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Zied Dahmani Headshot

What University Doesn't Teach: Making Our Education Meaningful in Tunisia

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My name is Zied Dahmani. I am a Tunisian Civil Engineer. Actually, I am working with Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) in Qatar as a site civil engineer in Lusail Stadium Project for the Handball World Cup 2015.

I grew up in Ksar Hellal, a Tunisian city famous of her textile industry. Most of the people link their future with either the family business or to accomplish their studies in one of the fields related to textiles, so they do not face problems finding a job. Few are the families who believe in higher education in other fields. But my family was one of those.

My parents did a lot of sacrifices to keep me and my three brothers in focus in our studies. I cannot forget when my father, who is a teacher, borrowed money to fulfill our needs in the start of academic years. He believed that education is the only way that can lead someone to success based on himself. He was always reminding me that my education will count only for me, none for anyone else.

My mother, who is a nurse, was always saying that she sees her success in my success because I am the elder son so my brothers will follow me. Until now, my parents still do their sacrifices for my brothers so they keep studying and get their engineering degrees. Hopefully, now I can help my family since I get a job which is a big adventure to have it.

Since my earlier age, I was focusing to be the best I can be in anything I do or I have. I started working in summer holidays since the age of 12 years, so I could save money to help me in my academic needs, and also I get the meaning of working, being responsible. I always believed and still believing in it: Say NO to impossible. This is my key of success.

I believed that my success depends only on me, as my father taught me. But the first time I doubted it was just after getting my engineering diploma. I thought that being a civil engineer with excellent marks will open all the doors for me, and any company I apply for it, will welcome me direct. Unfortunately, this was my first disappointment in my life.

In Tunisia, either you accept the low wages they give, or you must have a connection to get a suitable job that keeps you away from financial deficiency. Nowadays, finding a suitable job that can improve your financial situation is more than hard. I know many junior employees that still ask money from their families to spend it on things related to their jobs, since their wages cannot fulfill their needs.

I kept applying for job offers, I got some interviews, and the answer was always "We will call you." After four months of hard time, one of my friends sent me the offer of a NGO doing job training and job placement with the engineering company CCC, since they required in the offer an engineering degree with a good English level.

This was the change that I dreamt of it. I take the job and I really felt that the hope is the fuel of life. I waited a lot for this, and the NGO (Education For Employment) training give me that light that guided me to a new world: the professional world. I got skills that allows me to adapt to many professional situations through the training I had. I learnt how to manage my job and develop my thinking.

In the university, we take many courses, many subjects and many exams, but they are not enough to prepare us for the job we look for it. Here comes the EFE role: it links the university fresh thinking to the profession requirements.

The offer I get with CCC is not just about having a job, but building a whole career. Now, I feel financial independence, more self-confidence, and especially having more hope for the future. The job training helped me realize the beginning of my dreams which is having a suitable job, and also give me the tools to develop my qualification. Now, I can help my family, think about my future plan, and be more secure.

Our modern world is based on many networks, and the most powerful of them is the human network. Organizations like EFE are a booster of human network. I meet people that help me change my view to many thing especially professional ones. Now I have a better strategic thinking, professional culture, decision-taking. All this change was built by the training that I got after university. It is really something that has to be nowadays essential for any fresh graduate to help him adapt to professional world.

Success is not a destination, it is a continuous journey. We have to believe in this so we can take our world to a better one. EFE is guide for the journey, which help us going ahead.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Middle East and North Africa not-for-profit Education For Employment (EFE), in conjunction with the third anniversary of the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17, 2013. That event kicked off what has come to be known as "the Arab Spring" and brought the Arab youth unemployment crisis into the global spotlight. EFE's mission is "to create job opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East and North Africa." For more information about the Education For Employment, click here.