Rush-hour at Canary Wharf is not the best place to be when your legs are shaking with nerves.
But this is where I was on Tuesday, holding a sign telling my story in 20 words. Why? I wanted to get noticed by one of the hundreds of people rushing on their way to work around me. My sign simply read: “Came as a refugee, just graduated from UCL in ROCKET SCIENCE. Looking for a career in finance. Ask for CV.”
Okay, technically my Masters is in Space Engineering - but everyone knows “rocket science” sounds cooler.
I had no idea when Mary from the International Rescue Committee approached me and asked if she could tweet my photo that thousands of people would get behind me and retweet it. My friends were texting me saying “you’re trending!” - it’s pretty overwhelming.
Mary’s been contacted by over 200 people asking for my CV and I’ve now had two offers for interviews at banks. I’ve had so many emails from some of the worlds’ largest financial institutions encouraging me and requesting my CV. It’s incredible what can happen when people get behind you and give you a chance.
Since finishing my undergraduate degree, I’ve applied for over 70 jobs but I’ve been finding it difficult to make my CV stand out without experience and good contacts. I kept hearing nothing back - I knew that if I could just get in front of them I’d do well.
The idea of standing outside with the sign came from a picture I saw of a man called David Casarez who did the same in Silicon Valley. He ended up being approached by a lot of companies. I decided to put my suit on and try my luck - hoping that maybe one executive in the City would stop to give me advice or perhaps an interview.
A job in finance would be ideal for me because I’m fascinated in the way that world events can drastically affect financial markets. I’m particularly interested in using Artificial Intelligence and my Space Engineering degree has given me the experience coding. Now I want to apply these skills to the financial sector.
My mum instilled the importance of education from a young age and has supported and encouraged my siblings and I every step of the way. We came to the UK when I was three years old after fleeing Libya. My family were being persecuted. My brothers, sisters and I are all first generation university graduates and students. We know how lucky we’ve been to have the opportunity of a good education and we’ve made the most of it.
All of my friends are refugees and we’re all university graduates in areas like medicine, engineering and science. It’s down to hard work, grit and our parents’ belief in education. I keep thinking about when I received my A-level results four years ago, and what a journey I’ve been on since. I’m a mentor for students at my old school, and I hope that the pupils there receiving their A-level results today know that opportunities are there to be made and that life is what you make it.
I’ve set up a Twitter account @GetMohamedAJob. If there are any employers out there who think I’d be a good fit - get in touch!