Sunday, 24 January 2016

Episode B: Biosciences and Banking

As far back as I can remember, the one thing that was repeated constantly in my childhood was "I don't care what you do, just make sure you go to university and graduate". 

Welcome back to Episode B of my A-Z series - Biosciences and Banking. 

My siblings are first generation British and neither of my parents went to university. They saw close and distant family members did just that and saw the opportunities that came to them as a result of attending. That combined with Tiger Mum lifestyle and it comes as no surprise that education was high priority in the household. 

Amy Chua famously wrote the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", a book that detailed the upbringing of her children,  which in turn was highly criticised by highly acclaimed people. I remember reading it a few years back and distinctly remember relating the contents. No sleepovers. Nothing lower than an A is acceptable. No drama. No creative arts for GCSE. But I don't have any regrets from this. It was the only lifestyle I knew and even when I learnt any different, I would still go back to Tiger Mum method without hesitation.


It disciplined me. Waking up when it's still dark to do mathematics before I even had the chance to eat breakfast made me aware of how much time in the day there is if I woke up just 30m earlier. Taking 11 GCSEs taught me time keeping and multi tasking especially when my options where Geography, History, French and Business Studies. Hockey at school was a major passion of mine - I made it to captain of the school team and I refused to give this up - I fought to continue playing all throughout school which in turn taught me to stand up for what I truly believed in. I passed my GCSEs with flying colours. And then the next 2 years would determine the rest of my life.

From an early age, I always wanted to go boarding school. I'm not entirely sure what sparked this passion but I'm nudging a guess at the Enid Blyton books I read while growing up. So when the opportunity to enter a boarding school on scholarship arose between 16-18 years of age, I took it without a moment's hesitation despite disappointment from my parents who would rather me attend my brother's highly rated school in London.

Two years of studying A-Level Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics made me a dull person both inside and out. I learnt rather early on that these were not my forte but it was far too late to drop out now. I struggled with learning the subjects wishing wholeheartedly I chose the humanities. I carried on, passed and went to university to study Biosciences because it was a degree my parents would be satisfied with. They could not see a future in English, History or Geography - but sciences? Yes, absolutely - because to them, sciences meant guaranteed job at the end of my degree. I hasten to add, this was in the time of recession in the UK when jobs were going scarce and every ounce of education mattered to everyone. Regardless, I went onto University to study Biosciences - effectively the same as pre-med. I think my 3 year course practically mirrors what medical students study in their preliminary three years. I had the option of going into fourth year medicine with the medical school linked to the university, but I had had enough. Sciences felt like it wiped out a fair few brain cells of mine, and I was ready to leave and face the big wide world of work. Plus, I wanted to start earning my own money and not land myself in more student debt when tuition fees had just gone up to £9k per year.

Straight out of university, I honestly felt lost. I didn't know what to do with myself. There I was, a fresh graduate, degree in hand. Surely the world needed someone like me somewhere? I returned back to a summer job of mine for the summer, and then decided to start looking for work later on. Summer job finished and I became unemployed again. Found another seasonal job, this time selling Christmas trees - yup, Christmas trees! Everyone's got a novelty job on their CV somewhere right - which lasted me from October to February the following year. After what felt like eternity and completely soul destroying, I found my first full time job in an estate agents down Notting Hill of which I stayed there for a few months before I got a phone call inviting me for an interview to join a bank. Went along to the interview at 12pm and by the time it was 6pm, I heard I had already got the job.

Did I ever think I'd go from studying Sciences to Banking? Nope. Did I ever think I end up in banking one form or another? Absolutely not. And did I grow up wanting to work in a bank? Not particularly. But I believe everything happens for a reason. Opportunities are created if you have the passion to keep going. So if you find yourself in the same position as myself feeling that you studied the wrong subject, or landed up in the wrong career - don't worry. I couldn't be where I am today if I didn't stop believing, stop praying or stopped working hard. Remember what your end goal is and always keep it in sight.

Everything always works out in the end, and remember, if it hasn't worked out, it's not the end.

Graduation 2010 with my Dad
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