Consider Taking Interesting Classes That Aren’t Required for Your Major

By Abbas Husain

Pakistani Student Association’s Story

The Pakistani Student Association (PSA) has been at the University at Buffalo for over 35 years. With many students of Pakistani and South Asian descent, having a club dedicated to celebrating Pakistan and its culture only made sense.

PSA hosts traditional Pakistani as well as American and Pakistani mixed cultural events. One of the largest events held is a Mock Shaadi which is a mock traditional Pakistani wedding with a western twist with music, dancing, food, skits, and other performances. Another event that would be held is Lassi Pong which is a Pakistani twist on the usual popular game of cup pong. Also, International Fiesta is a huge event where the club is represented along with other cultural clubs through songs and dances from Pakistan. Some of the more regular events include food and music while members get to interact with each other and build connections with others that may have similar interests.

Pakistani Student Association, group photo, University of Buffalo. Bottom row, far right: Abbas Husain

Experiences as Vice President at PSA

As Vice President at PSA, it has been a tumultuous year in terms of transitioning as the club was “on-pause” for the Fall semester. This means that there are no events and no access to funding because it was a unanimous decision that PSA could not operate with in-person restrictions in place. Most members would usually come for the socializing, music, food, dancing, games, and other fun activities that in-person events have. Since the Spring semester has started, the board has decided to take the club off-pause so in-person events can happen with some restrictions. Virtual and hybrid events still take time to plan as purchase orders need to be put in two weeks in advance for events such as a virtual Kahoot quiz about Pakistan where the top 3 winners receive prizes. An in-person event that will occur in the future is Mithai Monday which is where students can drop in for some free sweets on-campus. Working with the student government and vendors sometimes proves to be difficult, but with some negotiation, it helps out in regards to events and venues. Overall, being the VP at PSA was a great decision and I would choose to do it again if I traveled back 2 years from now.

Dancing the Mock Shaadi

One of my favorite moments in PSA included dancing the Mock Shaadi. This included dances seen in traditional Bollywood films where separate men and women dances are changing every few minutes, with the last dance being both men and women. Having multiple practices before the event was the most memorable as I had connected with new members while rehearsing dances. This made for having fun at rehearsals and lasting friendships.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

People must become aware of other cultures so they can understand what other people are accustomed to and become comfortable with it as diversity is becoming prevalent nowadays. People should step outside of their comfort zones as it is considered a social skill to connect and network with others from different cultures and perspectives. This is helpful in business when dealing with clients from different nationalities and cultures, especially while working with international partners.

Why I Chose My Major

While applying for college, I applied as a Business Administration major where I would choose my concentration later. I always knew that I wanted to get into the Business/Finance field but was also interested in other disciplines such as Operations because of its importance and job prospects. Once I took a few courses, I was able to narrow down my choice to Finance because I am good with Accounting and Excel. Just before the end of my Junior year, my academic advisor recommended me to apply for my school’s Data Analytics concentration due to my academic standing. The concentration only accepts the top 40 students from the business college but I was not too keen on learning computer programming and statistics because I was hoping for an easy Senior year. However, after some research and convincing, I added the Data Analytics concentration which has been the best decision I have made because the additional skills I acquired increased the easiness of my job search.

Advice on How to Navigate University Life

First, students should start looking for clubs during their Freshman year. Networking with Seniors in academic and social clubs helps with the job search because once you look for a job as a Senior, the people you networked with would already have a few years of experience at their job and could provide some mentorship. In order to have a productive college life, I would also recommend signing up for classes that seem interesting even though it is not required for the major. This helps students explore other interests that they may want to minor in. A great way to find jobs and internships is almost always through the school’s job board, as I experienced. I found that many of my peers have found their jobs and internships this way because employers that post on the school’s job board are specifically looking for my university’s students.

Abbas Husain graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration, Finance and Data Analytics (2021) from The State University of New York at Buffalo. He was Vice President of the Pakistani Student Association (PSA) and the Head of Finance and Operations at the University of Buffalo Financial Management Association. Abbas recently accepted a position with M&T Bank in Buffalo, New York. Starting in July, he will be coming in as an Associate in their Treasury Modeling division through their Management Development Program.

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