Unlocking Opportunities! Part Two in a Three Part Series

Welcome back colleagues!

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my story, Why I chose CPS to pursue my dream! Part One in a Three Part Series.

This second part is about what was, for me, a remarkable journey and experience at CPS. My time in the MS COC  program was full of global workplace learning opportunities, intellectual challenges and my personal and professional growth.  There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin that is very close to my heart and my personal philosophy of life: “To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”  And, this quote guided me throughout my learning journey at CPS.

During my CPS journey, I was able to secure exceptional co-op placements and internships in both local and global organizations, because I was open to grab any and all possible learning adventures. I cannot thank my support system enough for being the collaborators in this journey. My professors, my fellow students, the curriculum and assignments, along with the Office of Global Services (OGS) collectively impacted my experience. These people and systems have had a significant role in preparing me for  global workplace challenges, in strengthening my communication skills, and in developing the knowledge and professionalism required to deliver quality work projects. It was a dream come true, to work with multicultural global leaders and being able to meet high level expectations.  I appreciated the recognition of being nominated for Outstanding Graduate Student Award 2015-2016 and the Northeastern University CPS Co-op Award. These acknowledgments were so meaningful to me, because they validated my hard work, commitment to professional growth and dedication to my academic learning.

What were my guiding principles for this successful learning journey? In reflection, I can identify four, which I believe apply to anyone, regardless of their background.

  1. Be Persistent

The key to fulfilling my dreams and achieving my goals is directly related to hard work grounded in persistence. Giving up is easy, feeling overwhelmed in a new culture, environment, education system and language is natural, stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. BUT, persistence with a positive attitude can change the game. I approached challenges with a can-do attitude and it only helped me move forward, push boundaries, and surprise myself.

  1. Acculturate Yourself

We all go through cultural shocks in new environments, especially when the ecosystem is different. Acculturation — and by that I mean seeking to understand my surroundings and participate in the local culture —  supported me through my culture shock process. Northeastern University has great on-campus resources, including  international tutoring and intercultural events organized by student groups. There is a great sense of ‘togetherness.’ A prime example of this was a Thanksgiving dinner organized for all Muslim students;  everyone brought their cultural food and we all enjoyed sharing together. Plus, the classroom assignments, especially those focusing on intercultural communication and cross-cultural adaptations, prepared me to work in global and diverse workplaces. In short, take advantage of the resources available to students, both on-campus and online.

  1. Find a Mentor

I recognized that I was not alone in this journey. I was blessed with several mentors, and each one truly helped me make some tough decisions. A mentor can be anyone: a professor, a fellow student, a work colleague, a manager. Ideally, that person is ready to share their life experiences (both professional and personal), act as a sounding board, and, yes, to help you learn by preventing the mistakes we may make as a beginner. I am not saying don’t make mistakes. Rather, a mentor can help you make informed decisions and learn from mistakes.

  1. Embrace Change

I found that by embracing the differences around me really supported my personal and professional development. After all, the only thing constant in this world is change. I live by the worldview that the sooner we embrace change, the better we can plan and adapt to that change. It will help you realize what you can control in a situation, both mentally and emotionally.

These are some thank you cards that I have received from my managers and mentors during my co-op and internships.

All in all, I am glad that I made the decision to pursue my educational dreams. On March 8, 2019, we celebrated International Women’s Day. I would like to thank all the wonderful women in my life supporting me and bringing me along with them.

Stay tuned for the last part of my story. I will be sharing how I gave back to the communities that were directly and indirectly involved in my learning journey.

Posted by Sahar Rehman, CPS ‘17

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