YOUTH IN FOCUS: AN INTERVIEW WITH AMAL Khdeer
What made you apply for the STEP! program?
This is my third session volunteering at TYO. Initially, I joined the program because I wanted to gain work experience in order to enhance my CV. This continues to be a motivating factor for returning to TYO. Additionally, I heard that native English speaking interns come to TYO and I saw this as an opportunity to practice and improve my English skills. Beyond improving my hard skills, ultimately I find the volunteer program at TYO to be extremely rewarding. I was surprised, as I'd never considered working as a teacher- even thinking it was a professional I'd hate- but through my experience at TYO I've learned I actually really enjoy working with children and am now encouraged to seek teaching opportunities for work.
What new skills have your learned through the program?
The most important thing I've learned is patience. Previously I thought that I would be skilled working under pressure, but after joining TYO I found that this was not the case as I struggled in stressful situations. I immediately saw this as something I needed to work on and feel I've greatly improved my stress management skills, improving my ability to work under pressure. I've also improved my time management skills. When I was a student I tried scheduling my first class at 10:00am so I could sleep in, however once I started volunteering at TYO, I adjusted my schedule to wake up at 5 AM as I am a bus monitor and need to arrive at TYO early. Beyond needing to wake up early, TYO's strict rotation system has taught me the importance of managing my time in classes, as any delay in the schedule would ruin the entire rotation for other teachers as well.
What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?
I’m planning to begin a Masters program next semester and I’m applying for many jobs in the field of Business Management. TYO has helped me to develop my English language skills, which is very important as all of the jobs I've been applying to require English skills. Additionally, the extra job readiness training sessions TYO offered last session were really helpful. I had an interview after receiving the job interview training and was very confident in my responses. The public speaking training was also very helpful and enabled me to improve my skills in this area.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?
I think the biggest challenge is the general lack of job readiness skills of recent graduates. The universities do not do a good job of preparing graduates for the labor market. For example, I spent four years at my university only developing academic knowledge without any practice application. I was shocked when I began applying for jobs to learn that the knowledge I gained at university was in no way directly applicable to the job market. I think that the universities should think seriously this gap and focus on preparing students for real life.
-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda
This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF).