Academic leader, routine scholarship winner, CIS enthusiast, true all rounder – Interview with Kabir Singh Mann

It doesn’t take a lot of time for a student to start their education with Fraser Valley India and soon turn themselves into a story of inspiration, dedication, and a glimpse of the enormous success they’re set to become in future.

One such story is of Kabir Singh Mann, who joined FVI in 2016 in the CIS program. While in India, he made his mark on campus and in academics. He could be seen participating in college events and leading the front in his studies.

He transferred to UFV Canada in 2018, and since then has been grabbing every opportunity to grow his profile. From learning from his mistakes to conquering insecurities faced by an international student, from earning scholarships to pursuing co-ops, Kabir has chosen the right path to lay a strong foundation.  

Mann has a penchant for merit based achievement, since he was the recipient of the Opinder Dhaliwal Scholarship for earning the highest CGPA in his batch, and after transferring he earned the AU BAK LING Exceptional Academic Achievement Scholarship

A tremendously enriching educational background backs Kabir’s excerpts to these interview questions where we ask him about his journey, and more.

Here’s what Kabir had to say. 

How do you think transferring to Canada from FVI was any different than other ways to transition to Canada?

I believe that the most important factor that comes into play when transitioning to Canada from FVI is that while we are in India, we get to acquaint ourselves with the education system in Canada, build our CV by way of Summer Practicum Programs, and volunteer for the multiple activities that are taking place on campus, thereby helping us understand the value of community service.

The most crucial advantage that FVI brings over all other ways of moving to Canada is the ability to do everything that I mentioned above from the comfort of your home. It’s a great way to get used to the basic lifestyle in Canada. The rest, of course, comes with actually living in the country independently. 

There is a tectonic shift between the Indian education system when compared to the Canadian applied education system. In what ways do you think the latter is beneficial? Do you feel your college prepared you for the workforce and the real world?

Education in North America is largely applied. It is not limited to what’s mentioned in textbook. A major chunk of assessments is based on applying what we have learned in class to the world’s realities. Education System in India, for most post-secondary institutions, assigns 100% weightage to examinations. That’s not the case with most areas of study in Canada.

For instance, many of our courses required extensive fieldwork wherein we built contacts and networked for research on various projects. While that may seem like an unnecessary effort when the internet is our accomplice, it prepares us for the real business world. Job hunting is majorly, if not entirely, based on who you network with and how you network. That is certainly a very valued take away from the system. 

If given a chance to graduate all over again, what would you do differently?

Honestly, nothing. And I say that because I think even if I have made mistakes in my journey so far, they have only made me better. I wouldn’t want to change anything. 

What was one determiner that helped you choose FVI?

I was intrigued by the prospect of spending at least one year in FVI to get used to the new education system and become more adaptable to the lifestyle there before moving to Canada. It gives you time to adjust, and you also become a little more mature to start a life independent of your family. 

What do you think are some insecurities that international students face? Did you face any such insecurities? If yes, how did you manage to overcome them?

A major insecurity that surfaces ever so often, in my opinion, is probably the fear of not getting an equal opportunity. It’s only fair to think so because we are standing at the threshold of starting a completely new journey in a land so alien and cultures very different when we first arrive in Canada.

With our parents spending their hard-earned money to give us a good life, our insecurities do revolve around whether we’ll be able to do good, or if we’ll get a decent job, or will we be able to survive. It’s ubiquitous, and I think it’s also important to feel that. It assures you that you are on the right path.

The only way to overcome them is to be as present as possible. Indulge in activities, make friends, get to know people. Sometimes merely talking to someone opens doors to numerous opportunities. The most important piece of advice that I can give is never to lose faith in yourself. There is nothing that you can’t do so long as you believe in yourself 100%. 

Tell us a little bit about your Co-op experience. What was the organization, the role, and how did it align with your life goals?

In summer 2019, I came across a junior analyst position at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) Department. I was instantly intrigued by the opportunity since I had prior data analysis experience as a Junior Data Analyst Intern in India and I interviewed for the position and was offered the job having been associated with the department ever since.

I would associate the success of my co-op with my exceptionally supportive team. They have been my mentors throughout and have provided me with numerous opportunities to grow, both personally and professionally. My team has always been encouraging and what made us all work together so well was that we shared the same values. Our camaraderie made my experience unforgettable.

I had the chance to be a part of a seminar hosted by the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) and numerous other events such as the Information Builders Summit. My tenure with IRP has certainly opened a lot of doors for me. It has equipped me with the field’s most valuable technical skills besides enriching me with my teammates’ life-long relationships. 

How did you manage your co-op, and what is something that students need to keep in mind before looking for a co-op working opportunity?

Managing a co-op is no different from working a full-time job. One thing that prospective students need to be prepared for is that their programs might extend by a semester or two. But I would say that if you have the chance of taking up the co-op, do not let it go.

The chances are that the organization you land a co-op with will hire you after you graduate. It certainly gives you an edge over your peers. 

Tell us a little bit about the scholarship. How’d you find out, what did you achieve, and how do you think it made an impact? What do you plan on doing with the scholarship amount?

My scholarship came as a surprise for me. I wasn’t aware of it until I was pleasantly surprised upon receiving a letter from UFV informing me that I had bagged the AU BAK LING Exceptional Academic Achievement Scholarship valued at CAD 750.

The scholarship was to recognize academic excellence in the field of Computer Information Systems. It certainly was a great encouragement. I was positively motivated and was overcome by a sense of gratitude and pride. I was reinforced that I was doing good. As for how I’m going to use the amount, I have no plans, honestly. It’s probably going to earn some interest!! 

For a lot of students, scholarships are like a milestone. Hoping it was one for you, tell us about the next goal you’ve set your eyes on?

It most certainly was! Do you know how they say don’t count your chickens before they hatch? I like to keep things simple and go with the flow.

How did your experience at FVI/UFV help you find your first/right position for work after graduation?

FVI’s summer practicum program was a great encouragement to build our CVs. Also, volunteering to participate in numerous on-campus events helped me thrive in my co-op. I am thankful for that, truly.

Tell us about a time when you took initiative while in India. What made you choose the right opportunity for you?

I was always present in all activities during my time at FVI. Whether it was being the Head of Hospitality team during FVI’s Annual Awards Ceremony and its First Alumni Meet or being the Manager of Operations for Qbiz India, I have actively participated throughout. I even had the opportunity of being the Student Ambassador for a year.

I believe all of my experiences made me a great leader and gauge several work opportunities in Canada.

How was student life like at the Chandigarh Campus?

I have so many memories of my student life at the Chandigarh Campus. Whether it was the Annual Goa Trip or the Diwali celebrations, the campus was always lit, in the most positive sense of the word.

There was always something going on around the campus to keep us entertained. Something as simple as playing a game of Foosball with friends could make our day. I wouldn’t shy away from saying that I miss that. It was an experience like no other!

With the ever-evolving pandemic situation, uncertainties and stress have gripped every student alike. What would be your advice to a student who finds these times challenging and never-ending, considering they stand at a pivotal juncture?

Uncertainty is, honestly, palpable at this time. Even for us, we aren’t sure what the future holds for us! But the only piece of advice I can give is not to lose hope. Things will definitely get better; they always do.

Just be sure to take this time in your stride and make the best out of it. Don’t worry about how you will make it through because I know that we all will. It’s just a matter of time.