Life After Graduation: Insights from NU-Q Alumni

Safae Daoudi, Staff Reporter

(Photo/ NU-Q)

It is a difficult thing to transition from university to the real world, but patience is key to overcome post-graduation challenges, according to a panel of Northwestern University in Qatar alumni held on Nov. 11.   

The webinar was moderated by Marie Newkirk, career services manager, and featured guest speakers Sheerena Qazi, Maryam Al Thani, Mohammed Noordine, and Abdulla Kamal. It served as an opportunity for students to ask questions and get informed about job prospects and essential skills for life after graduation. 

Abdulla Kamal, Communication, Class of 2019.

As a fresh graduate, Abdulla Kamal started working with beIN sports without having a full picture of what his job will look like. He had previously completed an internship for the same company but only realized the extent of his responsibilities as a full-timer. 

He worked for 2 years as a producer and sometimes on the field as an event coordinator. His job involved research and coordinating with football organizations locally and internationally. He also handled the news coverage of sports events. Drawing on lessons he learned from his own experience, Kamal emphasized essential life skills to enter the world of work. 

“Patience, communication and being able to work under pressure and being able to work with different kinds of people, because everyone has a different kind of workflow and it’s just basically being able to adapt,” he said.

To foster these skills, he advised students to engage in activities outside of academia such as school trips, starting or being part of clubs, attending workshops and meetings. He concluded by saying it is important to take things one step at a time and to be patient and kind to themselves. 

“Keep an open mind and never look at people and what they are doing as it might affect the way you think about yourself. Go at your own pace and take it slow and don’t really think this person already did this and I am this and I didn’t achieve anything,” he added. 

Shereena Qazi, Journalism, Class of 2014.

Qazi is currently serving as a journalist at Al Jazeera and she reports on stories from South Asia with a focus on Afghanistan. 

Before she joined NU-Q, Qazi completed an internship in a news organization. This allowed her to figure out what journalism is all about and decide if it was something she wanted to pursue. 

Qazi retraced her difficult journey to kickstart her career as a journalist. Once she graduated, she started researching Afghanistan, her country of origin, and she found a story that she wanted to pursue. 

“I pitched the story to about twenty organizations and I reached out to journalists here in Doha, but my pitch kept getting rejected,” she said. 

She refused to give up on her dream and decided to self-finance and travel to Afghanistan to get contacts and elements of interest for her story. 

Her hard work finally paid off and she was able to get her story published and eventually got a job at Al Jazeera. Qazi highlighted that it is crucial to remain optimistic in such a competitive field.

“It takes a while to build your network group,” she pointed out, encouraging students to start talking to people and reaching out to different entities. She said that her journey proved to her the importance of networking and getting people to help you grow as a professional. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said.

Qazi emphasized the importance of being more assertive and standing up for oneself. She explained that “you want to put your point across, fight for things and argue for a promotion.”

Qazi also added that in the professional world, it is inevitable to find oneself in “situations where people will provoke you” and that the best way to address it is through calm and diplomacy. 

When asked about one of the most important qualities employers look for, Qazi said, “In my experience employers look for enthusiasm and problem solvers…always initiate solving problems.”

She added that she has come to understand that “personality really matters in a working environment.”

“When we graduate we have a student mindset but once you graduate, you will have to pick up your pace and realize deadlines and timing are very important,” she concluded.

Maryam Al Thani, Communication, Class of 2016. 

Al Thani previously worked for the ministry of transport and communications, but she is currently a researcher for Qatar Olympics. 

Al Thani stressed the importance of engaging in extracurricular activities instead of focusing only on academics. 

“Honestly when you apply for jobs…they don’t really see your grade; they don’t care much about your grade. All they look for is experience and what you can bring to the table to help them, she said. 

She also added that communication, self-awareness, enthusiasm, and resilience are very important qualities to possess, which makes an employee stand out. 

Addressing seniors, she encouraged them to not feel discouraged by the pandemic and its impact. 

“Be kind to yourself and be patient, there are many opportunities out there. Go to career fairs, networking, get yourself out there,” she said. 

Muhammad Noordine, Communication, Class of 2014.

Formerly the senior editor at Qatar Living, Noordine is now the marketing manager and public relations specialist. 

He talked about how his education training prepared him for work. He explained that before he applied to NU-Q, he had no exposure to journalism. 

“My parents wanted me to become an engineer,” he said, adding that he convinced them to let him pursue communication. 

“I had a rough start coming from an Indian background and I had challenges adapting to how things work here,” he added. 

Things got better for Noordine in sophomore year as he started getting used to the workload and learned to take advantage of NU-Q’s resources. 

Noordine emphasized the importance of seizing networking opportunities and cultivating soft skills. He also talked about his time in university and how it helped him meet people from different backgrounds and have all sorts of exposures and experiences. He cited good communication, self-awareness, resilience, and problem-solving as important skills to develop in order to be successful in the job market. 

“Trying to demonstrate that you are not just book smart and that you have people skills and you are eager to learn, that’s what employers look for,” he said.

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