Shawal Atarid, ITMB student
by Shawal Atarid
Originating from the poorer suburbs of Punjab, the gadget-hungry culture of western countries had a big impression on me. This obsession grew when I was 7 years old and I acquired a Commodore 64. Me, the kid who once held a chalkboard slate. Abruptly I began to disassemble it, as I craved to discover what actually powered the machine. As time progressed, so did my hunger for technology. I began tutoring poorer families in Punjab about the basics of computing and how IT can positively impact their lives. Witnessing that poverty inspired me to pursue the lifelong aim of using IT to create a difference in developing countries.
It was not until I moved to the UK, where I studied A-level Business, that I realised that IT and Business share a correlation. Both these disciplines go hand-in-hand and if employed efficiently they can offer life-changing solutions. Because of this, for my degree I chose a course that covered Computing concepts such as programming but also focused on real-life business issues – for instance the economic crisis. I attended open days at Middlesex and Cambridge, yet I could not find a course that provided the perfect balance of IT and Business – until I stumbled upon ITMB.
Having previously not heard about ITMB I was initially hesitant until I was given a presentation about the degree at Queen Mary’s. This presentation introduced me to the vast career development opportunities that ITMB offered. This mix of computing and business immediately struck a chord with me and matched my career aspirations. I would regard choosing ITMB as one of my best decisions.
To start off, unlike other degrees we were given weekly ‘Guru Lectures’ by industry experts from leading organisations such as IBM, Shell and HP. These lectures offered a clear insight into the inner workings of influential companies and how we could start our careers in such organisations. In addition to this I was provided with a mentor who met with me to discuss any issues I had, whether they were careers questions or academic concerns, it was nice to have a personal advisor alongside support from the ITMB community.
From an academic perspective, ITMB substantially exceeded my expectations. The course covered programming aspects from Computer Science, meaning that I was learning Java within my first week – something I really enjoyed. At the same time, I was introduced to Business Modelling and Accounting, thus offering me a dose of the challenges that the world’s economies faced – and their implications. I created websites via HTML and CSS and developed databases using SQL to pursuing various business projects. ITMB truly gave me more than I could have ever expected.
But perhaps the one thing that truly sets ITMB apart from other courses are the North and South events. Having the unique privilege to network with some of the world’s biggest employers while competing with other universities has been a highlight for me. In my first year, my team and I had to create a technology concept for the ‘Classroom of the future’ and had to present this to employers at the event. The encouragement and support that we received from our personal advisor along with the knowledge we absorbed in our modules led us to achieve third place. The following year our team achieved second place and I was awarded 2 spot prizes by PepsiCo and ISBAN for my contributions. I regard this to be one of my greatest accomplishments to date.
The knowledge and dexterities ITMB gave me ultimately led me to acquire a placement at Bank of England. I worked at the bank over the summer where I was responsible for setting up their Data Inventory, interacting with client organisations, leading meetings and pursued exciting projects such as biometric bank notes. During my placement, I realised how ITMB prepared me for real-world challenges such as how to lead meetings, most importantly, the ability to work effectively in a team. Now being in my third year, I am thrilled to be working on my dissertation along with applying for graduate schemes in the companies I have networked with at the ITMB events.
From studying the subject areas I adore most to obtaining consistent support from the ITMB community, this degree has pushed me to discover my strengths. It is safe to say, had it not been for ITMB; I would lack the confidence to present in front of large organisations or even write this story!
For me ITMB is much more than a degree, it is an enthralling experience; an experience that I would like every individual reading this to undertake. From enhancing my leadership abilities to making me a confident individual, I strongly believe that ITMB has prepared me with the skills needed to be able to achieve my lifelong goal of utilizing technology in developing countries. I hope to one day go back to Punjab and apply my learning to improve the lives of poverty stricken villages, and I thank ITMB for taking me one step closer to achieving this dream.
Watch Shawal’s video entry entry for the UCAS Love Learning 2015 Competition – An enthusiastic grain of rice