Dream big, start small, but most of all start!
Being born and raised as a refugee, life was full of challenges and obstacles. After spending a decade in Pakistan, I came back to Afghanistan and started Dentistry school but it did not take too much that I got interested in Global Health.
“Be the kind of person who dares to face life's challenges and overcome them rather than dodging them.”
― Roy T. Bennett
For some reason, dentistry was not an ideal profession for me and day by day I was getting more interested in Global health. I knew that to start a career in global health I need to have a good background. Keeping this in mind, I explored ways to upgrade my skill sets and set my global health foundation.
It has been 2 years since I decided to start publishing in research journals. Some of my co-authored articles have been published in the world's top journals like Nature, The Lancet and Journal of Global Health.
If a 23 year old undergraduate student can do it, I am convinced you can too. In this blog post I want to share how I did it and what I have learned.
Daily reading can help you a lot to enhance your background knowledge. In the span of one year, I was able to read thousands of articles about health and technology. These articles helped me to talk, discuss, and share ideas about health and technology openly and publicly.
To be able to become a good researcher, you need to read a lot! Remember, I did not read all the articles in one night. It was not an overnight success. So, tip number one: read, read and read!
To achieve that I made a schedule and committed to reading articles. My main sources were articles from the World Economic Forum, Harvard University, and Futurism. Keep in mind to read from valid resources. Again, consistency in reading is the key to success!
Finding your peers will help you to reach your goals in a short time. Back then, when I started to engage in research, I did not know what to do. All I could do was find people with similar interests and passions. Luckily, I found a few people who were at the same level as I was.
As a result, we learned a lot from each other, and up until this day, we are continuously working. For instance, I started with a friend of mine, and until now, we have published more than 30 papers together. So, tip number two: find your peers and synergize! You cannot endure alone in this journey.
Networking and mentorship, I cannot emphasize much on these!
From the early days, I was interested in talking with high-profile researchers and seeking mentorship from them. Indeed, I read so many books on networking including the famous one by Keith Ferrazzi “Never eat alone.”
Networking has helped me talk with some of the great people in the field of research, and I even got the chance to co-author papers with those people.
My advice is to follow and engage professionals with tremendous experience in your respective field and find a way of talking to them and seeking their mentorship. What has worked for me has been reaching out via Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook. The messages I sent to professors were long, full of enthusiastic tone, and relevant to my field of interest.
High-profile researchers have gone through various trajectories in life and will be a glimmer of hope. Without a doubt, at first, you will receive many rejections because people will not respond quickly but slowly everything will work out in the end. Remember, when you plan to message , display utmost humility.
Networking and seeking mentorship are time-consuming skills you have to adopt! It was not easy for me to establish networking with professors from the UK, US, Australia, and other countries.
Up until now, I have sought the mentorship of five professors in the field of research. Their diversity and skills have massively enriched me. So, tip number three: continue following high-profile people in your field and seek mentorship from them.
Start from a very tiny place! So often, we jump towards big things without realizing that every step requires effort and practice.
When I was at the beginning of the research, I was doing small things like writing blogs, writing commentaries, letters. That helped me to learn the basics of research and publication. There are ethics in publication and research that every junior researcher has to learn.
Moreover, take a learning stance when it comes to research because this is a very vast field and most of the time it does not sound very clear if you do not seek help and consult from seniors. So, tip number four: always start from a small place and as you proceed, gradually add more challenges to yourself, so you continuously learn.
Remain consistent in your path! The journey of research and publication is filled with ups and downs. There are moments you feel super excited about your achievements, and then there are moments you feel miserable because of your failures.
Embrace both of them! Back in 2020, when I published my first paper, I was ecstatic and felt as if I had achieved a huge goal. I continued to publish two more papers subsequently. I thought this was the finest period of my time. However, after a month or so, I was out of publication and it continued for almost two months. During this time, I was miserable and did not know what to do.
Nevertheless, I trust myself and the journey. This was a perfect time for me to reflect and devise new plans. As the year 2020 was getting closer to the end, I only had five publications. The start of 2021 was full of abundance and blessings. I got to know more amazing people and realized the importance of working with teams. Until now, I have published more than forty publications. It all goes back to consistency in work. So, tip number five: consistency. Remember, you will fail a lot, and you will achieve a lot but remain consistent in your path.
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