JJ Jahangir: Mastering MEM in 10 Months

Embarking on the path of higher education is a significant decision, often driven by personal aspirations and the desire for professional growth. JJ Jahangir, an individual with a technical background, shared his insightful journey pursuing a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree here at NC State. Let’s look at the factors that influenced his decision, the challenges he faced, and the valuable skills he acquired during his experience.

Choosing the MEM Degree at NC State

Jahangir’s decision to pursue a MEM degree was fueled by a desire to complement his current expertise with new leadership skills. He said, “My goal with this degree was to enhance my management and leadership skills to complement my existing technical skills.” The choice between an MBA and a MEM was a thoughtful one. Jahangir realized that the MEM program aligned better with his objectives.

NC State, with its strong reputation in STEM programs, became the natural choice for Jahangir. “There’s something about the color red and the energy on and around the campus that really appeals to me,” he shared. The proximity to downtown Raleigh and the university’s commitment to excellence in technical education solidified his decision to become part of the Wolfpack family.

Motivation for an Aggressive Plan

Completing the MEM degree in just two semesters is no small feat, and Jahangir’s motivation for such an aggressive plan stems from his personal drive to achieve and progress. Citing Parkinson’s law, he stated, “I am a big believer of Parkinson’s law, which says that work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion.” This mindset, coupled with a desire to minimize study costs, propelled him to tackle the program head-on.

“Extreme! For most students, six credit hours is intense if working full time, exclaimed Brandon McConnell, the interim MEM director. “JJ is highly disciplined, proactive in his time management, and singularly focused on getting completed. I couldn’t be prouder of his efforts, and we’ve been fortunate to have him in the program. His success speaks for itself.”

Balancing Work and Study

Navigating the demands of a full-time job while pursuing an advanced degree is a challenging endeavor. Jahangir’s strategy involved taking a break from work during the initial semester to focus solely on school. In the final semester, he reintegrated into full-time work, creating a demanding schedule where weekdays were dedicated to work, followed by evening classes. Weekends became crucial for catching up on assignments, emphasizing the importance of effective time management.

Kalene Thomas, assistant MEM director, added her perspective, “JJ’s dedication and time management were crucial to successfully navigating a demanding full-time job alongside a rigorous academic program. His ability to balance work and study is commendable and showcases the kind of commitment it takes to excel in the MEM program.”

Crucial Skills and Overcoming Challenges

Jahangir emphasized the need to overcome procrastination to accomplish such a demanding schedule. “The most crucial skill for me to possess was the ability to overcome procrastination. I realized that I couldn’t afford to put things off and had to remain disciplined,” he noted. Additionally, Jahangir highlights the challenges of absorbing a significant amount of complex knowledge each week, as graduate-level coursework demands a substantial commitment.

Thomas underlined the importance of resilience and time management, stating, “Grad school demands not only academic prowess but also resilience and effective time management. JJ’s ability to overcome challenges and stay focused on his goals is truly commendable.”

Benefits of Earning the MEM Degree

While Jahangir has yet to experience the full benefits of his MEM degree, he expressed confidence in his skills. “I have learned new skills during the program that will undoubtedly help me in my career,” he affirmed. The MEM degree has also provided networking opportunities, connecting Jahangir with industry professionals who serve as professors, guest lecturers, and peers who are tomorrow’s industry leaders.

“Working professionals are generally in the program for career advancement,” explained McConnell. They want to increase business and management skills while retaining a technical identity.” He highlighted the program’s flexibility, allowing professionals to customize their education and build skillsets that align with their career goals.

“Companies need senior leaders who are prepared to manage across various business functions, including engineering, HR, finance, compliance, etc.,” emphasized Thomas about the interdisciplinary nature of the MEM program. “MEM provides an interdisciplinary education to help one prepare for these multifunctional leadership roles.”

Jahangir’s journey through the MEM program is a testament to the dedication, motivation, and support needed to achieve ambitious academic goals. His story reflects the importance of aligning personal aspirations with educational choices and the significance of a strong support system in overcoming challenges. As Jahangir steps into the next chapter of his career, the lessons learned, and skills acquired during his MEM journey will undoubtedly shape his future endeavors.