Navigating the Egyptian Job Market

I recently quit my job in pursuit of a different career path. We are taught in “Job-Hunting 101” that you should never quit your job unless you’ve secured another position or opportunity in its place, and I followed these instructions with particular care. As I’ve just mentioned in my topic sentence, I quit to purse a different path: education. The plan was that I begin a graduate program at the start of the new academic year (September), however this plan crumbled due to forces that were beyond my control. As a result I had to withdraw my acceptance and start looking for a new job. But in a country like Egypt this is one of the worst sentences you ever want to hear, let alone utter.

Ask any fresh graduate or unemployed 20-somthing year old and they will recite their tales of woes about the treacherous job market, especially if that poor soul holds a degree in the arts, the humanities, social sciences like me.  While youth unemployment has become a global epidemic, the situation in Egypt grows bleaker ever year. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any jobs in a city (Greater Cairo where I live) of over twenty million residents, the problem is vastly more complex.

Looking for a White Collar Job in Cairo:

Most Required Majors (seriously most by far): Business, Marketing, Mass Communication, Finance, Accounting, Economics, Computer Science, Computer and Electrical Engineering. [Job-specific majors, like medicine, are not included]


The majority of jobs in Cairo are corporate jobs. While I have nothing against corporations, not every single graduate wants to work in business.

Location & Transportation: to say that transportation in Cairo is an inconvenience is like saying that childbirth is a mild discomfort. Whether you have a car or commute using public transport, you will find the experience irritating at best and entirely intolerable at five. Between the traffic, the increase in oil prices, the lack of parking (it has been a running gag for years) and the sheer size of Cairo (including the suburbs), transportation is a real obstacle when looking for employment. While some are willing to sacrifice time, effort and money because they are desperate for a job, many can not.

Take it from someone who spent twenty years in long commutes: 2-4 hrs each day  depending on traffic, and on very rare occasions it took even longer.

Salary (the monster in the room): Low salaries or salaries that cannot cover one’s expenses are the norm across the country, particularly when you’re just starting. Employers assume that because unemployment is rampant that people would accept any salary however low, and most people do. But some employers take this to an extreme, including those who don’t provide employees with formal contracts, others who think that employees shouldn’t be compensated for over-time or for running company-related errands, and so on and so forth. This kind of mistreatment has a detrimental effect on the employees psychological well-being and the quality of the work he/she produces (very common problem).

Lack of Variety (finding the right job): like I’ve mentioned above, it’s all about corporate jobs. Why? Because they’re the most stable, with the most reasonable salary-schemes. And when you live in a country with an unstable economy, you need a stable income. But if you’re not interested in a corporate job, well then you’ll face a serious struggle.

Now that I’ve provided my own amateur assessment of the Egyptian job-market, based on personal experiences, please let me know if you have any career-related opinions in the comments below. And while this article is country-specific, some of these issues are universal, so don’t shy away from commenting just because you live in another country or region. 🙂


Today I was thinking about the difference between being liberal and being liberated. Intense concepts to tackle this early in the morning, but seriously I had nothing better to do so my mind simply wandered off. Thus, I came to the following conclusion: liberalism is a belief system, a philosophy and a political view. Liberated, on the other hand, is a life style. Aren’t they in a way synonymous, you might ask? My answer is no.

A liberal view of life refers to what you believe in in terms of norms and values; the anti-conservative. That doesn’t necessarily mean you strictly abide by said rules and values in your everyday life. After all, fear can be a particularly strong emotion, and conformity a desirable uncomplicated goal. Liberation, however, is for the strong of heart and will, the fearless and the visionary. For one to become liberated he/she has to have the courage to say fuck you.

Fuck you to personal fears, fuck you to political oppression and fuck you to societal expectations. By stripping away all that is not yours; all that which you don’t believe in, and therefore deem unnecessary, only then will you become liberated.

“Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery.”  – Wayne Dyer

It seems simple enough to claim not to give a damn about all which was stated above. However the reality is, in fact, not simple at all. Because in order to unshackle yourself from the oppressive forces which are dictating your life, you have to have a goal of what you will do once they are gone and how. Otherwise, you will find that you are enslaved by an even stronger force: uncertainty.

To those who wish to be liberated I say; do that which scares you until it scares you no more. Draw the path you wish to lead, and follow it no matter the consequences. And know that this life will only come once, so make the most of it because for some it is much shorter than for others.

Concentration Catastrophe

 I have suffered from a short concentration span my entire life. I am unable to focus for prolonged periods of time and my mind goes foggy on a regular basis, particularly when I’m talked to directly. The situation is aggravated when I’m stressed or under pressure, because it leads to physical symptoms. I am currently experiencing these physical symptoms; i.e. I have a migraine.

 It is highly unpleasant when you’re trying to work, even worse when you are required to work, but are incapable of performing your tasks because your mind is shutting down. It becomes exceedingly frustration when the more you try to concentrate the more difficult it is to succeed. As the pain descends from my brain to my eyes, my eyelids start drooping and I slowly loose the battle against my mind. While one might blame such a situation on sleep deprivation, the truth has more to do with lack of concentration. 

Even though distractions contribute negatively to my situation, they are sometimes required to ease it. Remaining seated for a long time is usually exhausting, for it forces me to focus on a single task. A notion I find tedious if not excruciating. There are very few occasions where I can stay seated and remain attentive, unfortunately these occasions almost never take place at work/school. As a result I wander around with less than half of a focused mind, while the rest strolls in daydream-land. 

Finding Yourself

“I can’t find myself”. “I don’t know what I want to be”. Clichés. Sentences said by many young people after they graduate from school and college. But the reason why they’re clichés is because they’re true. Some people know, they just know, what they’re supposed to be. They don’t let anyone or anything stand in their way. While others struggle to find their place in the world, literally and figuratively, they wander aimlessly through life. Some of these wanderers may have an ultimate goal, but are taking a longer time to reach it. Others have no goals and no ideas of their true purpose in life. I pity those people.

I thankfully have a broad idea of where I would like my life to end-up. But taking that road is the truly difficult part. I don’t want a traditional life. I don’t dream of sitting on a desk for eight hours punching in numbers and getting a paycheck in the end of the month. That would kill me. I hope for some adventure. I would like to explore the world. And write.

I was asked once whether or not I would want a career. That depends on how you define the word career. If you are referring to a climb on the corporate ladder, which would inflate my bank account and suck years out of my life, then no. But if you are talking about growing in a specific field and succeeding in it, whatever it may be and however much it may pay, then yes. I would like some resemblance of a career. Most importantly though, I want a life!

Time Heals All Wounds

Time heals all wounds. I don’t entirely agree with that statement. The way I see it, time merely acts as a numbing agent. It only helps people temporarily forget or more accurately get distracted so their pains just linger in the back of their minds rather than take over their lives. Healing a wound requires completely cleaning and closing it; resolving the issue or getting closure. Time doesn’t give you that; it just clouds the issue in the hopes that one day it might be forgotten.

Time is a tricky concept. For as time passes it becomes a pain in itself. I won’t generalize and say that is the case with everyone, but it is in some. As days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months and months turn into years, you find that time is not your friend. Because when you are caught up in the trivialities of life, time just races by not giving you a chance to stop and think. However stopping means you would have to look back and assess the past. This past might be filled with regrets, heartaches or tragedies of any kind or worse it might be empty.

The thing is time will never set the past straight. And the more time that passes the more complicated a situation can become. The real problem is that you can’t turn back time. History may repeat itself, but the past will always remain in the past. Once a moment has passed its gone forever, the question is how will you let it pass? Will you seize the moment or just waste it away?

Inner Conflict

This topic is very broad and complex and shouldn’t be taken lightly, however my discussion of it is more personal. I am not a conservative person, nor have I ever been, but unfortunately I live in a highly conservative society. The way I was brought up, conflicts with my own views as well as the shared views of the society. I won’t go into detail, but what you need to know is that has led to an inner struggle; a struggle that I’m having a hard time overcome and that is consuming.

Freud claims that people internalize societal values that repress them. That the true source of repression is external, but internalizing it is the way to insure its effectiveness. I happen to agree with that notion. People imprison themselves within themselves, because of values they may not even believe in. This guilt eats away at a person, leaving them hollow. This form of socialization results in generations of blinded people; people who don’t understand the real meaning of what they have been taught until they start questioning it, and by then it’s usually too late. Altering a person’s belief system takes great effort and convincing, however it happens quite often. This brainwashing procedure turns people into ghosts; nameless, faceless beings that are worth nothing. But what I’m talking about isn’t that, what I’m saying is to teach people and have them think for themselves that is what’s difficult.

Questioning beliefs, values and customs is really what inner conflict is about. But that is seen even more, when the values of different cultures start to blend with one another, when logic and rationality conflict with norms and customs; leaving a person torn. Blind faith is easy, believing without comprehending is simple. Analyzing what you were taught to believe isn’t. I hate when someone tells me that something is right or wrong without giving me a reason. It drives me crazy and I consider it an insult to my intelligence. Right and wrong are subjective. Even the worst crime of all is up for debate. Taking a person’s life intentionally is the worst thing anyone can possibly do, however killing a killer is not. That is just a basic example of what I’m trying to say. Thus nothing is concrete and nothing is eternal. Everything changes. But does that change leave people more lost, or does it provide answers? Should one be submissive to societal values and customs or challenge their beliefs and try to understand them? How far does choice really go? Does this fight come to an end?

Sometimes I wish I could just scream, in the hopes that it would bring me some relief!


Fear is one of the most powerful tools of manipulation and repression in existence. As any successful tyrant would know, the best way to control people is to make them afraid. There are two kinds of fear: external (mostly punishment: fines, prison…etc.) and internal. External fear is pretty straight forward and isn’t as effective as one would imagine. It’s when that external fear becomes internalized that it turns problematic. Because it’s the internal fear that truly represses and paralyzes a person. The fear that a person is socialized to believe in, the fear that is created through past experiences and the fear that a person forces on him/herself. No amount of external fear can ever be more powerful than that. The key to abuse fear is to make it a norm and to make a part of a person’s life.

But much like any other extreme emotion (love, hate, anger…etc.) fear is usually irrational. Fear of the unknown, of failure, of the future, of love, of rejection, of commitment, of getting hurt, of being alone, of people’s judgment, of taking risk…etc. none of them are sound reasons why a person would oppress themselves. However they all become obstacles that obstruct one’s life from moving forward. Why am I talking about this? Because I know a lot about internal fear, I would much rather not say how. It takes guts to confront your fears, but most people wonder if they should? The answer is: yes. That being said, even if one knows that; a lot of people are cowards and choose not to confront them.

Living in fear is not a life, no matter what people might say. In cultures where people are raised to believe that they need to live within rigid boundaries, fear is quite common. But when does fear become too much? There is a fine line between propriety and suffocation. My heart is racing and my hands continue to shake as I write this, not because of the words that I’m typing, but for reasons that I will not be discussing (and coffee).  Here’s my question to you: Is living in fear worth it?

Feel free to respond, this question is not entirely rhetorical.

Being Alone

Today I’m going to be completely honest with you; something I haven’t done before. Not to say that there wasn’t truth in my previous entries, but today I’ve decided to be more open. For most of my life I’ve felt that being alone was the worst thing in the world. However as I grew up, I came to realize that it might not be such a bad thing. When you’re alone no one can possibly hurt or disappoint you, but more importantly you can never hurt, disappoint or lose anyone. I know that loneliness leads to many psychological diseases; but there are times, when being alone is just easier.

I feel that I’ve been fucking up my own life. I’m usually quite organized, but when it comes to my personal life somehow I’ve managed to make one colossal mistake after the next. It’s possible that subconsciously I’ve been pushing people away on purpose. I’ve always been defensive, for reasons I won’t get into, and now I doing it for no reason. I’m being bitchy to my friends and family for the slightest irritation. Today I hurt a friend of mine and I don’t think he’ll forgive me. I crossed a line, it was unnecessary, idiotic and inexcusable but I did it anyway. I went out to dinner with two close friends and my sister. I was really looking forward to it and it was going great until that point. I was so frustrated and upset that I ended up leaving early. Being alone makes me secure, because I know that there is no one for me to disappoint, not even myself.


Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and change something? If you could change this one day or one incident, maybe not even drastically, your life would never be the same. Maybe you wanted to say goodbye to a person you lost, or reverse a mistake you knew you shouldn’t have made or cease an opportunity that you allowed to pass by.

I have had many chances in my life, and I’ll probably have many more. However I don’t always make use of those chances, I let them pass me by either out of fear, indifference at the time, or not seeing what is right in front of my eyes. Lately there have been a few of moments in my life I’ve been recalling and hoping for a different outcome. But obviously that can never happen; because once a moment has passed its passed forever.

For the past couple of days I’ve been replaying one particular memory over and over again. As if I’m trying both to hold on to it as well as change it. As if I’m forcing my mind to distort the memory, so it would appear the way I want it to appear. I’ve been holding on to one moment of spontaneity that made me feel so alive. I’m trying to recreate that feeling as well as alter the memory slightly. I didn’t take full advantage of a situation, on purpose and for a good reason, however every time I look back at it all I see is what I didn’t do. It irritates me that I’m obsessed by it and it irritates me even more that I didn’t seize that moment.

As I’m writing this, I can see the scene before my eyes. It’s taunting me, because I won’t be able to feel that way right now or anytime soon. So I keep replaying what I want to see and stopping before the part I regret. Don’t ask me what is that moment, how it made me feel or why is it significant. All these questions are irrelevant.  But I would like you to think of this, if there is one moment in your life you would like to relive which would it be? And have you ever felt the need to replay a certain memory in order to try and reconsider it?

On Education

Most of the decisions I’ve made regarding my education were made for the wrong reasons. Around the time you become a teenager, you are fed this notion that you have to take specific classes, in order to choose a major that will land you the best job; putting into consideration that the definition of a good job actually means a more lucrative job. I’m sorry to say I bought it, believing that the only way to get a “good” job is to have a “prestigious” major; regardless of what really makes you happy or what you’re truly passionate about.

As a freshman in college I chose the wrong major, which I then changed, due to this particular mind-set and I’ve regretted it ever since. It made me feel like a failure, not to mention it destroyed my grades and my self-esteem. This brings me to my second point: grades, the merit you are given for conforming to the traditional outlook on learning. Grades have become like a game to me. Each assignment is worth a certain percentage of my grade in a particular class, and all the classes added up make your overall grade, therefore each assignment is worth a certain number of points and the more points you achieve the higher your chances to make it to the next level. It has all turned into a game, the excessive need to earn grades, and to get a degree have overshadowed the real reason why one goes to college, to learn. Then again students don’t really choose what they want to learn.

It is true one chooses their major, supposedly based on their interests; however you don’t actually choose what to learn. I just watched a movie called Accepted, which is about a boy who gets rejected by every university he applies to, so he decides to create his own university. And in it, students are given the chance to create their own curriculum and choose what they what to learn. I realize of course that this is completely unorthodox and unfeasible, however learning something because you really want to learn it, is the only way it will actually be of any value to you.  I recently read a history book, because I wanted to read it, not because it was assigned to me or because I was required to read it, but because I really wanted to. I’m not particularly fond of sitting in a classroom while listening to someone talk about a topic I may not even be interested in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like learning. I love learning new things; I would just prefer doing it on my own terms.