Photo Credit: Education For Employment (EFE)
Wednesday
Sep 17
2014
September 17, 2014

My Journey to a Job in Palestine

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Nisreen Mitwally is a beneficiary of the 2011 Commitment to Action First Jobs, Then Futures for MENA Youth made by Education for Employment (EFE), The MasterCard Foundation, and their partners—which has prepared nearly 15,000 young people across the Middle East and North Africa for job readiness through business, sales, and technical trainings over the past three years. She will participate in the “Putting Education to Work" Plenary Session at next week's 10th Annual Meeting. Watch the panel discussion live on Tuesday September 23, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. EST.

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When I graduated from university in Palestine where I live, I was extremely excited. Like all of my friends, I wanted to work and begin a new phase of my life. To start down this path, I informed my family that I was looking for a job so they could forward any opportunities they found to me. I then widened the reach of my connections to include my friends, friends of friends, and professors, even posting my search on Facebook and Twitter. And all throughout the process, I was submitting my CV to any business that looked like it had work well-suited for my background as a new graduate.

Despite this determination, at each step I met failure. Reaching nothing but dead-ends, my mind often fell into negative thoughts, dominated by stress and frustration. No work. No work. It was so hard, and I felt that I was a heavy burden on my family.  Not having a job means that you cannot contribute to your family, and do not have independence, especially the financial independence that you need to make your own decisions.  Friends of mine were in this situation too—even now, many of them haven’t been able to find a job. 

Eventually, I heard from some of my friends about a job training and placement organization called Education For Employment (EFE). My friends had done the EFE training, and I started to hear from more and more people that they had gotten their jobs through EFE. I said to myself, “If they can do it, so can I.”  I knew from my friends who were already in the program that EFE asks its graduates to refer the names of friends and family members who may be in need of the training and job placement. I asked one of my friends to recommend me, and when I received a call from EFE a week later, I signed up. 

This is when everything changed. When you go through a job training program like EFE, you learn about what the workplace environment will be like, how to market yourself in interviews, and how to be most productive when working under pressure. They challenged us with creative projects, like working with a team to build a structure out of marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti. Now that I am in the working world, I see that the project was not really just about spaghetti and marshmallows—it was about how to communicate with a team, how to be a leader, and how to take direction.

When you go through a job training program like EFE, you learn about what the workplace environment will be like, how to market yourself in interviews, and how to be most productive when working under pressure.
 
Training also provides much more than skill building to make sure that you are prepared for the workplace. At EFE, the trainer was so positive, she made a personal connection with each one of us and gave us positive reinforcement and encouragement, and this is the most important thing because so many youth feel lost and stuck between graduation and work. As young people transitioning through a major phase of our lives, we need somebody—something, anything to support us and believe in us, to understand our needs, and to help us learn how to help ourselves. My training shifted my mindset from feeling lost to thinking, “yes, I know where I am and I will not lose hope.”

Photo Credit: Education For Employment (EFE)

The training was short but intensive, lasting from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. over 10 days. When it was over and EFE set me up with an interview at the Eithar Insurance Agency, one of the biggest insurance agencies in Palestine, it turned out to be perfect—I got the job. During the training I had learned how to market myself and how to answer challenging questions, so when I arrived for my interview I was confident and ready.
 
Now, in my day-to-day role, knowing how to work well with my employer and other employees gives me high self-esteem and confidence. The company is so wonderful—I meet many new people within and outside of the company and I am able to build relationships of trust with my clients. And since it is an insurance agency, I am providing services to the community, which really makes me see myself as productive. If I didn’t have this job, I don’t feel as though I would be ready to give to people, to draw a smile, to give hope, and to spread the happiness and positive energy that I am able to now.

Photo Credit: NISREEN MITWALLY

I’m also studying Hebrew, which is useful for my job. I am also learning so much on the job, especially how to stay calm and handle challenging clients. I feel so good about myself when I am working, my life is balanced and I feel so powerful—I feel as though I have found myself. Without my job, I don’t believe that I could truly fulfill who I want to be, but now, I can help my family and others. We have a lot of expenses and I feel that I am useful and responsible.

I aim to continue my education up to the doctorate level, host a health-related TV show, and continue to be involved in my community. I will always remember the organization and the EFE trainer that believed in me. At this point, I feel that nothing is impossible and that nothing is out of my reach.