BRAC University graduate Sheikh Saqif Ahmed shares his personal and professional happenings with YOUNIFI and conferred words of experience and advice to his aspiring juniors.
“I have completed my undergraduate at BRAC University from the Biotechnology department and currently I am committed to a full-time job. My childhood and school-life are both pinned to Mirpur. I was brought up there and I attended a Bengali Medium school located there as well. Although the means of communication in my school was Bangla, I was quite weak at it, hence I was somewhat of a misfit amidst well-spoken students. This occasionally led me to being teased by my friends and honestly, that did tug on my insecurities a bit. Back in school, I loved sports. I played a lot of outdoor sports, specifically volleyball and basketball.
Gradually, I proceeded to graduating from school and on the day of our farewell, I did something unprecedented. It was a strict rule to maintain full Bangla language in every form of communication there, however, on my farewell speech I spoke completely in English. It was not easy, but I was encouraged by one of my teachers and later the speech was very well received. It was on that day that I realized that I am quite spirited in public speaking.
Then came the episode of BRAC University. I was always passionate about Biology. In fact, I even wanted to be a doctor back in 2013, but that did not work out and eventually, after a little bit of research I decided to pursue an education in Biotechnology. Now that I am at the very end of my BRACU life I don’t think I will ever want to build a full-fledged career out of Biotechnology, rather I want to utilize its knowledge as an asset. It may come off strange to many people, but currently I am working at Daraz Bangladesh, an e-commerce company. I am aware of the fact that it has no correlation with biotech, as many people have pointed out, but I want to gain business experience. As a student I was intrigued by business and have always wished to practice it at some point in life, which is why I want to enroll into a master’s program related to bio-entrepreneurship. I believe this will help me merge business with science in my career several years from now.
In the very beginning of my career in BRACU, I didn’t do much besides attend classes. However, after my third semester in TARC, I decided to steer my life in a different direction. In TARC, I really wished to join the presentation skills activity, but due to excessive participation from students, I had to go for filmmaking which actually turned out to be very enjoyable and educational. I decided to focus on my personal development then and made connections with a few of the faculties there which actually helped me out later. After my episode in TARC, I joined the BRAC University Natural Sciences Club – BUNSC, with a few of my friends. It was pretty underwhelming there at first, due to the lack of activities, but I still managed to climb up to become an executive member over time. Because TARC pushes students towards presenting in class, it was a great opportunity for me to hone my presentation and communication skills on my own. I guess that gave me the courage to start conducting programs in BUNSC. I took baby steps towards hosting programs in BRACU itself – the first major program I anchored in was the BRAC University orientation program of Spring 2016.
Soon after in 2017, I stood for presidency in my club’s election and won. From the very beginning, I tried to tackle a thriving problem in the biotech department – the lack of communication between the seniors and juniors. Many a times I had seen that freshmen are not getting the adequate guidance they require and more often than not, many of them struggle to decide on a major. That is why, with the help of BUNSC, I came up with the idea of creating the opportunity where the juniors are assisted with the guidance they seek from their senior peers. In October of 2017, this initiative was finally made official and it’s now called BUNSC Pathshala. As present, it has six official instructors and an immense number of students who use this service. Besides that, one of my faculties in TARC, who is well-acquainted with me, suggested the presentation skills team to consider me as a new recruit, even though recruitment is done internally. It was because of her recommendation I was able to join the presentation skills team as an instructor and I still take classes in TARC.
Immediately after the completion of my undergraduate, I applied for a couple of jobs, including Daraz Bangladesh. It was a growing startup and I wanted to be in a place where I can add value to the company instead of being told what to do. The work culture here is vibrant; everybody is buzzing around working and our company departments are all united into one space. That is why the scope of learning is even greater as I have so many different people, skilled in various ways, working right next to me. Even though Daraz has nothing to do with my honors degree, it is a pivotal experience for me as it’s taking me a step closer to my actual dream. I want to learn and make as many mistakes I can before I turn towards entrepreneurship.
Students today are rampant with energy but have a hard time finding direction. Sometimes they are influenced by their parents and often fall victim to peer pressure, with regards on what they should actually do when they are faced with the entire world. Sometimes, it’s too late to turn back by the time a student finally realizes what he/she wants. My one piece of advice would be to be extremely vocal about what you believe and want out of your life because friends will leave and your parents won’t pay your bills ten years from now. Also, don’t underestimate the power of an internship. Try to find an internship in a field that attracts you and make as many connections as you can. Networking can truly take you far.”