I am Ibrahim Sobhi, 24 years old, born in a city in the middle delta of Egypt called ElSanta.
I have 4 sisters and I am the eldest one of them. In Egypt to be the eldest means you are the hope of good family in the future, so my parents devoted themselves to give me a good upbringing. My parents grown up with modest backgrounds, but they were lucky to get a good education and get a job; my father is working a math teacher for a secondary school and my mother is working as science teacher for preparatory schools. They encouraged and motivated me a lot during my studies, I have dreamed of being an engineer since I was a child.
My parents didn't trust public schools, so I studied at a private primary school. But when I finished, I had to continue my education in a public school because there were no private middle schools in my city at the time. I didn't feel like I was receiving a good education because I was studying material that didn't give any real benefits. I was forced to hire private tutors to prepare for secondary school. When I entered secondary school, it was the crucial moment to get a high score on the state test to join a top faculty. If I got a low score, I risked having a hard life with low paying jobs. I studied hard, and thanks to God, I joined the Faculty of Engineering at Alexandria University.
This was a new move for me and I was so excited to be studying Engineering as I had dreamed about! But after I began my studies, I was shocked by the difficulty. I had to spend a lot of time studying for the examinations, and like every other student at universities in Egypt, I was pressured to finish my studies quickly in order to graduate early and find a job. I graduated in 2011 with a grade of "good," but I soon discovered something was wrong. We were always studying, and doing school work, but we were not applying our time preparing for the job market. I was unprepared and extremely disappointed after graduation.
I had graduated after the January 25th revolution, so the economic conditions and political situation were not good. Soon I was unemployed for 7 months, trying to find a job through my relatives' connections and searching in newspapers, magazines and in the internet. Every day I searched, but every time I found many obstacles like lack of experience, and most job opportunities required candidates from technical backgrounds with at least a year of work.
While I was unemployed I helped out at my family's supermarket. I learned some selling skills, and how to persuade people to buy goods. I was obsessed with how to attract customers from your competitors. But all the time I had the feeling that I was wasting my time, I needed to continue my technical path. I was disappointed I didn't get a job after graduating, and a lot of my friends didn't also.
But one day I was faced with two choices. I had the option to move to Upper Egypt for a job, which was very far from my family and friends, but with a good salary after a training period. The second option was to apply for a scholarship with Education For Employment (EFE) | Egypt, with the opportunity to get a job afterwards. It was hard decision at that time, but I chose to join EFE and thank God it was the right decision. After interviewing with EFE, I was accepted and I started an intensive training for more than 2 months in a program called the Junior Professional Training Program (JPTP).
The training program was an entirely new experience for me. I enjoyed learning different job skills by role playing, talking to native English speakers, and studying new materials. EFE taught me how to write a resume, prepare for interviews, act professional in the workplace, negotiate with others, and use critical thinking skills. I learned a lot that affected day-to-day life and change for the better. EFE left a tangible fingerprint on my life. It all led to me finding a job after finishing my training with EFE.
I am working now as technical support advisor at RAYA Contact Center. Living in Cairo away from family and friends was not easy decision, but I have taken the first step to success in my life.
My life changed a lot after getting a job. Now I depend on myself, I have a lot of friends form workplace. Every day at work I improve different skills, such as time management, negotiations, and speaking fluently in English while handling different kinds of customers from different countries and trying to solve their problems, satisfy their needs, and make them happy. I feel happy when a customer thanks me.
Now I depend on myself, and I am able to take a lot of courses that help me and make better my career, I can help my family, and invest money in small projects. My parents are proud of me, and I have inspired my sisters to persevere.
I am looking forward to an even brighter future. I aspire to be an expert in the network and communication engineering field, and to be able to start my own business and help other people who haven't had access to a good education
Youth are full of enthusiasm, but we need opportunities to make real improvements. I see something special in every Egyptian youth. We are very motivated to make real change for the better, towards learning and towards an Egypt that we dream about, to be among prosperous countries.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Middle East and North Africa not-for-profit Education For Employment (EFE), in conjunction with the third anniversary of the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17, 2013. That event kicked off what has come to be known as "the Arab Spring" and brought the Arab youth unemployment crisis into the global spotlight. EFE's mission is "to create job opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East and North Africa." For more information about the Education For Employment, click here.