As we grow up, we are expected to invest large amounts of time, energy and focus into our future. After high school, we feel pressured to choose the right major and the right university that would equip us with the necessary tools to facilitate our path to success and self-fulfillment. However, graduating college carries the serious responsibility of building a steady, comfortable and interesting life in the post-university, adult world. The Daily Q reached out to 5 different NU-Q alumni who hold degrees from Education City universities and asked them about their experience and accomplishments post-graduation.
“My four years of university definitely adequately prepared me for “the real world” and I found I wasn’t playing catch up like I thought I would,” said Ola Shaath, 22, a Georgetown University in Qatar alumnus. The International History graduate expressed her gratitude towards student jobs and the fast-paced life in Education City, saying that they have been her most rewarding experiences and biggest assets, easing her way into a real job post-graduation. “I have been working successfully in the British embassy for around a year and a half now. In addition to my role, I am also co-chairing [two committees]: The Away Day committee and Staff Survey committee.”
Alessandra El Chanti
Northwestern University in Qatar’s very own Alessandra El Chanti, 22, graduated in 2019 with a communication degree. “I believe that my biggest accomplishment was getting into graduate school and pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media at Northwestern University in [Evanston] Illinois,” said El Chanti. As an aspiring documentary filmmaker, getting the opportunity to specialize in the field of Documentary Media is a crucial step in her career as she hopes to someday use her expertise to narrate the true stories of the MENA region. Alessandra wishes to create documentaries that showcase how the Middle East is initiating change within its region while in the midst of conflict. She wants to counter the narrative of the region as a conflict — a recurring theme in many movies and documentaries about the MENA region.
Things don’t end here for El Chanti’s post-graduation experience thus far. Another accomplishment she shared with The Daily Q is the short documentary Revive the Lira’s Glory, which she filmed in Lebanon during her senior year at NU-Q. This documentary revolves around a Lebanese artist who paints on the national banknote famous Lebanese figures who have high emotional value to the country, such as the well-known and iconic singer Fairuz. She says that it works as a metaphor to revive the Lebanese cultural and economic currency in an era where the Lebanese economy is suffering. El Chanti finds it interesting that the youth in the Middle East are creative and use many different mediums to tackle political issues. Her documentary was screened in four different film festivals in the region. It was also recently premiered November, 24 at the annual Ajyal Film Festival in Qatar.
For other alumni, success didn’t come instantly. Saad Moazam, 24, decided to pursue a career in electrical engineering and thus studied at Texas A&M University in Qatar. However, his journey was nothing short of difficult. “High school was easy for me, [but] that definitely changed in university. I had a pretty low GPA, and not much motivation to continue,” explained Moazam. After starting many projects as a student and “failing miserably,” as he says, his graduation from TAMU-Q had to be delayed by a year. His own startup company VertiPro aimed at developing an Augmented Reality solution for patients suffering from Meniere’s Disease, but it had fallen apart in 2018 after three years of work.
“As graduation drew closer, many people around me had scared me into thinking that I wasn’t going to get any jobs or good opportunities because of my dismal academic performance,” Moazam said. Now, almost 5 months post-graduation, he got accepted into Ernst & Young (EY), one of the largest and most prestigious consulting firms in the world. In addition to that, he is a business partner in a local robotics company and is developing his own startup project, namely, an online course on the topics of entrepreneurship and innovation. Moazam said that countries that usually do not have access to the facilities that EC students are gifted with inspired his upcoming project and landed him a spot as a speaker at the World Incubation Summit ’19 in Doha. Saad is also a mentor at the Qatar Sports Tech Hackathon, HBKU SDG Hackathon, and the Doha Learning Days event by WISE.
“Leaving the classroom and going out of my way to do different things taught me a lot about myself. I got a good degree, with a not so good GPA,” reminisced Moazam. “As cliché as
this may sound, I discovered that the path(s) least taken are usually the most rewarding.”
Luma Mansi navigated her way through choosing a major that suits her, diving into all the opportunities and exposure offered to her. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar with a degree in Interior Design in 2019. “The way VCU teaches the ID [Interior Design] program is really versatile, so I learned a lot of different skills like photography, writing, exhibition design, set design, graphic design, the fundamentals of art. I even took a glass blowing class once, ” recounted Mansi.
But finding a job that suited her was a challenge. Her first position post-graduation was not a smooth experience, as fresh graduates would expect for themselves. Right after her graduation, she was offered a job in a company founded by two other VCUarts Qatar students. “I left after a month as I realized that I didn’t want to do an office job, and I wanted to get into set design,” said Mansi.
She’s thankful that her second job was a better fit for her, on a film set. “ DFI [Doha Film Institute] was looking for art interns to help on the set of one of their Qatari Film Fund shorts; Olayan,” explained Mansi, “and my professor recommended me and a friend.” She now works as a freelance set designer and art director on the set of a short film titled “Fox.”
Ahmed Hussein Attia
Ahmed Hussein Attia, 24, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar with a Bachelors in Business Administration in 2018. Attia described his time at CMUQ as challenging and required a lot of adaptation to a heavy workload, which would later serve him well in his career. “Currently, I work at BRF S.A Qatar as a Logistics Excellence and Quality Analyst while pursuing an MSc in logistics and supply chain from Hamad Bin Khalifa University,” explained Attia to The Daily Q. BRF S.A., a Brazilian company, is one of the biggest food companies in the world, that sells products in over 150 countries, spread over all five continents.
“My role is to ensure efficient and quality performance across all the disciplines of logistics from the moment our products reach Hamad Port till they arrive to retailers where customers have access to the product,” Attia said. However, his endeavors and work achievements stretch beyond logistics and quality control, taking a completely unusual turn. Music is also a prominent part of Attia’s life. He said, “I was always enthusiastic about music as it was an energy source for me at university and work. I manage a couple of local musicians in Qatar under the name of my organization, “The Plug ME!” We facilitate the communication between [the] talent bookers and the artists.” Currently, Attia’s work in The Plug ME revolves fully around the booking management for MVRS (@justmvrs).
All current students and alumni can vouch that school work is consuming and very often draining, but never useless. “My experience at Carnegie Mellon could be perfectly expressed as the most difficult mental and physical test I have ever had to go through. However, the environment enabled other students and I to push our boundaries and adapt…,” recalled Attia. “Qatar Foundation raised us to be driven for excellence and beyond excellence. We are pioneers and enablers for a better future.”