The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and unsurprisingly, many young people might find themselves feeling lost or unfocused. Well, cheer up young lost souls, because Ranya Shalaby, Business Development Director of INJAZ Egypt (Part of INJAZ Al-Arab) and Director for Stewardship and Donor Relations at The American University in Cairo (AUC), has some wisdom-jewels and mic-drops to share this week as our career guru.
Ranya is a major force to be reckoned with on the Egyptian business, development and education stages. With many years spent on youth and development-focused projects, she frequently interacts with young people and young entrepreneurs in her line of work, helping to support their initiatives and social/economic development. HireHunt reached out to Shalaby to ask her about any advice that she may have for fresh grads just starting out in the workspace, that would help them through the beginning of their journey.
How do fresh grads build confidence in their skills and fields?
The best way for fresh grads to build confidence in their skills is to test them, a lot. I always encourage students, at all levels, to take part in projects, extracurricular activities, courses beyond their majors, competitions – every opportunity to develop and sharpen your skills. In this way, they can begin to identify their strengths and, as importantly, their passion.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now for people who are entering the workforce?
The job market is extremely competitive, everywhere. An excellent grade point average and academic record are no longer an immediate guarantee of success. Students, while they are studying, need to differentiate themselves by going beyond the academic curriculum to impress potential employers and secure a place in the workforce, which is becoming increasingly difficult. Additionally, it is likely that, in our lifetime, automation is going to replace so many existing jobs, making it that much harder for people to find a place for themselves in the job market.
“Students need to differentiate themselves by going beyond the academic curriculum to impress potential employers and secure a place in the workforce.”
How is being a female job seeker in Egypt different than being a female job seeker in the west?
Many women in Middle Eastern societies lack the self-confidence and assertive attitude required to move up in business. We tend to shy away from demanding our rights, pushing for promotions or discussing salaries – these are still taboo subjects. We too-often opt to passively take what is given to us. Thankfully, I am noticing this trend is beginning to wane, especially among the younger, more dynamic generation of Egyptian female employees and entrepreneurs.
What is a bad reason/motivation for wanting a job?
In my opinion, being motivated by status or title is weak motivation for wanting a job. We all want to secure a steady income and work in an environment that is productive and creative and has a guaranteed career track, however many people stifle their own abilities and passions focusing on status or title. It becomes their identity. And this is extremely dangerous.
What are some things that the education system could do to better prepare students for the professional world?
Formal education does not entirely ready students for the workforce because it lacks work readiness, entrepreneurship and business education. The global programs INJAZ offers students, at all levels, supplement their skill set needs and focus on work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy – which are the cornerstones to success in the workforce in any industry.
Do you think the traditional format of CVs will carry on, or will they become obsolete?
I think CVs are already being replaced by our online profiles, and that will continue. I expect very soon that new platforms will emerge that will aggregate all our online information into one place where employers can view our academic history, awards and achievements, social interaction, family status and more.
How do you ‘start’ a career? As in; what should people who are just starting in their career focus on or do to achieve their long-term goals?
The answer to that question is different for everyone. Some very focused people can identify their long-term goals early on, which makes it easier to define their success. Others, most of us, just jump right into work and take it as it goes, learning along the way – which isn’t wrong. Somewhere along the way, it is crucial to define your values and purpose – What are you good at? What do you want to do? What value do you want to add to the world? What do you consider a successful life? Those questions keep you focused and driven. And the thing to keep in mind along the way is that it’s never a straight path – and that’s the exciting part of life: those surprises. My recommendation would be to embrace change, always seek to know more and do better, and learn from those ahead of you.