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News > Alumni Spotlight > A Curved Ball Opens Up to a New Opportunity in Life

A Curved Ball Opens Up to a New Opportunity in Life

Tatiana Tabrani ('15) highlights the importance of embracing opportunities and being open-minded. Despite COVID disrupting her career plans in the States, it led to a new beginning in Singapore.

It's been 7 years since I graduated from SJI International in 2015, and sometimes it feels like just yesterday because I formed some of my closest friendships during my time there. Instead of taking a break before college, I decided to enroll in a semester at IMG Academy in Florida. Those six months were transformative, as I underwent intense tennis training and studied various subjects. Being in a foreign land, I was tested physically and mentally every day, and it completely changed me as a person.

Afterwards, I pursued my studies at Boston University, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Business Administration and Management. Currently, I'm working as a Digital Product Manager (Product Owner) at DBS, and I've been in the workforce for two years. Life has been incredibly challenging yet rewarding, and I wouldn't have it any other way. When the SJII team approached me for this write-up, I was pleasantly surprised. I hope my story inspires and supports you on your IB/career journey. I enjoyed reading about others during transitional periods like these, and I'm happy to share my experiences.

Choosing to study in Boston was a relatively easy decision for me because I always yearned for the experience of studying and living overseas. Additionally, I wanted to major in Engineering to expand my future job opportunities, as I had a keen interest in product and manufacturing. I knew I could also incorporate business aspects through electives and eventually pursue a minor, as it was another field that fascinated me. It's worth noting that studying for a bachelor's degree in America provides the advantage of changing your major with minimal consequences.

However, studying in Boston presented its own set of challenges. Despite it being a vibrant college town, cultural differences both inside and outside the classroom had a significant impact. Adapting to the "American ways of teaching" took time—understanding how theories were explained and how grades were distributed among various assignment types. Beyond academics, encountering a diverse pool of students required patience in finding my own circle. But this pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and expand my horizons. It may sound intimidating, but don't let fear hinder you because everyone starting college goes through the same experiences, and you're never alone.

College is the epitome of independent learning. You have the freedom to decide how much you want to study and how much you want to enjoy yourself. Ultimately, you're responsible for your own progress and success. To some extent, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program prepared me for college by exposing me to various assignment types and fostering a sense of independent learning. It also taught me the importance of seeking help when needed and that it's perfectly okay to do so.

My career path has veered significantly from my initial plans, primarily due to the impact of COVID-19. It goes to show that despite our best efforts to plan, we must always be prepared for unexpected turns, as many factors in life are beyond our control. I had secured a job offer in Michigan at one of the world's largest automobile wire harness suppliers, where I had previously interned. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit hard in early 2020, resulting in severe setbacks for the automobile industry. The company had to furlough about 75% of its employees, and my offer was rescinded. Faced with this sudden shift, I had to reassess my plans and broaden my job applications to both America and Singapore.

I had always dreamt of working in America after college, but it became evident that the chances of getting a job offer there were low, especially after several unsuccessful interviews in Boston. Around seven months into my job hunt, I received an offer in Singapore. While it wasn't an easy decision, the opportunity aligned perfectly with my career aspirations. It bridged finance & technology which was extremely fitting to the opportunity. Furthermore, it was a turbulent and uncertain time in the world with an unknown virus at that time & I think I felt more comfortable being around family during such a period. In hindsight, it all worked out in my favour, and I don’t think I would do it any differently.

Several unforeseen circumstances occurred after coming back home, and I am glad that I was able to be with my family. As cliché as it may sound, sometimes life throws you curveballs and leads you down a path which was not in any of your plan’s A, B or C but you will just need to trust that you will always figure it out somehow & that it will all work out. To those about to start their career, I’d say to embrace opportunities that come your way. There is time to try your hands on several different paths before ‘settling’ down on one! Also, it is very common for your career to be completely different from your degree which is totally fine & normal. To the current IB batch and to anyone applying for college or entering college, I’d say to go into every experience with an open mind & heart. You will learn something from every kind of experience. Sometimes the most insignificant experience you’re facing in the present can have the largest lessons & impact on you in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as most of the time, most people would be more than happy to share and help you out whether it be in college or at work. I think that learning to adapt to different situations, and being flexible and open-minded can bring you a long way!

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