Sabeeka Qureshi: What if I fail? What if you fly?
MEng Computer Science and Software Engineering, 2020
This quote summarises my time at the University of Birmingham perfectly. Like other students, I began my journey at university feeling nervous. Coming from a background where neither of my parents had the privilege of attending higher education, it was difficult to navigate university life and careers without much guidance. Over time, I found myself occasionally doubting my ideas and choosing the safe option regarding my studies.
Applying for internships was difficult as I knew nobody who had applied for any. I did not know what resources were available to help me. Time spent on perfecting applications and attending networking events limited the time for my studies.
Through a lot of trial and error, I secured an internship at Goldman Sachs and BT in my second year. These internships were incredibly valuable to my development. They enhanced my technical skills and provided me with the training I would not have received whilst at university. Pushing myself past my comfort zone built my confidence – I was a project leader for 10 interns at Goldman Sachs which resulted in winning the prize for the best solution presented! I was also provided with resources such as having a buddy at BT who improved my coding habits and problem-solving skills (thanks Ben and Joe!).
Returning to university for my third year with the new skills and confidence I had acquired from my internships, my grade had boosted by 20%! This motivated me to complete an internship at Deutsche Bank in my third year. I believe it is through practical experiences that you learn the most – there is only so much you can learn from a textbook without applying it. Such experiences are crucial in the development of young people with their success in careers.
My peers noticed the progress I was making with applications, resulting in me coaching more than 20 students with their job search. I have noticed that there is a gap within our curriculum for students like me. Students are not taught essential business skills such as how to prepare for an interview or how to network successfully. There are simply not enough resources from people who have been in the same position before. Due to the highly competitive job market, application processes have more steps than ever before, intimidating more students.
My experiences have inspired me to do something about this issue by launching Hello World – a blog on what helped me with my career (applicable to all degrees). The blog is focused on everything related to applications, personal development, and career progression. I am also offering free 1-1 consultations for all students regarding their career (please get in touch on Instagram @sabeekablogs!). I believe every student deserves a chance regardless of their background. Whilst I am not a recruitment expert, I am happy to share the lessons I have learnt along the way, whether it is from my own mistakes or what I have learnt from experts. You can find me at www.sabeekaqureshi.com.
Finally, I graduated with a first-class with honours and I was awarded the school prize for attaining the highest marks on my course. This was not something I had imagined of achieving in my first year and it would not have been possible to achieve it if it were not for the skills and confidence I gained from my internships.
Do not fear “what if I fail?”, instead focus on “what if I fly?”.