore was the local education fairs.

Now, maybe it was my own nonchalance during college years which had led to this predicament(the empty feeling of not being at the helm of affairs) but whatever the reason after graduation, I put all my immediate projects on hold (MBA) and decided to keep searching; working at places where I could ‘connect’ with the ambiance, colleagues and job description in the hope that I might discover what I REALLY WANTED TO DO IN LIFE!

Education Expos of Karachi are, in my opinion events usually organized by media houses like the Dawn Group or the Jang Group. They basically rent out several large halls at the Expo Center and then invite schools, colleges, universities both local and international and as of late ‘education consultants’, to set up their kiosk there. And in return they ask these institutions money. The event is open for public but the audience is usually students and parents on the lookout for quality schools. But what the audience is really looking for is career counselling as was I.

Now there is a serious dearth of proper career counselling in our education system and this fact is spectacularly reflected here at the expo center. Not once on my many trips here did I met a certified counselor or at least one willing to answer my query. This fact is very astonishing because there are some very big names here participating; universities and schools which are at the top of HEC list be it business, engineering, medicine and the arts not to mention good international colleges from Canada, USA, UK, Turkey, Malaysia and Australia.

The people manning these stalls are mostly young volunteers and junior staff which only know how to effectively distribute flyers and pamphlets. They can tell you everything about their institute but know jack of what career choice you should think about based on your credentials. They will be very quick to register your name, cell phone number and email so they can hit you with their next big promotion rather then guide you with what can actually benefit you. So to me it all seemed like a big marketing and admissions generating scam. The education consultancies are at the top of this game. They are anything but and should seriously change their name from consultancies to agents.

But I don’t want to put the blame of Pakistan’s education worries on education fairs. They do create some awareness of the opportunities people can take advantage of and considering the state of affairs here that is not so bad! However I do want to emphasis that whatever piece of advice I have gathered over the years has all been due to my own research; interviews with my bosses, friends studying abroad, some good teachers in my college, my job description and analysis of different industries, graduate examinations like SATs and the GMAT, articles online, university searches and much more.

It has taken 2 years for me to finally come to a conclusion regarding the choice of a masters program and the industry which suits me the most. So here I am, an aspiring journalist bracing myself for the work that lies ahead. It wont be easy. I have prepared my applications, written the statement of intent, gotten the recommendation letters signed and sealed and am now waiting for the offers OR rejections. And as I sit here waiting.. a very nerve racking feat I have decided to keep you abreast of the process. Maybe it will help someone one day.

Education Expos aren’t the only places I am disappointed at. Four years of business education exposed me to some fascinating things in life but had its own profound limitations which I was too immature at the time to realize. I will blog about what is wrong with the BBA and the MBA programs some other day since it deserves much needed attention. Look for the title ‘The Demise of the MBA Degree’.

But back to the topic, I have been meaning to write about some career tips and my personal story of realization, my ‘true calling’ (very dramatic, I know!) shall we say, and actually wanted to write something about it on New Years but at the time my admission process was not complete. Well, it is complete now but I still did not wanted to talk about serious issues like this (you must have noticed that this is my most serious post so far) before some response from the universities. Really don’t wana jinx it you know. But I feel I gotta let it out now as anyone who follows this blog would know that, writing helps me think.