Family is everything to Mohammed Uddin. So when his father lost his job and Uddin had to choose between taking care of his family or continuing his college education, Uddin made the sacrifice of putting school on hold.
But he never gave up on his goal of going to college. He eventually found a way to balance full time work with going to school and will graduate with a degree in information systems management from Wayne State University.
“It's a scary feeling, having to take care of your family and worry about your own future,” Uddin said. “There were definitely times where I wanted to give up and just work a dead-end job for the rest of my life and not go back to school anymore. But going through all this, it humbles you, and it teaches you a lot of life skills. Everything worked out for the best.”
Uddin has four younger siblings, and his mother is unable to work, so when his father lost his job, his family was in a bad spot. Uddin knew that getting a college education was important, but he couldn’t turn his back on his family when they needed him most.
“It was a really tough time,” Uddin said. “I had to choose whether I continue going to school or do I work to provide for my family? But I really didn’t have a choice. I didn't want my family to be out on the streets, and we were almost at that point.”
Uddin said it was also a difficult time for him personally. He was doing all he could to help provide for his parents and siblings by working a variety of jobs, but something was still missing.
“I was kind of in a bad spot,” he recalled. “I really didn't know what to do with my life. I was at a dead-end job, and I wasn't happy with myself. I was kind of depressed — anxiety through the roof, that type of thing.”
Uddin decided to re-enroll in school and earned 64 credits in 18 months at a community college before coming back to Wayne State in 2019.
“I don’t know what came over me once I was back in school, but that was the right choice for me,” he said.
Once he was at Wayne State, Uddin was able to take advantage of the school’s online classes to help him balance school and his full-time job.
“The online class options have been working out tremendously well for me,” he said. “I've been able to juggle everything with minimal stress. I think the online classes are the reason I’ve been able to do all this.
“If that wasn't an option, I think I would have to either go to school part time or cut down on work or find something part time, which would decrease the earnings that I bring in to support myself and my family. But thankfully Wayne State has the online system.”
Uddin also took advantage of Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business Corporate Mentor Program. The program matched him with Matthew Guillory, an IT project manager at HW Kaufman Financial in Farmington Hills.
Guillory helped Uddin during the interview process at General Motors, where Uddin was able to line up an operations analyst position starting in January.
“It's been my dream to work in a big Fortune 500 company like GM,” he said. “Guillory has prior experience working with GM, so he was able to give me valuable insight on what interview questions to look out for, what to study for and how to prepare myself. I think, because of those tips, I was able to separate myself from other candidates and receive the offer.”
Guillory enjoyed his time working with Uddin and believes he has a bright future.
“Mohammed is a dedicated student who has overcome many obstacles on his journey to become an IT professional,” Guillory said. “His tenacity, wit and executive presence will serve him well at General Motors.”
Uddin has always been into computers, which is why he chose to earn a degree in information systems management. He traces his interest in technology to a Nintendo 64 his father bought him.
“I wasn’t aware of anything computer related until he got me that Nintendo 64,” Uddin said. “Ever since then, I’ve been opening things up, seeing how things work. It just sparked an interest in technology. Technology is such a growing field, and it's not going away. I felt like this would be the perfect industry to get into because there will always be a demand.”
Uddin is a first-generation college student. His parents were born in Bangladesh and didn’t attend college. He’s hopeful that earning his degree will not only help his future, but also set a good example for his four younger siblings.
“Being a first-gen student, I didn't have anyone to guide me once I got to college,” Uddin said. “I had to kind of fend for myself. But now, with all my experience, I'll be more than happy to provide help to my younger siblings because I want them to go to college as well and be successful in life. It’s been a journey for me, but I think it was all worth it.”