Clueless what’s next?

You are about to hear a story.

Life has been good to me always. I was able to secure good scores at the competitive exams most of the time and I was privileged to enter into a prestigious university in Sri Lanka. Indeed I worked hard for it, but sort of always went with the flow. During the 3rd academic year at the university, the internship happened, we had to choose a company we would like to work for, the role we would like to take up and so on. That is where the choices of career came in.

Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

Every option available seemed interesting, and I got through a couple of interviews as well. It was entirely up to me to decide whether I am going to work at the industry or doing an internship at a research lab. Feeling so lost in the myriad of choices, I talked with seniors, lecturers and even with friends for advice. They shared their thoughts but at the end of the day, I had to make the decision for myself right?

I didn’t have much time to think about it because of the deadlines and went with the company that firstly approached with an internship offer, hoping for the best. The internship turned out to be so good and was a good learning curve. I thought “for now everything does seem fine, but what’s next?”

In the meantime, I started volunteering at the Sustainable Education Foundation. While working with the University Student Representatives at SEF, my colleague asked me “Why don’t you apply for ScholarX?”. I was a bit hesitant at first to apply, but he pushed me to apply saying “Trust me it will be a good experience!”. Fast forward after two months into the program, I am truly glad that I applied.

For anyone who might be wondering what is ScholarX, it is a 6-month program run by the Sustainable Education Foundation for Sri-Lankan undergraduates who would like to get free premium mentoring during their study period. The applicants will be matched with a mentor of their preference who is an expert and outstanding talent from around the world in both Industry and Academia. For more details, you can head on to their website. I am truly thankful to Sustainable Education Foundation, for helping many clueless undergraduates like me, to achieve better in life.

The process of applying for ScholarX is rewarding. Why I say so is, while applying I got to reflect on my achievements, my goals, and my hopes for life. Often we feel we are not good enough, I also did felt the same. Afterwards, when I got the e-mail saying that I got a match, I was in heaven. It gave me joy that I am good enough to be paired with my first choice of a mentor!

Let me tell you about my mentor as well. She is Dulshani Gunawardana, a Master’s student at the London School of Economics and Political Science who has 4 years of industry experience working at Facebook. Her areas of expertise are computational social sciences, data science and machine learning. She uses computational methods to study political and social phenomena. (So cool, right!)

I am truly glad that I was matched with her because she has experienced both worlds, the industry and academia. During the first session, I was able to tell her about my goals and all my dilemmas. She said that she has gone through it all and once has felt the same, that’s when I realized it’s human nature! And it’s always good to have someone you can look up to! During the first meeting, we came up with a plan to get armed up with the skills I should have to suit into both industry and academia, by the time I graduate. More about it in the coming posts! Stay tuned!

If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.

- J Loren Norris