Not a School case study: College student Tasmeen Ahmed

By Future TalentEd

College student Tasneem Ahmed says Samsung's Not a School programme offered a network and changed her career ambitions.

College student Tasneem Ahmed, age 18, took part in Samsung’s Not a School immersive programme in the summer of 2020. The experience changed her career ambitions and provided a new network of friends and contacts.

Tasneem's experience of Not a School:

While the academic side of traditional school is great, Not a School is pretty amazing in providing teaching on how to approach difficult issues. I wish we’d been taught more at school about how to prepare for and enter the working world; like how important it is to keep your CV updated and getting work experience in the
industries that relate to what you want to do in the future.

What really interested me about the programme was the opportunity to  understand more about how, as a society, we all approach problem solving in different ways.

I wanted to learn new paths to tackling challenges, including how to include other
people’s opinions and experiences. I wanted to push myself; if you don’t dive into the unknown, you’ll never learn more.

I was really hoping I’d gain more knowledge about the important topics my generation is facing right now; for example, I never knew that the Black Lives Matter movement started back in 2006.

Not a School's learning structure

The immersive programme takes place over two weeks, from Monday to Friday, with sessions running from 9.30am to 5.30pm. You get a timetable and it’s different on week one to week two; in the second week, you’re working on a project with a team, so you get more time to work on your presentations. You also get the chance to speak to the course mentors and ask them questions when you get stuck, which really reassured us.

The power of youth-led learning programmes

Our team stayed online a little later on week two because we wanted to perfect our presentation and make sure the script and slideshow was smooth. We all chose to do this because we felt it was worth it.

I learned so much, including during the sessions with the mentors but especially how to share our opinions respectfully and support each other.

I found it really interesting to learn more about ‘fake news’ and how we can tackle it, as well as how technology can help keep us close to one another, even though we’ve been kept
separate by the pandemic.

It’s incredible to be connected with different people, both the course mentors and experts, and the friends you make along the way. I’ve got really close to the people I worked with on Not a School and we’re going to stay in touch.

It made a difference that young people were involved in creating and delivering the programme because we could connect with them more easily. Because they were a similar age to us, it was like they knew what we were going through — they had already been there and faced some of the same challenges.

Acquiring a career direction

I originally thought I wanted to go into a career in something like marketing or communications, but since taking part in Not a School, I’ve realised I need to do something I love, so I’m thinking of doing film and East Asian studies at university. I’m fascinated by other cultures and Not a School showed me that through creative mediums such as film, we can help address some of the biases that exist in the world and reteach people that we are all equal.

Even if we have differences, it’s so important to come together and support each other, especially during these difficult times. I’ve recently been talking to a friend who is on a media course at college about making a short film about societal
differences, so watch this space!

Acquiring a positive approach to COVID-19, resilience and updating your CV

It’s very hard to get into the world of work right now and college is challenging — because of COVID, it’s one week on and one week off at the moment. Part of completing most courses involves getting work experience, but there aren’t many spaces and so many people are applying.

My advice would be: don’t stop applying for things; even if you get rejected, you have to keep trying. And keep updating your CV with anything you do that is relevant and shows you are working to improve your experience and skills – like Not a School.

Read more on the Not a School programme:

These insights were brought to you by Future TalentEd magazine.

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This piece was first featured in our Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Future TalentEd magazine for careers leaders, parents and students.

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