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Success Story: Samira AlHamwi

samira alhamwi
Coming to Chicago in 2016, Samira found herself struggling to adjust to life in America. Samira proudly holds a Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology and a Pharmacy Technician License in Syria. She studied English in Syria, but struggled to understand it here, due to the difference in accents. Samira’s will to overcome her struggles led her to Truman College, where she took healthcare and English classes. She successfully completed all eight levels of English the school offered. “I felt my English improved,” Samira recalled.

Soon after, Samira began her search for employment. She created her first resume and applied for an employment opportunity she had found on Indeed. Job searching was totally new to her, and she was in need of work experience here in the U.S. “In the beginning I didn’t know how to get a job,” Samira recalled. “Everywhere I looked for a job, they asked me about my work experience in the United States. When I applied to pharmacies that had vacancies, they refused to hire me because I had no work experience here.”

She took the initiative to obtain work experience by babysitting for her neighbors, teaching Arabic to an American family, and volunteering at public and private schools. Through the Syrian Community Network, Samira learned about Instituto’s Retail Career Pathway program and enrolled in the Customer Service and Sales class in July 2019.

When Samira applied for a position at a school, her interview skills were put to the test. One of the schools she applied to scheduled her for an interview. “This was my first interview ever. I didn’t know how to act or respond and it didn’t go very well,” recalled Samira. “I felt uncomfortable and unprepared to interview for a job here in America.”

The day after her interview, Samira spoke with her instructor, Rebecca Zeman, about her interview. After Samira shared her experience, Rebecca helped her prepare for her next interview by explaining to her that she needed to talk about her professional accomplishments, what expertise she could bring to the school, and her experience working with children. Rebecca also helped Samira practice through mock interviewing to build her confidence for her next interview. “When I went to my next interview, I felt confident and was able to answer all the questions. It went well,” recalled Samira. “I was then called for a second interview where they would see me interact with the children. Then, they offered me the job!”

Samira is currently living a successful life as a mother while working a full-time job! She is an inspiration to all refugee women; she is dedicated to her studies and is always determined to overcome any obstacle that she comes across. Samira truly embodies the spirit of Instituto.