My name is Lewis Tendai Mboko. I am pursuing a Double Master’s Degree in Economics and Development Economics with Stellenbosch University in South Africa and Gottingen Universität in Germany. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. For my Advanced Levels in high school studies, I studied Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. At that time, my dream was to study Medicine or Engineering. However, a part inside of me always wanted to do something business-related. To counter my uncertainty in the career path that I wanted to follow, I applied for a range of courses spanning from engineering to business studies at Stellenbosch University, UCT, and WITS. I ended up finding myself at Stellenbosch University studying a BCom in Mathematics and Computer Science, which gave me a good balance of my initial interests. Wait a minute! You are probably wondering why I am pursuing master’s degrees in economics and development economics; a complete divergence from the dreams that the younger me had, and what I have mentioned earlier. Here is my story; I like to call it “Changes”.
As I have been growing up, so did my goals, aspirations and dreams. I made a lot of decisions that had an impact on my career and prospects. On the academic side of things, I had never planned or dreamt of studying Economics, but when I took the Economics modules in my first year, it was love at first sight. I continued with Mathematics and Computer Science for two years because I did well in those subjects hence, I considered making any change in my course irrational. My plan then was to finish my degree, graduate and start working immediately. It is only when I got to the third year that I made the switch to Economics. I enjoyed the field so much to the extent that I later considered doing postgraduate studies in Economics. I do not regret the years that I took Mathematics and Computer Science. The knowledge I got from those subjects did not go to waste but gave me an advantage and important skills both needed to make a good economist.
Life at university comprises many decisions you must take, easy and hard ones: to go to class or not, to continue studying or get a job after graduation. No matter how big or small they seem, all the decisions, have an impact from a micro level (your performance and grades) to a macro level (your career and the person you become). It is normal to not know exactly what career path you want to pursue unless you are following a degree with a specific career path. However, most students do courses that do not have a certain career path, causing more panic and fear of the future (I was once a victim of this).
University life is arguably one of the most exciting, demanding, confusing and stressful parts of life as a young adult. The changes from the childish, carefree and playful nature that most students live by in high school to a more mature and more independent person in society usually occur during life at university. As one maneuvers the university system, the mindset they have carried over the years is challenged, questioned, and confronted with difficult life choices. This inevitably requires one to take more responsibility and be more proactive in making decisions.
What is the moral of the story? It is okay to feel like you are not making the right decision at times. Changes are a part of life, and in university, you will need to be adaptable to changes. However, it is of paramount importance to always have a career plan, even if it is not perfect. Likewise, it is also important that you get proper guidance, and possibly a mentor that walks with you throughout the journey. No hard decision is comprised of a clear and clean path. Every hard decision involves predictions, errors, compromises and pure luck. Saying one is always better than the other could be an unjust way to view the entire picture. With this said, I wish you well in your academic journey and your career. You got this!