Youth in Focus: An interview with Walaa Qasqas

Walaa Qasqas is from Sebastia, Palestine. She is a third-year student at Al-Quds Open University, majoring in Health Management. TYO volunteer Wala assists children with their assignment

 What made you apply for STEP?!

My sister was a volunteer at TYO and told me about the program. She had mentioned how much she benefited from the experience she received at TYO, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to better my skills and prepare for the job market. More specifically, I’ve struggled with self-confidence and communication skills and know this is definitely an area I need to improve if I want to be successful in my career. As I heard TYO offers communication training seminars, I thought this was definitely the right opportunity for me.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

The most important thing I’ve learned is communication and team building skills. The various optional skills training seminars offered throughout the session really helped me to identify areas I need improvement. This session, I plan to focus on improving my leadership skills. Based on my initial meetings with my Core Teacher, I think he will be a strong mentor and help me to improve my skills. TYO has also helped me become more comfortable working in diverse settings. As a woman from such a conservative community like Nablus, I had not previously worked with men. So initially when I began volunteering at TYO I was a little bit nervous and not comfortable dealing with them. However, given the positive experience I had volunteering with TYO last session, I am much more confident in my abilities.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

It is my goal to be a manager at a hospital. TYO is helping me to move towards that goal by giving me the professional foundation I’ll need to succeed in the workplace. A successful manager must be a good communicator, strong leader, and have confidence- all skills TYO has been equipping me with. I recently applied for a position to train at An-Najah Hospital and I know I wouldn’t have applied without the self-confidence I got after joining TYO. In fact, I find the supplementary professional skills I’m developing at TYO to be so useful that I’d been considering postponing a session at the university to fit TYO’s schedule so I would be able to volunteer.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

I think the biggest challenge for today’s Palestinian youth entering the job market is that there are not many job opportunities. There are many people graduating from the same fields, all after only a handful of jobs- this creates a lot of competition. I hope by working on my skills- outside academics- to become a more well-rounded candidate and have a better chance of getting a job when I graduate.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF).