The Northwest Community College Initiative provides participants many opportunities to fill their resumes with skills and experience for future careers and opportunities after they receive their program certificate. From internships, to volunteering in the community and cultural experiences, the program’s goal is to equip participants with new skills, confidence and knowledge for their future. As current students gear up for their internships and the coming quarter, we followed-up with 2012 NWCCI alumnus Marwan Beshir for advice for students. Marwan studied Business Systems Analysis & Project Management at Edmonds Community College.
As part of the program requirements, NWCCI participants are expected to complete a specified number of volunteer hours. Marwan volunteered with Habitat for Humanity where he helped build homes for the homeless population. When asked about the experiences that he had on the program that left an impact on him, he shared a bit about volunteering a to help the local homeless population.
“I’ve seen many homeless people in my home country and spoke with them. I touched and felt their hardship, so that’s what motivated me to help those ones here in Seattle too. It was really a sunny and hot day, I sweated a lot while I was building. At those moments, I was thinking about those workers who do the same job every day in their life for getting just the minimum wage and I really felt so bad for them too. I believe that helping people will help me in appreciating what I have and be content about my life. Also, I believe that someday I’ll find other people who will help me when I’m in need. Few months later, Amanda sent us many pictures of the building after it was completed and thanked us for our help in making this happened. It was such a great feeling that I’ll never forget in my entire life when I saw that I was part of this. I’ll definitely do it again to always have that feeling. It’s great to give and don’t wait for something in return because this is all about being a human.”
Through volunteering we hope that students are able to give back to the community they live, and also share a bit about their culture with others. Volunteering opportunities are a way for students to also learn about community organizations and how they address issues. NWCCI participants are expected to complete a minimum of 45 volunteer hours during the program, a requirement which some go far beyond. Along with this requirement, participants complete an internship usually beginning in the spring quarter. Marwan utilized every aspect of the program’s requirements to gather skills relevant to his work interest. He explains:
“Getting my degree and certificates from EdCC with a 3.8 GPA made a great difference to land a job in my home country. Those certificates demonstrate not just that I’ve studied a topic, but also that I have the knowledge, skills, and hands on experience from my classes’ projects.
U.S. colleges and universities have a great reputation for their best quality of education system and ranked the top all over the world. This gave me a great creditability when I returned back to my home country and started to apply for jobs. Certificates are the fastest-growing qualification you can earn. Ultimately, getting one or two certificates will prove you’re capable of learning and retaining knowledge, and that you’re committed to a career path, well versed in it, and knowledgeable.
I think the real value is in the projects you complete during the course of these certificates – something to add to your profile that clearly says, ‘I did this and these are the problems I solved.’ Invaluable.”
Marwan completed his internship with the college’s IT department as a business systems analyst. This led to further positions as a business systems analyst for various companies in Egypt. He continues, “Actually, I have many accomplishments throughout my career, all the projects that I worked on, which I’m very proud of. But the most significant project and accomplishment among them all, is when I was working as a business analyst for Asfour Crystal, one of the major international manufacturers for the finest quality of transparent and colored Full lead crystal in the world(…)”
“The NWCCI program provided me the opportunity to earn two academic certificates and an associate degree that provided me an extensive knowledge in my career supported by a practical experience through an internship. Not only that, but it developed other different soft skills through the participation in many activities such as: community service and volunteering, team work, leadership, communications, English, time management, conflict resolution, and networking.”
We asked Marwan what he believes are keys to success in the program, and what he might recommend to current or incoming participants. He explains:
- Set SMART objectives and create “action plans/ items” for each goal they want to achieve. These action items must drive them to action—not simply be part of a “to do” list. Each action item should begin with a verb: “Attend every class” or “Get A’s in my classes”
- Plan strategically and tactically by breaking their big picture into smaller, doable increments.
- Recognize when help is needed. Sometimes they might not be able to accomplish their goals without help from other people or sources.
- Stop and reassess. About once a month, stop and reassess their action plans. Sometimes circumstances and variables change, and those changes can affect their goals.
- Review action plans regularly and be reminded of them frequently.
- Make sure to include timelines when applicable, and sync those timelines with their calendars to achieve the best results.
- Identify obstacles to success and determine how to eliminate or circumvent roadblocks.
- Sometimes improvement takes time and they may not be able to accomplish all the action items on their action plans. Aim for progress—rather for than for perfection—will allow them to maintain perspective, celebrate achievements, and continue persevering towards their goals.
- Have fun! Not all goals have to be academic. They can create action plans for relaxation and fun, too. This will help them to re-energize their spirit and proceed forward.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.