Graduating from university - after years of sleepless nights, crazy schedules and caffeine overdoses - feels like a great achievement ... until the "real world" hits you.
If you live in the Arab world, you know exactly what we're talking about.
From deciding on a field to specialize in and finding suitable work opportunities, to dealing with societal norms and expectations, a number of struggles arise while kick-starting your career.
Here are some challenges you might encounter as an Arab fresh graduate:
1. The root of all evil: Wasta
While having connections can go a long way anywhere in the world, the Arab job market is often plagued by blatant nepotism.
Many Arab job-seekers struggle to find positions that match their qualifications simply because they do not have friends or relatives with connections in their respective fields.
This makes the job-hunting process extremely discouraging, especially when less qualified candidates get hired for reasons that have almost nothing to do with their résumés.
2. To move abroad or to stay home? That is the question
With the limited satisfactory work opportunities in many Arab countries, you might find yourself constantly torn between moving abroad for a decent job - away from friends and family - or settling for a low-paying job in your home country.
3. Unprofessional employers make the job hunt all the more dreadful
"- We now have your CV and phone number, so we will definitely contact you and give you feedback within a couple of days.
- Lies, lies."
From the ones who take forever to reply, to those who leave you hanging after an interview, and those who ignore your requests for constructive feedback after rejecting you, some employers can make the job hunt rather excruciating.
4. As if things weren't tough enough already, you have to deal with societal expectations
As soon as you graduate, you are expected to have your entire life together and, of course, you should be well on your way to getting married ... because what's the point of your academic and professional achievements if you're single?
Society also dictates some dos and don'ts in the professional field, pressuring you into limiting yourself to mainstream and traditional opportunities rather than thinking outside the box and dreaming big.
5. Lack of career orientation
You were moving on autopilot throughout your undergraduate studies, working to complete day-to-day tasks and assignments.
But come graduation, you're bombarded with serious decisions about what to do next, especially if you're in a field with various specialties to choose from.
This is majorly due to the lack of career orientation that leaves many students and graduates unable to make firm decisions in their professional lives.
6. You are encouraged to play it safe rather than become an entrepreneur
You are often taught to play it safe and encouraged to get employed in standard jobs, rather than take risks and start your own business.
You are also often encouraged to seek positions at well-established companies and are told to steer clear from working with startups, despite the fact that the latter may have potential for growth.
However, this mindset has been progressing in recent years, with more and more young Arabs challenging the mainstream and launching their own projects. As a result, the region's startup scene is flourishing with business-oriented technophiles, entrepreneurs, and untapped potential like never before.
7. Little to no work experience
With Arab university students rarely encouraged to seek jobs while studying, unless they are in financial need, most fresh graduates lack work experience and therefore struggle to find suitable opportunities after graduating.
8. Poor self-promotion and negotiation skills
You are expected to feel grateful to have been offered an opportunity, so you sometimes feel obligated to "play nice" in hopes of securing an offer, even if it means settling for less than what you deserve.
This comes as many Arab fresh graduates suffer from poor self-image, failing to properly represent themselves, highlight their strengths, and negotiate offers in their favor.
This also means that after hiring fresh graduates, some employers take the former for granted and expect them to agree with unjust work conditions, such as working overtime and on days off without compensation.