In Interview with Sameen Zaki – Career Expert

In Interview with Sameen Zaki – Career Expert

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“Believe in yourself, build up yourself and remember that your time to shine will come. You just have a different journey than others.”

Sameen Zaki

Hi Sameen, today we would like you to give our community a glimpse into your work as Human Development Professional with 8+ years of diversified experience in career development of students and professionals.

Happy to have you here.

Maybe at first, can you give us a short introduction about you?

Sameen: I am a purpose driven, career oriented individual who found her calling a decade ago. Having my vision for tomorrow, I have always been interested to carve out the unidentified paths of my career. Coming from a very humble background of Home Economics with specialization in Human Development & Family Studies, living in a conservative Asian culture, I was always faced with perceptions of knowing the art within homes and not outside. This intrigued me to find more about the vocational aspirations of my classmates back in my undergraduate years and refining my work, I found myself to become a person having a focused interest in career development of individuals, especially women. I am proud mother of two beautiful daughters who have given me a new definition to my life. I have worked in academia from the beginning of my career alongside coaching individuals for their career related concerns.

What have you done before you become an expert?

Sameen: Never in my life do I remember that I ever stopped learning. I took every opportunity to learn, work, achieve, make my mark, and learn from my mistakes. The key formula is to keep enhancing one’s skill set as far as possible, as continuous as possible. I have always tried to see things proactively and strategically in my life. I was not born like this, I learnt because I observed. I learnt because I wanted to grow.

How did you become a career expert and what is your expertise?

Sameen: Practice is the only key to become an expert at what you do. When I connect the dots backwards, I feel satisfied to have taken a decision of choosing the road less traveled. During my post-graduation, I just worked in my field of research with complete passion and I was literally picked up by my first boss to work at a domain that was not advertised but a complete fit for what I aspire my career for. My expertise is in Career Counseling and Guidance. I have attended numerous workshops and seminars regarding this and I am heading towards some international certifications quite soon.

To get even deeper: What makes you unique as a professional?

Sameen: I have developed versatility in my profile by trying out what interested me and what I enjoyed working. What makes me unique is my fearless and inquisitive nature. Alongside counseling 3000+ individuals for their careers and helping in job placements of 1500+ graduates in past couple of years, I have hosted many events of different nature in my native Urdu language and others in English language. I have taken up different projects ranging from creatively creating content for the annual prospectus, website, annual reports and much more at the university I am employed at. I have organized large events of 1000+ audience. I happen to develop a huge network of global professionals across the world. I am currently having a community of 193000+ followers on LinkedIn and 23,000+ connections. Having an active audience of this level and helping others selflessly is what keeps me contented.

Sounds awesome. So, why do you like to work in the field of coaching and what inspires you?

Sameen: I am attached with the field of Career Counseling & Guidance since around 15 years now if I count in the years of my graduation. It all came to me while I faced a lack of career guidance as I was stepping out after completing my college years. I used to read a lot both national and international practices and perspectives. Human psychology has always attracted my attention. Perhaps it is because ever since my childhood, I used to think of the root-causes of things and incidents. I used to look beyond the surface level. Anyone in my close circle who used to behave differently than others or norms of society, used to catch my attention. This led me to choose my majors to study human development. Walking through the journey of various developments in life, career development was the one where I paused and picked it up. The satisfaction through work and feeling of contribution acts as a nucleus of career development. Helping others to find their career paths, making the right decisions in the workplace and in life is all what inspires me the most. Careers make up the largest part of our lives.

With your background, what else are you passionate about outside of work?

Sameen: I am passionate about creating a greater impact and leaving a higher legacy by initiating a state level policy of having career development as a basic right of every individual of my country Pakistan. If people get to know what to do in life and how to do it, it can create a huge impact in the lives of individuals leading to more amazing inventions. I am passionate about building professional relationships and having a tribe of my own since I am a great believer of having life in relations. Last but not the least, I am a great believer of “Law of Attraction”. My newly found interests include the financial literacy & inclusion for women within Pakistan.

How do you motivate yourself in weak moments? Do you have a personal mantra that helps you to become the best version of yourself?

Sameen: We all have our weak moments, some very weak moments. First step is to accept this fact that we are humans and letting go should be the part of our lives. I learnt it the hard way. I learnt about humor quite late in my life. I have been a serious kid. Trust me; humor is the most serious subject to be taught and practiced.

Some of us are too hard on ourselves because we assume that letting go will let go our worth but that is not the case. In my weakest of moments, I have tried to write down my agitation, speak to a friend who understands and at most, stop over-thinking, get myself engaged in tasks to divert my attention and last but not the least, seek the psychological help. There should not be any taboo attached with seeking a psychological help in our life whenever we feel like. It is just loving yourself when we care about our own physical, mental and social well-being. I highly recommend that.

My personal mantra is to enjoy the present moments and keep hoping for the better days, when in despair. Since I read a lot of self-help books, they have taught me to live in the moment before it vanishes away like a bubble. We all need to remind this to ourselves every other day.

Let’s learn a bit about your work. What type of projects have you worked on and what is the project you are most proud of?

Sameen: I have worked on content creation, public relations, counseling & guidance, hosting, speaking at events, facilitating workshops and panel discussions, community service and community building initiatives.

In my professionally employed career, I am proud of conducting historical events in the institute I work at including but not limited to careers fair, alumni gatherings, curriculum development workshops, developing a plan for center for civics and integrity of individuals.

My newly defined role within academics has provided me an opportunity to develop new and efficient systems for classes’ coordination and other student affairs.

Did you have any step-backs in your career? How did you overcome them?

Sameen: Well, yes. I resigned from my fine and on-going contractual job due to immense feelings of inadequacy, bleak career progression and motherhood challenges. I was truly helped by my then boss. You won’t believe that my resign was not accepted due to the fact that I had lot of contributions I got the chance to make and for the potential I have. Dealing with motherhood challenges while being a working mom, I started a community building initiative for all working moms across the globe.

What are your career goals?

Sameen: To become a sought-after career counselor from my region of origin and impacting globally as well.

What was the funniest / unusual moment in your career?

Sameen: (laughing) This reminds me of the incident where I once scolded a student for not wearing a uniform. University students do not wear a uniform, they attend classes in usual outfits. I used to be an examiner at a college where students wear uniform. I mixed up both and messed up one day after getting back to my workplace the day I took the exam in the college. I still laugh at my pre-occupied mind and spontaneous reaction.

Which three steps / ways do you think lead to success?

Sameen: Continuous improvement. Humility and Politeness. Working hard or smart is your choice. The former three are inevitable.

What is your favorite motto?

Sameen: “Let people love you and not fear you”

I summed that up from a recent webinar and it touched my heart, summing up my beliefs from all these years.

“Life is in relations”

That’s the quote from my legendary professor. I have tied it with my life ever since he said it.

“Believe in yourself, build up yourself and remember that your time to shine will come. You just have a different journey than others.”

“Excellence is achievable, perfection is not”

Thanks so much for your time, Sameen. We wish you good luck with your upcoming projects, but before I’ll let you be creative again:

Do you have any tips / recommendations for the next generation of remote-workers?

Sameen: Find your side gig as soon as possible. I have seen youngsters do a lot during their graduation years before they even graduate. I have seen their side gigs becoming their full time businesses and mature over the period of several years. Learn a new skill every six months or less. Practice it. Connect globally. Have the flavor of world to know yourself and your country better.

Learn more about Sameen on her ExpertMap Profile

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