Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
This is the story of Azhair Ahmad, who migrated to USA, approximately 18 months ago. He did his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from University of Engineering & Technology Lahore – Pakistan and Masters in science in Mechanical Engineering from University of Engineering & Technology Taxila – Pakistan. I am sharing his story about how he got a job in USA solely based on his education and experience outside USA. The intent of this story is to describe a motivational story for those, who sometimes dishearten due to unfavorable series of events during their struggle. Those who migrate from other countries can easily imagine the difficulties and obstacles they face for settling, even when someone else is also available for assistance. In a similar fashion Azhair did face some problems, when he came to USA and the biggest of these was a degree of dependency on others.
He arrived in USA in March 2013 in Virginia and stayed with his uncle in-law.
In USA, local transportation system is expensive and relatively ineffective. He had never driven a vehicle in his life before. So, the first thing he had to learn was driving and obtaining a driving license. He arranged an old bicycle for his local transportation and started searching for an odd job and soon he got an opportunity in a pizza shop at $10 per hour. He used his bicycle to go to the pizza shop until he got his driving license in 20 days after obtaining a learning permit. His first objective was to become self-sufficient, which motivated him to overcome his hurdles. After obtaining his driving license, he bought an old car. Now he was able to become self-sufficient. He had a job in a pizza shop and a car for transportation. But this was not his final objective. This was only his most urgent and most important priority to become independent. His objective was to get a job in his own field of study and his experience. After working in the pizza shop for about 2 months, he realized that his earning from pizza shop was enough only for his own expenses. He has two sons, who are with his wife in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He realized that to support the family and save some money for job interviews, he had to take on another job. Meanwhile, he got an interview call in Houston-Texas. He took $469 loan from his acquaintance for fare and went to appear for the interview. Luckily, he got another job interview as well in Houston, during this same trip. He was happy to have two job interviews.
During his four day stay in Houston, he appeared for these interviews. In one of these interviews, he was asked for a follow up interview after two weeks. He did not receive any response from the second interview. He had to return his loan as well as save some money for his additional trip to Houston, in two weeks. This time he planned to permanently shift to Houston due to more job opportunities in his field of study, in this area. He talked to his acquaintances about another odd job opportunity. He was asked to work in a gasoline station $8 per hour, where he was required to sell wine and beer along with other eatables. He refused to sell wine and beer due to his religious obligations. As a result he was not able to get that job. Fortunately, he got another job in a gasoline station where a worker was on one month leave. There he got good hourly rate of about $13 with very easy work. In this way, he was able to manage both jobs, including his job in the pizza place. He started working on two jobs and emphasis to work more hours in gasoline station than pizza because of higher rate. In pizza shop, he was working around 30 hours per week. He was thinking about his savings because he did not want to take any more loans. He also had a plan to go to Houston in his own car as he was moving permanently. Everything was looking perfect and he was happy with all these advancements towards his objective. Two days before his plan to Houston, he decided to work 22 hours continuously on both jobs in order to save more money for the time of need. After completing his 8 hour shift in a gasoline station, he went to pizza shop for 6 hour work after which he had to go to gasoline station again for another 8 hours. Same day, he was given permission for pizza delivery in his own car. When he went for his very first pizza delivery, he got an accident while taking a U-turn. With this accident, his car was totally damaged and towed. He went to hospital and could not work for another 8 hours. Luckily, he survived with no major injury except neck pain. Medically, he was permitted for one day rest. In this accident, he was considered to be in fault as the other side car signal was green.
Now, the whole scenario was changed. He had a second interview call from the company in Houston but he did not have car. He also had to pay $350 to retrieve his car from the towing company. He did not have transportation to even go back to work. He did not have enough money to buy another car. He decided to go to Houston by air and stayed there in his community mosque. After reaching there, he appeared for the 2nd interview. With this interview, he was thinking that he would be granted the job. After one week he did not receive any response from the company. When he approached the company, they invited him for the 3rd interview with another executive director. His 3rd interview was not a formal interview; it was just about introduction to the company’s culture and business. He thought that he would be granted the job. He did not receive any response from the Company again although he approached the company couple of times. He was disappointed from the company response. He returned his loan from the pay check he received from his jobs and paid the fine. Now he had less than $500 in total. He did not have enough money to buy another car to go to any odd jobs. He also did not want to spend his money to buy a bicycle. He decided to search for an odd job in a walking distance. After couple of visits to different restaurants, gasoline stations and food outlets, he found a job in one of fast food chain outlets, as a cook with $7.50/hour. He had to walk 1-1/2 hour each way to work. At the start, he was given only 20 hours/week. He knew that he would not be able to keep up with this routine. But he had no way other than this because he had decided that he would not take any loans. He also had to leave the mosque where he was temporarily staying. He had to arrange his own rental place. During his stay there, he did not ask anyone even for a penny even when some people asked him about his needs, he denied. He also arranged his own food. He used to cook one dish and eat it for three weeks. This is all he could afford.
But, his faith was unshaken. He believed that the success of a person lies on the awareness he has about his weaknesses. He knew many of his weaknesses, including the fact that he was not fluent in English, had no professional references and no American education or experience, in his field. But, he knew that despite these weaknesses, he had a major strength that was his belief, in Almighty God. He did not see his weaknesses and limitations as excuses for his failure. He did believe that God shows miracles, when a person sincerely struggles to the best of his or her abilities. The final and favorable results are only God’s Will. When he came to USA, he started struggling to get information about how to get a job in USA. What he should do and what are the differences as compared to his own country. He talked with various people and shared his circumstances.
Some good pieces of advice were to make a professional profile on LinkedIn with necessary information and smart English and use actively; use job websites including indeed.com, monster.com etc. for job search, write down address on CV and LinkedIn profile where you are intending to get a job. Like, while searching for a job he came to know that most of his education and experience related jobs were in Houston-Texas, he put Houston address on his resume and on the LinkedIn profile rather where he was living. He was determined to not give up with the difficult situation but took it as a challenge. He devised his strategies to practice search on the internet about professional LinkedIn profiles, he viewed how successful people prepare their profiles, interview questions, ways to answer interview questions, interview techniques used in USA, and he revised his resume and LinkedIn profile and increased LinkedIn contacts and views. He prepared different resume that best match to different jobs. He did apply for any industry related job with the intention to just get into the industry. He applied for various jobs from helper to manager positions. In order to effectively apply for the job, he had to work to align his resume wording with job description in order to increase the chances to be considered for the interview. This was the first step towards getting interview calls. He knew that this is not the way to get a job because he also has to familiarize himself with interview requirements and strategies. He learned from his failed interviews and devised the ways how to tackle situations during interviews including how to answer interview questions like “Tell me about yourself”, interview STAR technique etc. He practiced interview questions and rehearsed them.
The above mentioned strategies and tactics he devised for himself in order to get a job. He believed that he would never be able to get an interview call, perform better during the interview and got a job without Allah’s blessings because he had seen His blessings and miracles like passing driving test within 20 days without having proper practice, no dependency, no loan at all even having big financial lose and observed people assisting him without he asked them for help etc. One day, he received a call from a recruiter where he did not apply for a job. She asked his work experience and interest for a Contract position. He showed his agreement and applied for this job in Old Castle Building Envelop in Houston Texas. After a few days he got an interview call from her. Due to unavailability of transport, he took a ride from his friend and went for the interview, arriving at the place two hours early. When he reached there, the Vice President called him for the interview, before schedule and asked some questions. He was nervous as he had reached early for the interview and could not perform to his satisfaction. Additionally, this job was not directly related to his education and experience but only a way to enter into the industry. After the interview, he was apprehensive that he would not get the job due to his interview performance. During those days, he also got a chance for a telephonic interview after which he was invited for the final interview, in the company DTE Energy. This was his only real hope at this time.
If he did not get a job, he had to continue to work in the fast food outlet and arrange his own place for living. He continued to pray earnestly to Allah about his plight and his dire needs.
Allah out of His sheer mercy, bestowed both these jobs with DTE Energy and Old Castle Building Envelop. Now, the scenario was completely changed. He had to decide which one he should accept. He accepted the job with DTE Energy, as it was related to his education and experience and they were also paying better. This company is one of fortune 500 companies.
Now, the problem was to have a transport for job. Allah also resolved his problem with the relocation bonus he received from his employer and he financed a new car.
In summary, although he learned a lot from his experience and tried so many different strategies, he continues to have a firm belief that he got his final job with the fortune 500 company, only because of Allah’s special blessings.