CAAD alumni cite self-motivation, learning from mistakes, as crucial to career development

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By Raneem Jaljouli

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Self-motivation is the key skill for any college graduate entering the real world, three alumni of American University of Sharjah’s College of Architecture, Art and Design concurred during an online panel session June 17.

The hour-long “CAAD and the World” discussion featured three alumni who have gone on to significant professional careers: Multimedia graduate and former CAAD professor Salem Al Qassimi; Interior Design graduate Hala Al Sabouni; and Design Management graduate Mustafa Zakaria.

Responding to a question from faculty member and moderator Dr. Juan Roldan, Al Qassimi said that after graduation he learned that “one of the lessons is to be self-motivated. Some students would work at a certain place and suddenly they don’t feel motivated and give up. Work has to motivate you but you really need to motivate yourself first.”

Both Zakaria and Al Sabouni concurred with Al Qassimi, Zakaria adding that while “every experience is different … you really need to find yourself and what you like.” Al Sabouni reminded new graduates they most likely will start out working on other people’s designs rather than their own.

The alumni shared fond memories of their CAAD experiences and, in response to Roldan’s questions, offered practical advice. 

Al Sabouni at one point noted that CAAD’s competitive atmosphere could make students into perfectionists. She advised students to “don’t be afraid to learn and make mistakes. Learn from your peers and seniors who will guide you and teach you new things that you weren’t taught in university.” In similar vein, Zakaria remarked to students that “You need to trust the process” of CAAD. 

On his part, Al Qassimi admitted always feeling pressure to achieve in university, but emphasized that “It’s crucial to not care about what others think and do things for yourself. It’s okay to change and challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to evolve.”