Masters why and where?

By -
Students of NUST are the cream of this nation. There is no doubt about that…
When i used to hear this sentence all i did was laugh and jest at it, that this cream is “sour”. But now as time has passed i’ve started to realize that we are among the top batch of people of our nation who were bestowed upon the capabilities to compete for NUST as well as the resources to afford it, by Allah Almighty. There are brilliant children out there who didn’t get the opportunity what we have got. Now let me tell you one thing, NUST alumni are spread far and wide across the globe. We may not be competing with IIT of India (since its been only 15 batches of NUST so far) but our alumni have certainly left a good mark. A few example would do. High tech schools like Georgia Tech and Michigan State University have good experiences with NUSTians. We have alumni in MIT faculty. We have serial entrepreneurs with successful track record! So there is no second question about your futures.

The major question here is how to get the maximum out of our careers and reach the summit of the world. REST ASSURED that you are not going to compete at the NATIONAL level alone but you will be competing at the international level, sooner than you think. Indians and Chinese are going to team up for global domination to spearhead the Asian dominance over the globe in next 2 decades. Even if they don’t overtake the rest, they will come at par. Your career needs to put into perspective the bigger picture. You need to equip yourselves with the right skills, degrees and certifications which allow you to get to the top off your field.

My experience tells me that Indians and Chinese fellows don’t go for lesser stuff. They don’t compromise for quality no matter how hard it is to get. What i mean to say is that they target the top universities of the world even if they have to take loans for them upto 100,000 USD (yes loans are is so common). I know, coming from our backgrounds, a loan like this is a fortune. I don’t advise one to get too carried away either but i have got to know about one perspective which i would like to share with you folks. I don’t want to downplay anyone here.

Assuming that my rant above has made you feel how blessed you are to get such good education (against odds in Pakistan) i would further my case by saying that you stand in the top notch of this country. Let’s zoom out. You are in the brilliant lot of the 6th most populous country of the world, which despite its immense human resource, talent, opportunities and potential is still way down the ranks of global leaders. Yet you folks have a jump start, within years, you shall all be flying accross the globe to become a part of the world’s global population. If you zoom out more you will find people at the top of every field to be from the top schools of the world. (Don’t mean to downplay those who didn’t get a chance to reach the top schools).

From this point onwards our lives will be tough if we really want to make it to the top (to forbes list maybe, or TED and who knows nobel prizes). What will assist us in our quest is to get our masters degrees (/Phd) from the best schools in our fields. I don’t mean to say we are less qualified but the whole point of this argument is:

“IF you have the talent to be at the top, why rest? Why not be at the top? Why not apply to best schools? You are the top lot”

Now before people get me wrong here, i would like to mention that i’m not ignoring the economics of this climb to the sky. I know most people have economic problems. I would tell you to still keep your hopes very high. Don’t let your situation beat you because if you work hard and Allah has destined it for you, nothing will stop you from reaching the summit even if you don’t go to top schools. Aim for the top, work hard, pray and hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

Those who can afford to do it, don’t even wait a second to apply to the best schools even if you have to pay something (it will pay of later). If you don’t have the budgets and Allah has made the rules of the game different for you don’t be afraid!.. Take the challenge. Let’s see what can you do?

Come out of your 5 year plans of lives. Take a deep breath. Study, listen and learn. Talk to your alumni and all the people you may know of. Facebook, NUST Alumni Association, LinkedIn are one of the best sources fellows! You can still find very competitive and creative programs in Singapore, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Japan, China, Australia apart from the usual erasmus, Sweden, US and Canada.

Learn and study the fields that exist. Don’t be fooled around to think in strict terms of EE and CS only… If you don’t know the terms “Operations research”, “Systems Engineering”, “Energy Economics”, “Financial Engineering”, “Education & Policy”, “Applied Physics”, “Management Engineering”, “Industrial Engineering”, “Communications (not in digital or analog communications sense)”, “Biotechnology”, “technology & innovation”, “ICT4D”, I would recommend you to please explore them before you tow the line of your ancestors.

Rushing into MS isn’t even necessary. Take your time. If you aren’t sure start working in the field you are interested in (be it DSP or IP or environment). Work for sometime you will notice change of interests!… Also do not forget to including ur extra-curricular into perspective while searching for masters programs. e.g. i was always interested in problem solving and creativity: could never link it to my future degree. But now i know the programs which integrate your engineering background with innovation and problem solving. That’s the best match right? The program that pumps adrenaline to your blood and not be like the boring coding that you are so used to!

Why masters? Because you are no longer a local player! You are global fellows who have to get at the very top in a bid to bring the fruits of your effort back to your country. (Why not PhD? Well its even better! but not all are that persistent with studies).

Besides, did i mention second degree is good for career? and never a negative! Allah knows what you will end up with. Maybe an MBA after a PhD (yes i’ve examples) but keep your perspective straight. Enjoy your life yet don’t be too bookish about it 🙂

Post write comments:

After i finished writing this article i got many comments and following are worth sharing:

Waqas Aliemuddin (National University of Singapore Ranked in top ten)
I hope it serves as a motivation for those who are contented with what they have acheived. Its right, graduates of NUST dont deserve to sit back and relax. They should always strive for more.
Its true that you are already at the top level of the local market, but why not aim for the top level of the global market? Many people ask me, ” what will you get if you get a masters degree?” and i always replied, ” what will i lose if i get a masters degree?” One of two year of my professional life? A couple of million worth of resources? Believe me, once you enter the bigger picture, these things become trivial. You start aiming for much more….
If you think finances are your problem then i am your best example. I came to NUS with only 1 semster’s tution fee and some money for a couple of months of living. Once i reached I took a loan from the university and the terms and conditions are so user freindly. Many people do the same here and i have seen examples of people who return a million dollars worth of loan in just 3 to 4 months after their studies (out of their pays). You just have to take a risk to reap the ripe fruit.
So i urge the students to continue with their struggles to acheive more. If you cant find a scholarship, find a financial aid. Lots of universities offer it.
And secondly, Dont restrict your domain to EE or CE. Their is a huge range of courses available which are in so much demand in the global market. Look, Listen and See for yourself.!!

Another reviewer also presented the other perspective

Faizan Razzaq (Telenor)

…there are better ways, or to be precise, more ways to achieve the goal. Like everybody is not tuned to become an engineer, in the same way, everybody can’t be Masters or PhD degree holder.

What I am trying to say is you need to have a clear goal in mind. If you think you are the master type, go for it. Don’t think about that no one from my college has ever been to Harvard or MIT or no one has ever scored a 1600 in GRE. If no one has done it, then I’ll do it with the grace of God. Never set you goals lower because your potential is limitless.

If you think you are fed up of all this books and course stuff, and thinks you’ll better fit in a industry, then get on to it. Work hard, develop business insight, observe you colleagues, your manager, your CEO. Observe why they do what they do. Understand the business cycle. After that if you think you can continue with the corporate structural hierarchy, continue there.

Aiming for the best is not a crime. So why not strive for the best. If you think you’ll better serve the community by creating jobs rather than looking for one, start an entrepreneurial venture. There are plenty of good examples of growing into a successful business by starting from the absolute basic. See around yourself, opportunities are waiting for you. Look at the stuff you use daily for your comfort. A TV remote control, heater, power supplies, search light and many more small scale tech stuff. Being an engineer doesn’t mean that you have to engage yourself in all the nonsense tech stuff which you don’t even care about. Being an engineer means to use your knowledge to come up with an optimal and profitable solution for a problem. You can be a motivational speaker, an environmental activist, address social issue, go to rural areas to benefit the deprived children by imparting them education. What matter’s how you leave a mark on the society.

Don’t be hesitant to take a bold step, for when you’ll grow old, you’ll always had the regret of ‘IF I had done it, what would my life turned out to be’.

People say, either you can die rich or you can die happy, because money can’t buy happiness. I say, is it too much to ask for both. Getting rich by making money should never be the goal. You goal should be to benefit others from the money you make. Go for money, everybody needs it. But don’t aim for it … You might loose your character in the process. Money come and go, but this is no replacement for knowledge and eternal bliss!

Always aim higher and have no ambiguity about goals. The thing that matters is what you choose to leave behind. It’s upon us, this generation, to get into the driving seat and take this country to the point where our forefathers envisioned it for. Once again, the most important thing is you have clarity of thought!

Clarification:

Point of the article was to go to good school to interact and learn from best minds. The learning experience is accelerated and long lasting. Somethings are there that you can’t learn in Pakistan alone… The experience of good schools includes interaction with people across the globe and this itself is a great experience.

Society based learning is entirely different debate which is beyond the scope of article…. My history tells me all the great Muslim scientists went to good schools too! even to bukhara and samarkand. They didn’t sit tight in their own city right? They traveled and learned.

Suggestions & Feedback highly welcome!

UPDATE: Those looking for guidance on applying to grad school please visit this site http://www.possibilitiespakistan.org/.

Many congrats to those who got inspired and searched for good programs and got admitted into Financial Engineering and ICTs in education at Santa Clara and Stanford respectively.

He is an alumnus of NUST (CEME, Electrical) 2009 Batch and Cornell University (M.Eng Systems Engineering) Class of 2011. Uzair has been an active member of student societies and EME Alumni Association. He was the co-founder of EME Environment Club and Society of ICTs (at EME College). During his undergrad he has been a correspondent of the EME college's fortnightly magazine 'campbuzz' and currently he is on the editorial panel of the EME Alumni Newsletter. Uzair is also an alumnus of ITU Telecom Asia Youth Forum (2008, Bangkok) and a proud NUSTian, who represented Pakistan at the forum. After the forum, he has been working with the youth around the globe to build a human network (h-network.org). He has also been blogging for ITU (UN's sister organization) on school and community connectivity through ICTs. He is also a Project Manager at Possibilities Pakistan (a platform for Pakistani youth to discuss study abroad prospects). He can be reached at ms2346(at)cornell(.)edu

10 Comments to Masters why and where?

  1. Usama Hamayun

    Uzair! U always come up with such inspiring write-ups! Cheers to U, keep writing.

    I know u since my days of college when u came to Sir Syed College for Career Counselling.

  2. mohammad mohtasham

    too much emphasis is placed on going for Postgrad and getting PhD's yet very little is said in the name of innovation and entrepreneurship ,,

    i certainly dont doubt the quality of grads NUST churns out, yet dont see final year drop outs coming up with napster and yahoo ?

    mind you, to start Google and Facebook ,sergi and mark Zuck didnt have PhD's , heck they didnt even complete their Bachelors from harvard , yet they took the risk and went for it ,instead of ending up in 9-5 routines which couldnt earn them the fortune in a lifetime they now make in a day..

    now im not saying going for MS or a PhD is a bad idea, there is certainly no doubt about the advantage of having an advance degree, but at the end of the day, all that matters is your gut, determination and creativity ,, only through these qualities do you advance in life… MS or PhD's are OK if you plan something on the R&D side

    mohammad mohtasham

    operations engineer

    BP pakistan E and P Inc

    26 mtse

  3. I would respectfully disagree with sir mohtasham. I had anticipated this question and was rather waiting for it to be raised.

    In our analysis of Google, Facebook, Napster we tend to forget that the dropouts were from Harvard, Stanford and not from some third world country. If i get example of a dropout from thirdworld university reaching upto 5bn USD valuation i would surely change my stance!

    Why do people in places like stanford and harvard and MIT get to do so much innovation and get big on it? Well these things are if you allow me to say "in the air" in such universities. They encourage you to think big and differently unlike institutes like NUST.

    I certainly don't doubt caliber of NUSTians but i've yet to see undergrad NUSTians with patents! Here 1 out of atleast 20 would surely have a patent or two in undergrad projects.

    Also the students in top universities (whose droup outs we exemplify) allow students to study subjects like finance and economics or whatever they like. Do we allow such things at NUST? The whole point is that we do NOT have enough support or encouragement for our brains to visualize how to change the whole world here.

    Also i would disagree with R&D part as well. I've talked to our alumni from year 1996 till recent grads and i was recommended to do Masters no matter if i've to take up a job or R&D.

    For me masters is only a way to get out to the innovation hubs of the world (and innovations at universities are better than most multinationals… unless we are talking about Google, Apple, Microsoft, Lockheed or Boeing.. but our undergrads don't get there before 3-5 years right?)and learn from there. Get a perspective of how the process of "Eureka to Billion USD worth company" actually goes!

    Like i said. This is just one perspective. Good thing about perspectives is you get to read viewpoints. Then its upto readers to compare different view points and decide for their careers! So i highly welcome difference of opinions 🙂 Infact i learn more from reading other views.

  4. well,I enjoyed reading the article and it has provided some valueable insight into answering about "why to do Masters anyway".I personally have not the experience of studying in NUST yet but in context of what the article emphasized,I certainly agree with most points especially the part where writer calls it a competetion at global level and we actually restrict ourselves within the our national boundaries and we hardly consider ourselves at par with top univesities like MIT,Stanford etc.We need to broader our horizon and make ourselves capable enough to compete at global level and this will come out once we start interacting at international level and engage ourselves in such foriegn projects which will provide us a competitive advantage.And Iam not at all advocating here to aim strictly for top universties(as opposed to what the article suggests),we rather need to develop such skills and competencies within ourselves no matter which university be it NUST,LUMS,IBA we are studying.At the end of day,It's a person's own choice whether he/she wants to stand out of the crowd based on her self confidence,communication and presentation skills,good gpa

    and inner self.That's what indusry needs,we need to get rid of this mentality of 'branding" too,cause that gets too much into people head that they loose the direction,yeah we should go for brands and labels and titles if we do not lose sight of our end destination which is "what we made out of ourselves in the course of learning for two years or beyond and in the end,when we stand alone,do we become part of the crowd or stand out from the crowd based on our very own skills and abilities and NOT on what university we graduated from".

  5. future NUSTIAN

    Hi,

    Guys I'm in a dilemma right now :S. Right now I'm studying overseas in the middle east in highschool. I have done A levels in 4 subjects with all A*s. I have perfect scores in my SATs and so on… (i'm not trying to boast, i'm just trying to give an academic standing about myself). I have two options right now –>

    i) Go to pakistan, then after 4 years go for masters outside.

    ii) Go to USA or canada from now for undergrad and carry on for a masteres degree.

    The thing is that I am confused about my decision and don't know whether I can get into a prestigious university after graduating from NUST. This post caught my attention when I read that Mr Uzair is currently at cornell, an ivy league school in the states. I'd like to know the general opinion as to whether I should go to the states/canada right now or after 4 years. Also what number of students (rather the percentage of students) who apply to prestigious universities like Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Caltech etc actually get in after studying from NUST. Also what percentage of the NUST class actually goes for masters abroad.

    I'd like to share a few more things though. I am a person who likes to make new things. Making robots and other electronics projects are my hobby. For e.g. I have made a CNC mill, a UAV etc etc. The main platforms that I use for my small scale projects are arduino(or ATMEL) and Picaxe. Are people who generally get admission in NUST deeply in touch with electronics and programming etc. when they join NUST. I say this because I have the feeling that most people who join NUST do it through tremendous studying and don't really have the motives to innovate the future of technology. I mean they are studying for the sake of just becoming an engineer or doctor rather than for changing the future. Is that true? (Please don't take this in a wrong way… I'm not able to put my words in a proper way. I am saying this because my own sister took admission in NUST and although her marks etc were amazing, she didn't really want to become an engineer, for me its different, I really want to learn and innovate)

    I hope my comment isn't too boring. I really appreciate what irnustian is doing. Thanks alot to anyone who replies in advance, and thanks to all the people who make irnustian what it is today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *