Student Spotlight - Danial Sheikh
Written by: Rachita Chugh
As seen in the February issue of Lazy Faire magazine.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. What major are you pursuing, and which year of school are you in?
I came to Canada in 2012 (in grade 9); I completed high school in Calgary and started my university education at the UofA. I started off as a Microbiology major but quickly learned that doing research for the rest of my life was not an option for me. I found it incredibly boring, and the things I learned in my classes was not directly applicable to real life. After a lot of honest soul-searching and research, I switched to Business school with a major in Finance and minor in Business Analytics. All the knowledge I have acquired in school is closely linked to what is asked of me on the job. I am in my fourth year.
This month’s focus is “finding your purpose.” What does that mean to you?
Finding your purpose does not come easily; most people never find their purpose. I think that I was lucky enough to find mine in the switch from Microbiology to Business. To me, finding your purpose does not necessarily translate to doing what you are talented at, but rather finding something you are interested in and can hone over time. Many people attempt new things and give up once they reach a hurdle; however, to find your real purpose and passion one has to work hard at it over time. I had a really rough start to school, and first year really was not great for me. I had no purpose, but two things helped me – my persistence and my desire to venture outside of my comfort zone.
I surround myself with people that support me and push me to better myself. I attribute a lot of my achievements (including securing Co-op terms at RBC) to a friend I made during orientation week. He pushed me to branch out, participate in case competitions, and even apply to Co-op. This is why I really like business; there is a culture of excellence within the faculty, and it encourages you to try new things.
You are currently on your final Co-op term (with your second and third terms being at RBC); tell us a bit about that journey.
I did my first Co-op at the City of Edmonton as a Financial Analyst. My second Co-op was at RBC under Strategy and Transformation, and I am currently working at RBC Capital Markets.
Follow up: How did you end up here, in Toronto?
I never imagined that I would end up here. I applied to numerous different jobs and focused on extracurriculars and building a solid skillset. I did an interview for RBC in summer 2019 and ended up landing the position! I am one of two students from UofA at RBC (Toronto) currently. It has been an incredibly humbling opportunity; I continually make an effort to excel at my role and absorb all the knowledge I can. Even as recently as a year ago, I thought working at RBC Capital Markets was nearly impossible. I have worked diligently to achieve this feat, and I try to never get discouraged.
How has the Co-op experience been for you? How have you balanced alternating between school and work?
My experience has been nothing short of phenomenal. When in school, I tend to get bored fairly quickly. Similarly, work can also get boring after several consecutive months. So, alternating between work and school has worked out really for me; it has kept me “fresh.” It has been interesting to see how “classroom” content fits into a workplace context.
What’s on-the-go for you currently? Both work, school, and extracurricular wise?
I just started my second term at RBC this month, so I am learning the ropes in my new role. I have already proposed a new project for my team which involves building a centralized portal to automate many of their fixed income trading books.
Extracurricular wise, I am learning Python and am also enrolled in several courses on machine learning.
What was a defining moment in your university career that led you to where you are?
Applying to business school was a defining moment for me, and it required a great deal of introspection on my part. Growing up, I only considered the Sciences to be a viable career path, but the more I considered business…the more it aligned with my interests.
What is the difference between Danial from first year and Danial today?
In first year, I had absolutely no direction and no care for academics or extracurricular activities. It sounds strange, but my only goal in first year was to have no goal. I was so clueless and lost. I was raised in a fairly strict household, hence resorted to rebellion in my early years of university. My grades slipped, and I realized I was not passionate about or interested in the Sciences. That being said, it shaped who I am and brought me to where I am today. I am determined and focused on setting goals for myself. The Danial today is a much more positive person.
Any last questions/remarks?
To people who relate to my journey and who felt they were or are nothing…just know that you can change anything if you work hard enough. There is no goal you cannot achieve. Do not compare yourself to where others are today – compare yourself to where you were yesterday.