“I’ll be making waves” – We speak to the ‘Refugee Rocket Scientist’ who went viral

Sep 6, 2018 | Arrival Network, Careers Advice, Talent

We sat down for a quick Q&A with the 22-year-old refugee whose story of determination got noticed when #GetMohamedAJob  went viral on Twitter in August 2018.
Refusing to be disheartened by the results of his job hunting, Mohamed Elbarkey took the initiative to step up his game. In doing so, he caught the eye of Mary Engleheart, Digital Manager at International Rescue Committee, whose tweet about him went viral.

Mohamed is a member of our Arrival Network young professionals network. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Mohamed and share his inspirational outlook with other young professionals.

How did it feel to go viral?

Pretty overwhelming, it’s hard to appreciate how wide spread its become, but my family in Libya found out by seeing my face on TV so that really showed me how viral it became.

And what about being tweeted about by Richard Branson?

Incredible! When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. He even recommended I’d apply for Virgin Galactic! Imagine I apply for Virgin Galactic and under the referral section, I say Richard Branson personally told me to apply.

What was life like before your post went viral?

I was really worried that September would come and I would have nothing to show for my 2 degrees. My mental health really suffered with this realisation, and it drove me to take responsibility and not accept my circumstances. That’s why I went to Canary Wharf that day, it was either that, or I wouldn’t be able to pay rent or support my family.

How do you think corporate recruiters viewed your actions?

I think corporate recruiters saw the drive and determination in me and wanted to reach out because they believed I can contribute to their organisation.

What barriers do you feel there are to get into corporate jobs?

I think many people try the official routes into corporate jobs and sometimes they work. But what I’ve learned over the past 2 weeks is it’s not what you know but who you know. There’s 200 people on the same graduate course at university, all have similar experience. Recruiters like familiarity.

What would you like to say to business leaders and recruiters of corporations about young professionals from non-traditional backgrounds?

I think theres a lot of value in recruiting someone from non-traditional backgrounds. Not only can they offer a different perspective, but the grit that a lot of those types of people have is hard to come by.

How did you hear about Arrival Education?

Daniel Snell [Director and Founder of Arrival Education] reached out to me and told me about the organisation. I really resonated with their mission, and I thought Id love to sign up to the Arrival Network.

How has working with Dan helped?

Dan has been amazing with connecting me to the decision makers of organisations. He’s done so much for me and I’m grateful for his efforts.

How do you think your life experiences will benefit you in the working world?

To know that whatever the circumstance, I’ll handle it. I think I’m capable of enduring much more than the average person because of my experiences.

What advice would you give someone from a non-traditional background struggling to get into a corporate career?

I would say the first thing is to network. I was told to network when I was in first year but I never believed. Networking is so important and this advice needs to be taken.

Follow Mohamed’s advice! Join our network of young professionals on LinkedIn.

With hindsight, what would you have changed about your experience, if anything?

Nothing. This is the best case scenario for me.

How does the future look for you now compared to a year ago?

My life has changed completely. I’m ready to conquer the corporate world and, in a few years time, I’ll be making waves.

What inspired you to take such a unique approach to your job search?

Two things:

  1. I was determined to get a job I was happy with. This meant I’d have to take extreme measures to make it happen.
  2. I was taught to always take inspiration from others before you. If it worked for someone, it’ll work for you. A man named David Casarez did the same stunt in silicon valley and was inundated with job offers. All I needed was one offer I was happy with.

Connect with Mohamed on LinkedIn

We asked Dan what he had to say about Mohamed’s situation:

“How is it that organisations say they can’t hire diverse young talent when there are graduates like Mohamed who have a great degree from a leading university, want a career in finance and walking around Canary Wharf with a placard?

 

“Mohamed is a such a nice guy, and so ambitious and capable. He just didn’t have the knowledge to navigate the corporate recruitment process. We work with so many young people like him, who have so much to offer but can’t get on the radar of corporations who want to or need to hire young talent like them.”

 

How does Arrival Education help young professionals like Mohamed get into the corporate world?

Since our start in 2006, we have worked with thousands of switched on, ambitious young professionals from socially deprived and ethnically diverse backgrounds. We specialise in giving diverse talent:

  • access to genuine insights and knowledge from leading businesses
  • the tools to become Success Ready
  • opportunities for 1-to-1 coaching from business leaders
  • access to internships, graduate schemes and job opportunities

We have run a number of programmes that give young professionals skills and know-how through coaching and workshops, and access to business leaders, internships and job opportunities. Join the Arrival Network on LinkedIn or contact our Talent Team for more information.

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