Working in the Middle East

Our second write up this week from the Global Careers Series comes from the event on working in the Middle East. If you missed the first post in our series, on working in South East Asia, no fear! You can find it right here. But here’s Melissa again with more….

We heard from an all-female panel who spoke of their experiences working in Syria and Palestine at some point in their careers. Topics of conversation included safety, language requirements, how to not only get your foot in the door but also to really stand out. Here’s a quick recap of who was on the panel:

Katherine Stiff, Senior Researcher at The Brunswick Group

Sara Masry, Middle East Analyst at Stroz Friedberg

Marieke Bosman, CEO of The Asfari Foundation

Emily Judson, Policy Officer, Middle East and North America at Universities UK International

Language? Check!

Language was a popular topic of conversation- improving or learning a language while on an internship can be really beneficial. While Katherine was in Palestine she learned Arabic. Her advice is to get involved- push yourself to try new things and talk with the local people, volunteer where you can, and make connections with organisations in your area.

You can start now, by using your university network. Talk with your friends in the language you are studying, listen to Youtube videos or podcasts to make an effort to learn some of the language in your every day life. There are lots of great resources online to help you with your language skills. And the Modern Languages Centre at King’s also holds workshops and classes you can enrol in.

Is not having the language a negative? Not necessarily! But if you do have language skills, you can let them guide the path you take in your career and they can be a real asset to the career path you take. Either way, it is an excellent skill to master.

How do you get your foot in the door?

Talk to people! Ask for tips and advice on how to live in this new culture. Be willing to try anything – it’s amazing what routes this will open up for you. Practical experience cannot be outweighed.

You are not stuck if you haven’t landed a job at the UN. Emily couldn’t afford to work without being paid – but this didn’t stop her. “Don’t let finances put you off, you have to get creative with the internships and experience you take part in.”

We are not interested in what you will get out of the job – but why we need you for the job!

You have to prove to the employer why they need you on their team – what is the benefit of hiring you over someone else?

Marieke looks for candidates who are flexible, willing to try anything and work hard. Find what’s important to them and learn about it.

Use the facilities available to you at your university

There are academic groups and societies that you take for granted during your years at uni. You don’t only have to do one thing – be curious! Katherine joined a Toastmasters club and sourced an internship from one of the people she met while at the meetings. Go to talks your university puts on – like the Global Careers Series – anything that interests you!

Don’t be afraid to follow up on your applications.

Being a female it might not be natural to be aggressive, but chances are that you aren’t putting yourself forward enough! Don’t obsess over your actions or be fearful about being assertive. Back yourself!

It’s important to pay attention to detail in your applications. Employers will notice right away if someone has not read and understood the question. In an interview make sure to say “I did this and it shows I have x skill and why x skill is important to the company”

Personal resilience and confidence – You got this.

Learn how to articulate your skills to employers. Don’t put yourself down, tell people what you can do! If you don’t, then no one will.

More information on working and living in the Middle East can be found here:

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