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Iqrah Nadeem
Iqrah Nadeem

Posted on

Graduating soon .. my past, present and future plans πŸ‘€

Hi πŸ‘‹

My name is Iqrah and I am about to graduate with a BSc. (Hons) Computer Science degree soon πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“

Back in high school, I made the decision to pursue one of the coolest subjects I had ever come across.

I still vaguely remember one of the very first CS labs in school where I was introduced to Python and wrote a simple script with variables, operators and print statements. It got me extremely excited ✨

Until then I was only a user, following instructions given by the computer to use various apps. But that day for the first time ever I sensed the power of writing code to make a computer do what I want, communicating in this half-English, half-gibberish language.

In my first year of university, I was ecstatic to come across this thing called hackathons πŸ’–. I attended my very first, and many more, on my own, fell in love with the format and went on to form a hackathon society, helloHackers, and host local hacks days and an annual hackathon, ManMetHacks, at my university.

I wanted everyone at my university to experience a hackathon at least once in their student lives but it clashed with the feelings of being ashamed at not really winning many hackathons or any at the start, so I truly felt like I don't deserve to be the one advocating for it because I must be not smart enough, even though I know hackathons are more than just winning.

I have always struggled with feeling proud of any achievements. I always have the mindset that if I can do it, anyone else can, it's nothing special. But if someone else achieves anything, they must be extremely talented and special.

Attending tons of hackathons, meetups, conferences and tech events has made me acquainted with a whole lot of people, but again, I don't know why but I feel like I'm causing too much of an inconvenience if I reach out to them, so I avoid that until extremely necessary.

Anyway, in my first year, I learnt about spring internships, applied and got accepted for one. It was a week-long internship with all expense paid for staying at a fancy hotel, travel, food and stipend. The experience was fun in terms of enjoying the materialistic perks but the "work" experience itself was pretty dull.

I didn't enjoy sitting hours on end listening to presentations about how the company functioned. It felt more like a week-long marketing campaign than an internship and the only project we were required to do was a group presentation on Cryptocurrency.

Regardless, I brushed off the experience thinking it was a one-week thing and carried on with my uni life but never applied for short internships again.

Second-year of uni I learnt about this organisation called Code First: Girls, worked extremely hard on advertising it to the students and was successfully able to set up a chapter and run multiple cohorts of the Python and web development course.

This was my first time teaching code and I loved every second of it. The feeling of introducing coding to people brings me a lot of joy, it's one of the most fulfilling things I have experienced ✨.

Uni life, for the most part, brought me joy because a lot of our assignments are hands-on project-based and the hackathon duties were always fun to do, except trying to find sponsors, that is my least favourite part about planning hackathons. It was not all sunshine and rainbows but receiving support from my lecturers to start things like the society and CF:G chapter is something I'll always be grateful for.

During my second year, I also came across the concept of placement years. Prior to this, I was under the impression that I'll have to finish my degree first before I can apply for a full-time role but placement years are essentially a year off from studies right before your final year where you complete a year-long work experience in the industry.

This seemed intriguing because I had never had a full-time role before and I would get to experience what it is to work in the industry before graduating.

The sad part about this was the application process. Time-consuming forms, annoying aptitude tests, timed coding interviews, cold rejection e-mails and a whole lot of stress and feeling of worthlessness.

Managing studies, extracurricular and job applications, all at the same time, really took a toll on me but I REALLY wanted to try out the placement year so I applied to any and all opportunities I could find, accepted the very first offer I received and called it a day.

But from the very moment I accepted the offer, I wasn't too excited about the role, so in hindsight, I didn't only do a disservice to the company but also myself by accepting the offer without much thought, but I didn't know any better then.

Again, the pay was good, I got to experience living in a flat that was not a student accommodation, learn adult stuff like setting up bills, pay rent, think about credit score etc but the actual job itself was draining and not fulfilling at all.

I would cry to and fro from work, delay sleeping because it would mean when I wake up I would have to go to work again and try to leave from work as early as possible. My line manager and everyone except one person in the team seemed very nice but the work just didn't align with my goals and I felt like my work was not having any significant positive impact on the world. I was getting paid to spend time on working something that the world will totally be okay without.

To bring back a bit of joy, I continued to travel back to Manchester every week right after work to teach CF:G, attend hackathons some weekends and also started a YouTube channel to let out my creativity.

All this helped to an extent but I had reached a dark place and I could not continue any longer. I contacted a counsellor at my University and reached out to my parents for help.

There's only been one other time when I have felt this extent of sadness and distress, so eventually, I had to make a call for my own happiness and sanity, and discuss the resignation process with my line manager.

I am not a confrontational person, so this was extremely awkward to do but it had to be done.

I had to stay at least 9 months on placement for my student visa to not be revoked, I had reached a place where I was ready to even drop out if it meant resigning earlier but the winter holidays and paid leaves helped me get through the duration.

I had maxed out on my paid leaves so it meant either continuing for a couple of extra weeks than 9 months or get paid less for my last month, I chose the latter.

I am fully aware that I am extremely privileged to be able to do this, but it was necessary.

After this experience, I was exceptionally unmotivated to do anything really, especially completing my degree. This is also the time the pandemic hit, so in-person hackathons and events stopped, I haven't been the biggest fan of online events but I am getting used to it now, especially YouTube and live-streaming.

The original plan was to find a full-time developer job after graduation but that doesn't seem that appealing anymore.

A few months ago, I was trying to convince myself to suck it all up and just go with the traditional graduate route of applying for grad jobs, be a little more mindful of accepting an offer and hope for the best.

And I am aware that this placement was a one-off work experience and I see a lot of people loving their job so it's not that I won't ever want to find a full-time role again but I need some time to process and understand before I commit to something of this sort.

I'll be graduating soon and haven't applied for a single job yet.

I have been ignoring emails from all the recruitment agencies I signed up for and don't really have an offer that I can brag about to my circle.

And this again, I know, comes from a place of privilege that I am super grateful to have but it kind of makes me feel guilty too.

I had a talk with my parents and asked for one more year of their support after graduation.

In this one year, I want to only work on things that I want to work on and not because someone else is telling me to.

I want to concentrate on my health, my content creation skills, do a bit of coding too so that I don't get too rusty and overall just do what I want to do, within reason.

There is no surety that I'll figure everything out in this one year but I won't be able to live with myself if I don't take this one year off for myself πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

If things don't work out, I'll resort to doing things that I am supposed to do as opposed to things that I want to do.

It would be ideal if both of those aligned but as of now they don't, and having the privilege to make a choice, I am choosing to prioritise myself.

It does come with a bit of baggage of feeling like a failure for not applying and finding any jobs and having to leech off of my parents for another year, considering they've already done so much for me already but I need to make peace with that.

Anyway, that's all that I want to pour out for now πŸ˜…

The official one year starts when my results are out in June or July so I still have a few weeks to plan a few things for my year off.

There's excitement mixed with fear of the unknown but wish me luck I guess 🀞🏼

K bye.

Top comments (2)

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yusufcodes profile image
yusufcodes

Iqrah, this was a great read. Thank you for sharing your experiences - I know that it isn’t easy to share so much! You’ve done so well over these years, coming over to Manchester to study & take up lots of awesome opportunities. I really do admire your work ethic and tenacity, it truly is amazing. I know you will find the right thing for yourself soon, keep doing what you’re doing 😊

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iiqrah profile image
Iqrah Nadeem Author

I truly appreciate your comment, thank you so much for the kind words and for always being such a great friend πŸ’–βœ¨ Glad to have bonded over our placement experience, but you've been such an inspiration, absolutely wish you the very best for the future πŸš€

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