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MI student lands full-time job despite pandemic

Submitted on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Nafiz, shown here with his wife, thought that returning to school to do a Master’s degree would, among other things, help him understand Canada better.

When MD Nafizuzzaman started applying for jobs at the beginning of March, the hiring situation was still fairly normal. The Master of Information student had a few initial calls with prospective employers before hiring was mostly frozen due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Luckily for Nafiz, however, there were still some exceptions. Despite the pandemic, he managed to land a full-time contract position without ever meeting any of his new colleagues in person.

A co-op student in the Knowledge Management and Information Management concentration, Nafiz also took several courses in the User Experience Design and Information Systems Design concentrations, which he felt prepared him well for the job-hunting process. “I felt like I could provide the 360 degree answers they wanted,” he says. “Every course that I did, whether it was in my concentration or not, has been a great source of learning and knowledge for me.”

Over a four-week period, Nafiz did five online interviews with Post Consumer Brands — maker of Grape Nuts and Frosted Mini Wheats among many other cereals. His interviewers were located all around the world. Thanks to the experience he gained using Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom during the last classes of the winter semester, he was confident, if somewhat nervous, about presenting online as part of the process.  Eventually, he was offered the job a sales strategist for international business.

In his new role, Nafiz will spend about half his time dealing with information systems and integration of data and the other half looking to increase sales in coordination with sales team members in different countries. He will draw on his extensive sales and marketing experience, acquired over almost a decade working in his native Bangladesh, where he also earned an undergrad degree in finance and international business.

“I’ll be able to apply almost everything I’ve learned at the Faculty of Information,” he says, adding that, as a newcomer and immigrant to Canada in 2018, he especially valued his co-op preparation course, which introduced him to Canadian business culture, and his placement at the McCarthy Tétrault law firm, where, among other things, he got to work with some of the firm’s Information system solution providers.

Nafiz, who moved to Canada with his wife and young son, chose to study at the Faculty of Information for two main reasons. “I needed to train myself for the new horizon of data and information, which was something I couldn’t learn on the job,” he says. “And what better way to become Canadian?”

When applying for his new job, he emphasized both his newly acquired information system knowledge and experience as well as his background in sales. Evidently, he did a good job selling himself. The official offer came through in early May. As he embarks on his new job, Nafiz still has one course to go until graduation. He will complete it this summer while working.

Nafiz’s first day of work was virtual and things will stay that way until policies change. His work laptop was shipped to him and set up with the company’s IT team. “It’s a unique experience” both for him and his employers, he says, adding that he expects the pandemic to be a catalyst for digital transformation.

Nafiz advises fellow job hunters at the Faculty of Information to stick with it. “Even I was depressed two weeks back but there are still companies hiring. They are creating a lot of roles for people who are tech savvy because of this COVID-19 situation. I would encourage fellow students to keep applying and trying.”