He refused to take a tuition loan and now works for Google!

By Ameen at Seera Masters | Student Life

Listen to audio version: on iTunes or stream below.

He did it!

Instead of taking a £27,000 loan, he rejected it and paid the tuition fees by building a business himself!

You might be in his position, at university, looking towards a very cloudy future. Just like Ismail, you have choices, you can go with the flow and see what just happens or you can do all in your power to design the outcome.

In this clip I personally interviewed Ismail about his story for a series called Above The Mark. His journey is definitely one of a true Seera Master, he designed his lifestyle to meet his dunya and akhira goals.

Check out the interview:

Ismail built his business, Satifs which funded his education and opened up all kinds of opportunities for him now that he has graduated. I’m sure it was because of his entrepreneurial and proactive spirit that Google (now Alphabet) recently offered him a position!

The main points I took away from this exciting encounter with Ismail were:

  • Think outside the box, always – Taking a tuition fee loan was normal when the cost was 3,000/year so it didn’t make much different when that tripled. However, for Ismail norms should be questioned and that’s exactly what he did. When we start to question norms a question mark forms in our head and we start to discover solutions almost by accident! By accepting all norms our brain never begins to look for alternative routes.
  • Be principled – Ismail had decided that it was outside of his values to get into debt. He stood by this even when borrowing was the norm and there was immense pressure to follow the secure route of University – Degree – Work. Being principled, especially in these times, might often mean that you seem strange. However, this is also what will differentiate you from the masses and ultimately attract the right employers, friends, investors, spouses. Embrace your principles, embrace your weirdness!
  • Be proactive – It’s true, it is the easier route to talk about our challenges and seek solutions from others, the government, friends, teachers and family. However, when we become the few that take it upon themselves to make things happen, amazing results often follow. Ismail could have huffed and puffed about high tuition fees but instead he cooked up a plan to pay his tuition fees without needing a loan and built a business while he was at it, not bad!
  • Re-think education – When deciding on the route we take, before, during and after university it’s important to think of why we want to be educated and how we go about that. Is it for a job? Is it to be more cultured? Do we see education as a way of making a living or is it something we should continue far after university in order to constantly improve ourselves?

In the same spirit of university, careers and the future I have another story to share.

This time I speak to Achille who tells me about how he came to the UK from Senegal and got things popping straight away! I find out how you too can get an advantage in your future career through planning and modelling.

Check out the interview here:

The main points I took away from my conversation with Ash were:

  • Have a plan – I used to be all about 5, 10 and 20 year goals but I’ve changed my mind more recently. I now believe firmly in having 3-12 month goals as well as a general direction. This helps when your path can change suddenly, it will stop you being unable to adapt. In Ash’s case he knew he wanted to get into IT and he studied for that as a general direction, however, now he’s happily moved into project management.
  • Use the tools – We first must identify the tools (they are more than just education). Contacts, experience and mentors are tools too. Each person’s tools will differ according to their path. If we do go to university it’s a great opportunity to gain as many tools as possible while there. Make contacts, try out different hobbies/experiences through different uni societies (eg. public speaking, debating, flippin gardening). I often feel like more than half the benefit of university is found outside the lectures, essays and certificates.
  • Don’t dilute yourself – Similar to what Ismail said about principles, Ash firmly believed that by being different he was contributing to the workplace by bringing his different culture, religion (he’s Muslim :D), vibe. Don’t go in there thinking you need to conform to absolutely everything, they can learn from you just how you can (and should) learn from them!

These 2 examples of Seera Master type thinking get me so excited! I’ve always loved to teach through examples and model those that have acheived before me. These 2 are examples for us all to take lessons from and implement them to our specific circumstances.

PS. Remember to check out the series Above The Mark, showcasing Muslims accomplishing big things!

Let me know: which lesson did you take from these 2 conversations and how do you think you can apply it? Comment below


About the Author

Founder of Seera Masters, a blog that helps Muslims design their mindset and lifestyle to reach their goals. Massively passionate about Quran, travelling, technology and life-long learning!