Journey from Scholar to Young Professional
Matamando is an Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) Graduate from Malawi who completed his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering in the Netherlands. The following is his reflection on his AAI journey.
In August 2017, I found myself beginning a new phase in my life, as an international student. At the time, I had no idea what implications the decision to move would have, or even what it would mean to live in a different culture. All I knew was I was on a journey to better myself.
In September 2017, I was officially a student in the Netherlands at the University of Twente. My undergraduate experience proved to be challenging and rewarding at the same time. The culture shock, the difficulty of classes, and the high standard I set for myself were powerful ways to learn more about myself, how to adapt, and how to navigate high-pressure environments.
I passed my first year, and at this point, I realized hard work was my most significant advantage. I then pushed through the rest of my study program. Each challenging experience increased my confidence and improved my problem-solving skills.
Upon completing my thesis and bachelor’s degree, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, but I also felt lost. After taking a one month break, I started applying for jobs. It took me 50 applications and five first-round interviews before I got one call for a second-round consultation that later turned into a job offer.
My job-hunting process taught me the meaning of perseverance, discipline, and the importance of maintaining a growth mindset. With every new application and interview, I learned new things and kept improving my skills accordingly, which eventually paid off. I realized that companies look for more than just the right set of skills; they also seek the right mindset and a person with good character.
In hindsight, the time I spent in the Uganda Kokoro-juku significantly impacted my job search. The interviewing skills and tips have been the same that I’ve honed at university. Small steps, like looking through a company’s vision and mission statement, allowed me to build rapport with the interviewers. Furthermore, the critical thinking classes, where I was taught to think from multiple perspectives, helped me write more appealing motivational letters.
I started my job two months ago as a Junior PDK (Process Design Kit) Engineer. In this role, I work on designing the circuit components used to produce computer chips. My work entails coding, developing solutions, and integrated circuits design. I am determined to continue building my engineering skills and grow as a person.
As a young leader, I envision myself sponsoring bright Malawian youth to have access to quality education. In this way, I could contribute to the betterment of the people around me. I’m still uncertain about the exact timeline for these activities. However, my job will help me acquire the funds necessary to make these activities possible.
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