Youth in Focus: An interview with Eyad Odeh

Eyad Odeh is from Salfeet. He is a third year student at An-Najah National University studying Law. Eyad leads a group of students in a trash collection activity

What made you apply for STEP!?

There were several reasons I opted to apply for STEP! I felt it would be a good opportunity to improve my personal and professional skills, particularly my communication skills as I knew I'd be working with a wide variety of people - both young children and foreigners. Additionally, I liked the idea of being able to help children in my community. I think it is important that young and able youth like myself direct their energy at causes that will improve their communities.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

Since joining the program I've improved my ability to work with both children and adults- varying my method of communication depending on who I'm speaking to. I've also developed my time management skills- an improvement that I've noticed has carried over to other facets of my life as I've become more organized. Through leading groups of children at TYO I've also improved my leadership and teamwork skills.  Regarding teamwork, it's particularly helpful that we work with the same group of students and volunteers throughout the session as this gives us the opportunity to learn how to collaborate effectively with our peers.

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

Though I haven't completely decided, I am considering an additional 2 years of law training so I can work as a lawyer, or I may continue my current work at the Department of Land and Real Estate, as I've been working there as a legal aide for the last 6 months. TYO has helped to bridge the gap between academic life and the real job market. The trainings we receive help to put our work as volunteers into perspective as to how we are impacting the community at large. Additionally, the professional development trainings at TYO have been really beneficial in preparing us for the job market.

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

I think the biggest challenge facing youth entering the labor market is that there is a big gap between academic life and the job market.  Recent graduates don't have the needed job skills since such skills are not addressed in studies. University is spent discussing theories and concepts, rather than teaching students hard skills that can be applied to the real world. This is why the volunteer opportunities are so important, as they provide one of the few chances for youth in Palestine to be exposed to real world activities before officially entering the workforce.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

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