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Refugee Rocket Scientist Lands Job After Canary Wharf Job Hunt Goes Viral

HuffPost UK logo HuffPost UK 10/09/2018 Steven Hopkins
a man holding a sign in front of a building: Mohamd Elbarkey © Mary Engleheart Mohamd Elbarkey

A former refugee with a rocket science degree who stood outside Canary Wharf station with a sign looking for work starts his new job tomorrow. 

Mohamed Elbarkey landed a job with Milamber Ventures, a specialist business incubator based in Marylebone, after his job search went viral in August. 

Pictures of the 22-year-old aerospace engineering graduate with a sign seeking work were widely shared on social media and led to him having 15-20 meetings with recruiters.

Elbarkey said he was offered a role by Milamber after three interviews, having earlier met with more than a dozen companies who offered him advice, mentorship and encouraged him to apply for their graduate programmes.

James Drace-Francis, Group Financial Officer at Milamber, wrote on Twitter: “Delighted to say that further to our conversations, Mohammed you’re hired!

“One of the very best on the phone and at interview, a super CV and just about all the key skills – not to mention a great fit with our needs.”

Elbarkey told the Evening Standard that his new job is “is exactly what I wanted” and encouraged other job seekers, especially those without networks, to think outside the box when trying to secure work. 

“I think especially people who might not have the network, I would suggest any creative method to get a job,” he said.

“I saw a couple of years ago, a guy bought an advertising place on a billboard saying I’ve used my last £500 on this billboard. Hire me. Something creative like that could go a long way in attracting attention from recruiters.”

Writing in a blog published earlier on HuffPost UK, Elbarkey further explained why he decided to take an alternative approach to job-hunting.

“The idea of standing outside with the sign came from a picture I saw of a man called David Casarez who did the same in Silicon Valley,” he wrote. “He ended up being approached by a lot of companies. I decided to put my suit on and try my luck - hoping that maybe one executive in the City would stop to give me advice or perhaps an interview.”

He continued: “A job in finance would be ideal for me because I’m fascinated in the way that world events can drastically affect financial markets.

“I’m particularly interested in using Artificial Intelligence and my Space Engineering degree has given me the experience coding. Now I want to apply these skills to the financial sector.”

Elbarkey, who came to the UK with his family as a refugee from Libya, had sent out over 70 job applications without success when he was spotted at Canary Wharf by Mary Engleheart.

Engleheart, who works for the International Rescue Committee, posted his picture on Twitter and asked her followers to help find him a job. 

The tweet has since had over 19,000 retweets and over 28,000 likes.

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