CAIRO: So, you’re fresh out of university. You’ve got a lifetime of excitement ahead of you; paying bills, buying a house or apartment, starting a family with expenses, expenses and expenses. The first step is to find a job, not a job in daddy’s company, a job that you earned and genuinely want to do.
A nice suit and a fancy resume will not get you a job; you’ve got to get it for yourself. Ask yourself what skills you possess that makes you unique; what will make you stand out among 10, 20 or 100 other job applicants. Did you do an internship as an undergraduate? Career advisors emphasize the importance of internships as they provide hands-on training and exposure to a company’s internal operations.
“They get to have exposure to the world before graduation, explains Maha Guindi, director of the Career Advising and Placement Services at the American University in Cairo. “When they get the opportunity to be on the job, they are flexible to apply what they’ve learned, they are flexible to learn new things, because each organization has its own way of doing things. That kind of flexibility and willingness to learn is there, which is something I think organizations welcome and look for.
Companies are not obligated to hire their interns. However, Guindi emphasizes it is a win-win situation as any internship is added experience to a candidate’s Curriculum Vitae, or CV. “Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “Life Story, so you want to make your life story as interesting and diverse as possible. Money speaks loudest to the young and inexperienced, and so salaries are a primary concern for new graduates. Remember, most internships are unpaid, but you will reap the benefits in years to come, so don’t let that discourage you – make the most of it while you’re there. In an interview, first impression is everything. An internship is an extended interview, in a sense, where you can prove yourself day-after-day, and learn along the way.
The Egyptian government estimates an average 600,000 young men and women look to enter the workforce each year. The sad reality is there are not enough jobs to employ all of those people. With that, you must rise to the top of the totem pole, studying the sectors that interest you, finding where there is a demand for manpower and cultivating your skills.
“The number of young graduates is increasing year after year and those who are in the pool of job seekers are definitely much more than the opportunities available, Guindi adds. “The first job is not necessarily going to be an excellent paying job. No job is going to be around the corner from our house. If we don’t do the effort of traveling and working hard at the beginning of our lives, we will never get there.
Of course, mid-career changes, while a tougher decision given financial obligations, are by no means uncommon. The fact is that people often fall into certain careers that don’t interest or excite them because it is the only job they can find. Also, the working world may reveal new possibilities one never knew existed when they first graduated from university.
“It’s unfair to tie yourself to an educational degree you took as a teenager and spent the rest of your life commiserating if you don’t find a job on that front, notes Sherif Samy, chairman of Skill-Link, an internet-based job search and career advice provider. “Work for a while, see what’s happening, mature, open up your mind and then you might decide Human Resources is very attractive.
It is never too late to better yourself. If you are interested in computer programming, enroll in a course that teaches you the basics. If you enjoy fashion, take a sewing class and learn to make some of the styles you like. What may seem like just a hobby to you could yield new career opportunities if pursued wisely.