Friday, 30 May 2014

Surviving Engineering Degree!

It is actually a long due post. When I first started Chemical Engineering, I was quite nervous like any other students. Then I started searching tips to pass this course on internet. That led me to this article, which actually motivated me a lot. At that time, I promised to write my own version of it once I graduate. Now, exactly a year after leaving University, I am fulfilling a promise I gave myself 5 years ago.

So many students ask me about Engineering life, mostly “How difficult it is?”, “Can you give me some hints how to pass it” and “What are the future prospects of this degree” are the very common questions students ask me. Here in this post, rather than saying do this and do that, I will mainly write about how I completed Engineering degree and what are the things I had to do to survive this course:

1. Managing time efficiently
University is not school anymore. You are responsible for managing your own time. At the start of the year, you will be given a yearly plan for all the courses. All you have to do is make your own plan one step ahead of a professor. Especially, in terms of coursework, do not procrastinate! You cannot leave anything for the last minute.

2. Team work
Since our first year, we were encouraged to work in a group. We had group in every lab session or problem based learning session because Engineering is all about group work. I actually found few people being uncomfortable working with opposite gender. In that case, I would worry.  There were so many times when I was the only girl in my group. Just be comfortable working in group. This is Engineering.

3. Increasing the network
When you are stuck, ask for help! More people you know, more help you get. Specially in my case, there were so many times when I was standing outside lecturer’s office just to clear some doubts. If you have a good friendship with your teacher and colleagues, they will happily explain you. Also, communicate well! You can’t stay in one corner and finish 4 years of Engineering degree. Communicate with others. Talk about academic or non-academic things. Get involved in societies. After all, its all about improving your interpersonal skills. 

4. Staying awake whole night 
There is always a room for improvement. There was not a single time in coursework when I was happy to submit or felt I had done everything. No deadline was enough for anything. So many times, me and my friends stayed up whole night to finish the coursework. Many times, I was still writing until final 10 minutes to submission deadline. At the end of the week, you are completely worn out but the important thing is, you should be able to say ‘I couldn’t have done anything better’. You shouldn’t regret. 

5.  Multitasking 
I don’t know about other countries but from where I graduated, students are piled up with coursework and exams all the time. Coursework from different subjects are due at the same time. You just have get used to it. It's hard to find happy Engineering students who has done everything on time. You are mostly running behind but work smart and remember, this is very common.

6. Making library my second home
I wrote library here because library was like my second home when I was at University. It totally depends on where you are more productive. The main thing about this point is, you have to have a strong work ethic. You have to read but not get bored. So, improve your reading habits. Most importantly, stay focused on your goal. 

7.  Teaching
Everyone knows teaching is the best way of learning. Whether it was me teaching my friends or my friends teaching me, we have found this method really effective way to improve our own knowledge. Mostly I found it an effective way of remembering in exams. So, when you are helping others, you are also helping yourself.

8. Attending every lecture
I never skipped any lecture until final year. Final year was filled with dissertation headache and there was a time when my dissertation appointment clashed with lectures and unfortunately, I had to skip some of them. Still, I suggest not to skip any of it. Even though you are yawning in the class, you are still picking up something and when you are revising it later, it is not totally stranger.

9. Attempt all past papers
There has been a time during my Engineering degree when I left out past papers due to shortage of time and exam was similar to past exams. Then I promised myself that I will never leave past paper out again but I think my teachers heard my promise and they never repeated that mistake.

10. Be independent 
I said earlier to be a team worker but now I am saying to be independent. What I mean here is, you cannot rely on others to do all your coursework. You can discuss in a group but at the end of the day, it’s your work and your degree. This point is especially applicable when you are doing dissertation. During this time, you are completely alone because everyone has different topic. If you are trained well to be independent, you will survive.

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher

My Review: 2/5

A sweet story about love and life! This book is about getting a second chance.

It is known that every girl has to have one unhappy love affair before she finally meets the right man and settles down and gets married. Virginia, a 27-year-old widow and a single mother of two children goes to Cornwall to recover from flu but instead, encounters with a man she fell in love 10 years ago. At 17, she was too vulnerable to fight for her first love and in distress, chooses a wrong person to marry. It is already too late before she realises her mistake but God give her second chance. This time, she is strong and doesn’t want to repeat that mistake.

The reason I am only giving 2 stars is because I thought an author spent too much time describing something, which is not relevant to the story. I found her writing style quite boring as well. Story is good but not memorable. Overall, it can be a good one for anyone who is looking for a quick read.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rich Dad Poor Dad

My Review: 4/5

Once I wrote an article about what I will teach my future children. One of the points was “I will tell them that managing money is more important than earning”. This book motivates towards exactly same philosophy- ‘It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep’.

Written by Robert T. Kiyosaki, this book is labelled as #1 personal finance book of all time. I totally agree with that. I actually found this book quite inspiring in terms of investing. I remember when I first started thinking about stepping into stock market and investment; I was really scared, just like Mr Kiyosaki has mentioned in the book: people’s life are forever controlled by two emotions: fear and greed. However, the truth is, as an author added 'often in the real world, it’s not the smart that get ahead, but the bold. People should learn to take risks, be bold, and let their genius convert that fear into power and brilliance'.

Rich people in the world become rich by being financially intelligent. The secret of being financially intelligent is ‘investment’. The book encourages you to invest in real estate but I would say, invest in your education first and then, real estate is obviously a powerful investment tool. The secret of investing in real estate is making profit as much as possible while buying. Most of the middle class people invest in mutual funds and get away with that because that has lower risk. Rich people in fact invest in higher risk because high risk means high return. Remember, its not a gamble. Only invest the sum that you can afford to lose. Here is the tip: Invest in the new company and sell it after 1 or 2 years because most of the start up don’t last more than 5 years. Don't be put off with failure or loss. It is there to make you stronger and smarter.

Another lesson from the book is to make sure you pay yourself first. What that means is, start your own business! When you have a job, you get your salary after the tax has been deducted but the good thing about doing business is, you pay all the business expenses first and the tax is deducted only from the profit. So, you might have seen rich people travelling in business class, staying in expensive hotel and travelling to different countries. That is because they include those expenses in business expenses that means they don’t pay tax in that. Smart huh? That’s called financially intelligent.

The interesting thing about the book is, it differentiates the meaning of liabilities and assets, which most people confuse (including me but not anymore). I will give you an example of both here. If you buy a house and live there and pay mortgage, that house of yours is not asset but liability because you are paying interest on it. However, if you rent that house, and that rent covers the mortgage and every expenses, and at the end of the month, you have at least small amount of that rent going into your pocket, that’s your assets.

Although I agree with most of the things an author has mentioned in the book, I actually found his book criticising the academic schools. It might not be the case but quite often, it came to me that an author in the name of his ‘Rich Dad’ empathised on the fact that the schools don't teach about finance and they are designed to produce good employees instead of employers. For me, I think you can only become good employer if you are a good employee. Also, education is important. The skills you get from the academic life plays vital role in making you understand ‘financial intelligence’.

So, the moral of the book is: Invest….... Invest ……. And invest !!