How I Unexpectedly Found My Passion

It’s true that inspiration comes from anywhere. Taylor’s Alumni, Ali Najah writes what sparked his passion in life.

I used to work as a dental assistant at the largest hospital in Maldives: IGMH. I joined IGMH right after A Level because my MOM wanted me to become a doctor (typical Asian moms). So I decided to test the waters before I actually went into the sea, i.e. pre-med.

On the day of the interview, I went in knowing full well that I’ll obviously not get selected since they wanted candidates who had a science background, if not first-hand experience in the field. I wondered why they wanted to interview me in the first place, since I was a business student. But to my absolute surprise not only did I get invited, I also got selected from the first round of interviews. Imagine how good my interview went. Nailed it!

On the first day at work I wanted to give up as I’d no idea what the trainer was talking about — all these forceps and syringes with different types of medicine, which she assumed I knew. That's when the imposter syndrome hit. There I was, nodding to everything she was saying because I didn't want her to think I was dumb — or worse a fraud!

Within the first week I told my brother that I was gonna quit, but my brother convinced me to stay for another week, so I did. Then came payday and I was AMAZED by how much I earned in such a little amount of time. God bless the Maldivian healthcare industry. 

So that’s what they mean by ‘Financial Motives’. Then, A Level business knowledge hit me.

Driven by my pay cheque, I told myself that if I really needed to stay in the game long enough to learn it, then I had to blend in with the team.

This meant that I’d to learn the name of every forcep dentists use, which syringes contained what medicine, and the effects of the medicine. All this on top of the daily dental routine and patient care. Early on I learned that most of my colleagues had 2 or 3 tasks which contained administrative work, which was so much better than being a dental assistant, I thought.

And so I continued to do my ‘job’. I was thrilled to be finally financially independent. A couple of months went by. Even though I was a bit behind my colleagues, I was learning new things every day which fueled my curiosity. Then, on a mundane day at work, I noticed a particular behaviour from a colleague which would change the course of my life. I was assisting a doctor with another dental assistant, and noticed how much they actually CARED about what happened to the patient.

The way she greeted the patient, the way she talked and took care of the patient, all while perfectly assisting the doctor to carry on the procedure. Everything about it screamed ENTHUSIASM, and there I was watching her in amazement. For her it wasn’t just a job, it was an opportunity. An opportunity to take care of another human being, which she welcomed with open arms. This incident made me question my own passion towards what I was doing and rethink my profession.

Is this what I really want to do? Should I force myself to show such passion towards what I was doing?

So I knew I needed a career change and began my research about alternative career options. I sought career guidance, first online and then called a bunch of education institutions to see if they had a career guidance counselor. This made me realise how much we lacked such professionals in our country and wondered that there could be hundreds if not thousands of people who so desperately needed career guidance. I even took a million career guidance quizzes online and different tests which told me to be different things so I knew that I couldn’t let them determine what I was going to be for the rest of my life. I kept searching until one day I finally realised what it was.

It was a typical day at work, I finished my morning shift and was taking a lunch break before the afternoon doctor came. I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a sponsored ad for sunglasses from a shop in Malé which reminded me that I was searching for shops selling sunglasses on Google the day before.

I went into a deep rabbit hole of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and Google, Facebook, Instagram Ads to learn how these platforms have algorithms which help in customer segmentation and targeting. Each day at lunch break, I’d research about different kinds of marketing techniques used by top companies and was absolutely STAGGERED by how little I knew about these, even though I scored decent grades in my A Level business subject.

After a while, I started noticing the phrase ‘Digital Marketing’ appearing in a lot of articles and videos and realised that it is where my passion lies.

Today, I’m a small business owner, a business graduate specialising in International Business & Marketing, a tutor, an aspiring digital marketer, and freelancer. I look back on how much I’ve evolved over the past few years, what I went through, what I persevered, and where passion and drive took me. So my advice to you, my fellow Taylorian, is to try out different things, break out of the little cell society is trying to put you in, and let passion be the driving factor so you can see yourself flourish and become the best version of YOU.

Ali Najah is Taylor's University's alumni, who pursued a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and Marketing (Honours). He is a Board member of the Media & Design department at Taylor's Muslim Student Association (MSA). He is also a writer and photographer at Taylor's Etc Magazine.

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