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Entering ‘The Real World’ During a Pandemic

SWE Global Ambassador Preethi Karpoor shares some tips and advice to new and recent graduates on how to move forward with optimism despite the strange circumstances of COVID-19.
Entering ‘the Real World’ During A Pandemic

“Entering ‘The Real World’ During a Pandemic : A Story of How I learned to Stand Up for Myself” was written by SWE Global Ambassador Preethi Karpoor.

2020 was one of the hardest challenges that humankind has ever had the ‘privilege’ of facing. People lost their jobs, their social connections, and even their lives. But it was also a year of self-discovery. It was a year of gratitude, self reflection, perseverance and most importantly—self growth.

That sounded like an excerpt from a self-help book, didn’t it? But it was an honest statement that is important, because most of us are are still living within the circumstances and restrictions of this pandemic. As we walk into the fresh rays of hope 2021 ushers, these aphorisms have been of utmost priority for me and countless students across the globe—especially those who wore their graduation robes and posed for photos in their living rooms, those who saw their classmates one last time on Zoom, those who started their next phases of life without even knowing where they are headed—and those some of us who could do nothing that I described all along in this utterly long sentence!

The world has been anything but a bed of roses for all those who had dreams of flinging their graduation hats up into the air in the last 12 months. However, as somebody who ‘became’ an engineer myself in these tumultuous times, it is of paramount gravity that we take a moment to cogitate upon the power of having a vision for yourself and that you champion the cause in the most efficacious way. For it is indeed very easy to pine on something by terming it harsh, hard or impossible to achieve. But the real justification for all the efforts you have put in is when you choose to make a change. After all, isn’t that what most of us have learnt through our journeys in engineering school?

It may all sound very rhetorical and generic when someone else puts forth advice and milestones for us. Yet, this is where we, as engineers and students moving forward on our path and changing the world as we traverse through, must use these to channel our maximum potential. Here are six lessons that I ingrained and imbibed in myself as I graduated right in the middle of this whole pandemic—all while fighting through COVID!

1. Be patient

While the world around you may believe staunchly in the concept of hightailing, you must have patience! The world is reeling under tremendous distress, it is only meaningful that you wait for what you deserve.

2. Never compromise

Repeat after me – “I deserve it! I have earned it!” Never compromise no matter what factors are dictating you. You have given it your everything so it’s time you reap the fruits of what you have sown. Remember, the difficult circumstances of this pandemic are not a devaluation of your worth!

3. Aim high and persevere

Always aim for the stars. If nothing, you’ll at least reach the moon. Aim for the best and work towards it. Persevere until you get it. Nothing is ever impossible with the right dedication.

4. Have a clear vision

It is like when you are solving a problem in theoretical physics. Know your prowess, know your destination and find the optimal route to reach it. Do not let anything or anyone derail you or talk you down. Like Lord Tennyson said: “For men may come and men may go, but I go on forever.” For the longest time to come, it is only you and your journey towards your goals that will power and empower you.

5. Develop a community

Network like there is no tomorrow! Invest in people who will help you grow. One may not realize it at all times, but there are countless others who are experiencing the same ordeal as you. Build a community—it is only honorable and generous.

6. Be kind to yourself

Make yourself a priority—your physical, mental and emotional well being should always be number one. Nothing comes above that. Be mindful of yourself because today may be grim, but as graduating professionals, you have a very long way to go. Keep that flame burning.

In all, try not to forget—you are a rockstar! To all who have been etched in the annals of history as ‘Pandemic Graduates’ – Congratulations! You did a lot better than a lot of people in the last 100 years or so. Do not let anything bog you down. May we soar towards being change makers for eons to come.

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  • Preethi Karpoor

    Preethi R. Karpoor is a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate from Bengaluru, India. She is a FY21 Global Ambassador for SWE and the Co-Lead for the SWE Content Curation Working Group. With her primary area of interest being research in instrumentation for experimental physics, she is also passionate about advocacy for Girls in STEM and enjoys writing.