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Ex-Column: Emirati Dimensions
Latest posts by Ahmad Al Gergawi (@A_AlGergawi) (see all)
- Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)
You are a fresh new graduate, a proud moment for you to celebrate this victory after all those sleepless nights staring at numbers, observing figures, and reading endless book volumes. You have worked hard to get where you are, then this sudden question pops into your head, where do I go from here?
Everyone you know becomes your life coach during that phase. People around me suggested that I should “go on a long vacation”, “catch up on sleep”, or “pursue a master’s degree”. All these pieces of advice didn’t benefit me at all; in fact, they only created confusion on what my next steps in life would be. Even in my confused state, there was an adrenaline rush that took over me since I knew that I was so close to being independent and breaking away from my parents’ generous tree.
I was extremely anxious and that’s why I started applying for jobs before my graduation. I told to myself I would finally be able to utilize what I’ve learned in the last 4 years. It was extremely vital to do my research on where, how, and when will I apply for jobs. Suggestions came that one should start as soon as possible, because it was early 2011 and it was a season where companies began recruiting. Many of my friends and colleagues advised me to apply right away, but the issue was where and why.
Everyone was talking of the Abu Dhabi (AD) trend, as I like to call it, since the job market is more dynamic there and the pay is higher. I took my chances and started applying in AD to different companies through career fairs. In January of 2011, I went to the Abu Dhabi Career Fair, however I didn’t think anyone was serious since companies seemed to exhibit there only to brand themselves. The officials of each company looked bored and didn’t want to answer queries that I asked about the company and a lot of the male members of the organizations were more interested in talking to the “ladies”.
The unprofessional and unorganized environment I saw at the AD career fair de-motivated me. Every company’s representative asked us to fill in our names and information in their computer’s database. I could have filled my name and information from the house instead of driving all the way to AD.
A week passed and I was proven wrong, when a Global UAE company based in AD called me for an interview. In less than a week, I was asked to fill in some forms, and waited some more. I was anxious as it was my first interview and didn’t know what to expect, but luckily for me, I already knew some friends of mine who have worked at this company.
My friends who work there said nothing but great things about working there in terms of career development and experience. The pay however was much lower than the average AD pay, but I could care less. I wanted experience and a dynamic environment with a sustainable career. My interview went very well and everything went perfect. I got a job offer three days later and all what I needed to do now was complete some papers.
Initially I said yes, but still some people told me to wait on it and take my time to study the job market and see what else is out there for me. They were right, I kept interviewing in as many places as possible with some interviews going well, whilst others were difficult especially when they give you case interviews to solve on spot or ask you to divide 145800 by 204589 manually in your head.
When I was interviewed by a Public sector office and asked about career development programs, my interviewer replied by saying they do not offer such programs. As soon as I heard her say that I was looking for the door. Other companies impressed me with their strategy of hiring individuals, where I went on to take a test assessing the psychometric and English capabilities of the potential applicants. The Assessment would take three stages, until they decide if you are in or out. Such programs maybe nerve-racking, but at the same time they show you how the company builds itself in terms of strategy, branding, employees, and career.
After being interviewed by various companies, I learned that each had its negative and positive aspects; and that the job market is extremely competitive. In the end, what mattered to me in a company is how far it is invested in its employees in terms of career development, training, and experience one can gain.
It shouldn’t matter if it was Abu Dhabi or Dubai, as long as the company can provide a sustainable career for me that incorporates creativity and credibility; then I was willing to be part of it. There is a lot for each fresh graduate to learn that college can’t teach you, but you will have to teach yourself. The ball is never in your court when it comes to the job market, until you prove otherwise with your personality, experience, and knowledge.