Career prospects have their beginnings at MIT

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Sadia Afrin is one of a kind.

While studying for the Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology at MIT, she was known by the staff as the student who would arrive before the Academic Centre opened and also the one who would be still studying after everyone else had gone home.

“I went there at 6.45 in the morning and I wouldn’t be able to get through the doors because I wouldn’t have access till 7.30.

So one of the teachers who came early would let me in.

“They would smile at me or say something nice and so my day would start with something nice. Things like that  made a huge difference for me and made the journey at MIT awesome,” said the 23-year-old who was born and educated to high school level in Bangladesh before moving to this country after getting married.

Punctual and efficient

Afrin’s lecturer, Dr Reza Shahamiri of MIT’s School of Digital Technologies calls her, ‘one of the best students I have trained in my career.’

“Every time I gave her an exercise, she managed to complete it in such a professional way that you only expect from good, experienced software engineers. She was completely dedicated and focused on the tasks in front of her. She inspired me in many ways too. I even learned from her and used one of her designs in one of my own projects. Sadia is a perfect example how amazing women are as IT professionals.”

But it didn’t start out that way. When Afrin signed on for the degree programme the only goal was to pass.

Her study options were limited by the fact other providers didn’t recognise the education she had received in Bangladesh and the bridging courses that would have got her into university were either too expensive or quite basic.

“I did my research. My mother-in law said wonderful things about MIT and so I applied. I had no aim. I didn’t know what I was doing. When I was young, I was good with computers. Although my true passion was psychology, I had to get practical, I needed a job. So I thought why not IT?” Sadia said.

Supporting learners

Manukau Institute of Technology’s School of Business and IT prides itself on supporting all its learners to achieve their ambitions.

It works closely with industry to design qualifications that teach the practical skills looked for in potential employees.

While on work placements, students complete projects that allow them to find real world applications for what they have learned in class.

Sadia began working as a developer for Forsite, a company that provides information security and network solutions to the construction industry.

“I created something called the Attendance Page which is pretty much like a time sheet for the employees so you can see how many hours they have spent on what site and go into the details.”

It led on to her current position with Vista Entertainment Solutions, an international company that designs software products in half of the world’s cinemas offering services including seat management, food, beverage and kiosk support.

Impressive credentials

“She had a very impressive CV. It stood out in a crowd. We get a lot of CVs, most are three or four pages. But Sadia had made a brochure that looked like a sales ad, but it did the job,” says her team leader at Vista, Donnel Cyril.

“You can leave her with a task to do on her own and check in from time to time. I really enjoy that. She communicates her ideas clearly with the team,” he said.

Graduation will see hundreds cross the stage to receive qualifications for everything from nursing, social work, early childhood education, creative arts, business and information technology.

It’s something the top student has been getting excited about for months.

“It was a lot of work. MIT pushed me to do it. Truly I wouldn’t have done the amount of work I did without the teachers being the way they are. They truly pushed me to give my best. I did my first assignment. The teachers picked up on the potential I had, and their support, encouragement and appreciation made me go the extra mile. I looked forward to going to MIT not because I had to study all day long but because of the love I received.”

Prosperous Career

“I really wish her a prosperous career. I’m very confident with her professionalism, dedication, and her amazing attitude she is a great asset for our Information Technology industry and will make significant contributions to New Zealand,” Dr Shahamiri said.

So what’s next? Well, Sadia Afrin would like to go on to do an MBA and found her own real estate start up with even talk of starting at scholarship for international students to help them juggle the demands of work and study.

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