Sarah, Get Into
Building on the skills she learned on the Get Into programme, Sarah has been able to switch sectors and kickstart her career. Less than a year after starting work, she was promoted to manage a team of ten.
After graduating from university, Sarah (23) struggled to find work using her genetic engineering degree, especially jobs with any chance of eventual promotion. So she widened her search.
‘One of the reasons for changing sector was that there weren’t any opportunities for progression,’ Sarah explains. ‘So I decided to look into something else and gain knowledge of other skills too.’
Sarah lives in Amman, Jordan. She describes how low starting wages across most sectors mean that career and salary progression is particularly important to young jobseekers there. ‘The minimum wage is very low so the first thing that every graduate thinks about is generating an income. They don’t think so much about the job itself, it’s the salary that’s the priority,’ she explains.
A pathway to work
When Sarah saw an advert for the Get Into Insurance programme on social media, she decided to give it a go. The Get Into programme is known in Jordan as ‘Tariqi’, meaning ‘journey’ in Arabic. Run by the Business Development Center (BDC) in partnership with Prince’s Trust International and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, Get Into trains up young people for entry-level jobs in particular sectors.
BDC consults with companies about the skills they are looking for in employees, and then builds a programme that blends this technical, sector-specific knowhow with general employability skills training, including a work placement.
When Sarah first started the programme, she was painfully shy. ‘I didn’t know how to speak to people who I didn’t know,’ she recalls. But the icebreaker activities helped her to overcome her nerves. After each game or activity, participants had to switch tables and introduce themselves again to the others on their table. Over the next 12 days, repeated practice helped build Sarah’s confidence about speaking to others, while the course content gave her a basic overview of the insurance sector.
‘Before, I didn’t know anything about insurance. Once I enrolled, I learned the technical skills and found out about the different types of insurance, like medical insurance, life insurance etc,’ Sarah remembers. ‘Once I’d finished the 12 days basic training, I then did my on-the-job training, and when they used all the technical terms I already knew what they were talking about. I worked very hard during the on-the-job training, and I realised I loved the insurance sector.’
As Sarah completed the programme, lockdown restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic were limiting face-to-face recruitment, so BDC brought together students and employers in a virtual recruitment fair.
Having practised mock interviews during her training, Sarah was well prepared. After some additional training on how to use Zoom, she did an online interview with a local insurance company, and was promptly offered a job as a customer services adviser – a role that involves speaking to others all day, every day.
Sarah was delighted. ‘I was very happy and excited to be offered the job,’ Sarah recalls, ‘I felt passionate about the sector and there was the chance to progress.’ Sarah also explains that, if she hits her targets, her job enables her to earn commission on top of her basic salary.
Sarah’s hard work and ambition have not gone unnoticed by her employer and, less than a year after starting, Sarah was promoted to Team Leader. She now manages ten new starters. The young woman who was once too shy to speak to strangers now confidently leads her daily team meeting, sets targets and guides her staff on how to handle calls.
‘I’m a good leader, even though I’m a new one,’ she says, with calm self-assurance.
In 2021, Sarah was named the Regional Winner for the Middle East and North Africa in the annual Prince’s Trust Global Awards. In May 2023, she was selected as one of five young people to represent Prince’s Trust International at the coronation of HM King Charles III.