Blog by Mahdi Murad, business administration, '14 Amsterdam, December 2016: Recently, one of my best and dearest friends who also happens to be an AUIS alum, visited me in Amsterdam. It was a short visit, but a big part of our conversation was about all the experiences we shared during our times at AUIS. The student government, student clubs, blogs, demonstrations and many more were some of the memories we recalled. It was an inspiring meeting looking at where we both stand now. I kept thinking about AUIS even after my friend left. I have always valued my experiences at AUIS and have always been thankful for what the university has offered me. The words, “Without AUIS, I would not be able to stand where I am now,” started almost all my conversations with my friends. AUIS was definitely the one and only place that offered me a number of opportunities that would have been too difficult to get elsewhere in the country during my college life. So I, once again, thank AUIS, its professors, staff members, and students who have been, and continue to be, a great source of inspiration to me. While browsing through the AUIS website, I came across these words from my previous blog, “I not only majored in business administration, but I also became a journalist, a playwright, and a sports lover through the various extracurricular activities that AUIS offers its students,” and, “I believe that the extra knowledge and confidence that I gained, along with my degree, have been really helpful to me in getting hired by one of the most well-known international companies around the world!” That was what I said about two and a half years ago. Have I changed my mind now? The answer is absolutely not! I analyzed every word I stated during the last years after I graduated at AUIS. Indeed, each word reflects what I have achieved so far. I have many friends, a majority of them AUIS students and graduates, who ask me how I got to where I am now. The answer is not impossible nor is complicated: harness every single moment of your life at AUIS and make use of all the opportunities you can get. For someone from outside AUIS in our country, the words “extracurricular activities,” and “extra knowledge” might not mean much, however, if you ask the same question to an AUIS member, it could mean everything. It could mean the basketball team, the soccer team, journalism club, debate club, drama club, writing club, reading club, or a variety of other activities; things like study abroad exchange programs and internships. So, this helps you see how different AUIS is. And my advice to the current students is to be as proactive as possible; do not only look at the opportunities, go after each one of them. I was personally one of those students who was engaged in as many of these activities as possible. Did they help me? Absolutely! In addition, I totally understand that AUIS requires a lot of time and dedication for its curriculum, classes, and exams. However, successful students will be able to manage their time in a way that could dedicate some of their focus to all the wonderful opportunities AUIS offers in addition to its prestigious system of education. Furthermore, I would like to leave you with few points that I learnt from my professors, friends, and everyone I work with. These are points that helped me achieve many of my goals. Firstly, work on creating a rich resume that should be populated with experiences related to your dream career. Having a strong major such as business administration was good but never enough to help me get the job. It was mostly about the related skills I managed to develop while I was a student. My bachelor’s degree helped me become one of the top candidates for the job, but the extracurricular activities such as journalism, theater, internships and volunteer work were the reason I was chosen for the job. So, know what you would like or want to do now before you graduate. And always work around the expected skills you will need to get that career after you graduate. Secondly, do more of what you think you are good at, and don’t change your mind for something that you are not sure you will succeed at. When I graduated from high school, almost everyone who knew me was surprised that I didn’t go to engineering or medical school. I was honest with myself at that time. I knew these two were not for me, and I would not be happy or successful at them. I loved English at that time, and always wanted to speak English fluently. Therefore, I decided to join AUIS and chased that dream until I achieved my goal. Within AUIS, after the English program, I realized I would enjoy business. So, I soon decided to chase that dream too. In a nutshell, you need to find your dream job and passion and chase it. Ask for advice as much as possible but be honest about what you are good at and what you want to do in the future. The third and very important thing is TIME. My life at AUIS seemed crazy for many of my colleagues. I was engaged in several extra-curricular activities simultaneously. Many of my friends thought that I had no life, but only my very close friends could understand I was busy but also super happy. I was able to manage my time and balance my life very well. It is also crucial to know that the time management skill will live with you for the rest of your life. For example, after you graduate and are hired for your dream job, you need to balance your work and life effectively. Every day I hear the words “balancing life and time management” wherever I am. Based on my experience, you need to develop that skill as soon as possible and not wait until after graduation. I have some friends and colleagues who are facing big challenges with their work due to lack of life-work balancing and time-management skills. So, develop that skill now and the future will be much easier for whatever job you take. Lastly, like Leonardo DiCaprio once said, “When you wake up in the morning, you have two choices…go back to sleep and dream your dreams or wake up and chase those dreams.” I hope you wake up and go after your dreams. I wish every AUIS student a great future and would like to again remind you that AUIS Makes Impossible, Possible!
Ava Vana Amein, writes comprehensively about four successful AUIS students who want to be the change in the Iraqi region. Read more here.
Four years ago when I graduated from high school, I applied to many universities in Iraq and abroad. I remember being so hesitant about deciding where to go. I also wanted to experience living away from home in a different city and making new friends other than knowing my family’s friends in Erbil. After some weeks, I remember receiving a text from AUIS saying I was accepted. It was late at night, and I ran to my dad excitedly with the news. It was obvious by then that my choice would be AUIS, and I have never regretted that. At AUIS, I did not only learn about international studies theories, Plato’s Republic, economics, world history, physics or journalism; I also had the chance to practice them through internships and activities on campus. AUIS strikes a good balance between theory and practice. AUIS is truly unique in a sense there is always so much going on at campus. There is always an interesting guest lecture, an event organized by a student club, a debate, a match, and all of these helped me grow and opened up so many doors. My best times at AUIS were spent taking part in the activities by the student clubs, especially the AUIS student newspaper,Voice. I enjoyed the bittersweet moments and the teamwork while publishing the newspaper. I learned to network and make connections at AUIS. My internship experiences during the last four years with the Iraq Oil Report publication, General Consulate of the Republic of Turkey in Erbil, Development Iraq, International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Institute of Regional & International Studies (IRIS) were arranged through AUIS. You always find an AUIS staff member, professor, administrator, or alumnus ready to help - whether it is for a class or a job you need to find, or a personal problem. It was at AUIS that I learned how to give to others, without expecting to receive anything back, especially through volunteer work. And I am proud to say that AUIS taught me the true meaning of citizenship and how to engage with my society. At the same time, just like any other American liberal arts institution, it prepared me to be a global citizen where I can understand the complexity of issues in the world as well. It was also because of the education I received in AUIS that I could go to the oldest graduate school of international relations in the United States. Today as I sit in the class, I can make arguments and contribute to the discussions just like any other graduate student. AUIS prepared me well in those four years for graduate school in the United States because of its liberal arts style education. Are you an AUIS alumnus? Do you want to share your share your AUIS journey too? Send it to email@example.com along with one or more good resolution photos. It shouldn’t be more than 500 words, and the email message should be clearly labeled ‘AUIS Alumni Stories’. We would love to hear from you!