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Faculty of Arts and Sciences
 
FAS hosts a Career Forum: Offering students diverse panel conversations and workshops

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​​​                                    The s​econd panel on Employability Skills, was moderated by Ms. Hala Hibri (center) included panelists 
                                    ​(from left to right) Dr. Pierre Abou Ezze, Dr. Mazen SoueidDr. Nabil Fahed and  Ms. Layal Darwish

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On Saturday April 22, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) held a Career Forum event to coincide with the AUB Career Fair.

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FAS is home to 17 different departments with a total of 25 undergraduate majors, including natural sciences, social sciences arts and humanities. With the economic issues facing Lebanese youth and young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in general, where students are expected to have as much as three years of work experience by the time they have finished their undergraduate work, more than ever we are seeing a gap between what employers expect from graduates and what graduates feel they can offer employers. 
 
Dean of FAS Nadia El-Cheikh opened the forum. “AUB aims to provide a holistic and comprehensive education to its students, and FAS celebrates the diversity in our faculty. This does not extend simply to the wide range of degrees we offer, but also to the students who study with us.” She said. “Today you will be guided in how best to use your strategic planning, your passion and your expertise.”
 
With professional development on the job no longer an automatic benefit of an entry level position, students are having to recognize and develop their existing skills while they are still at university. The panels offered included Training Fresh Graduates, Employability Skills and Research Skills. Each of these was designed to prompt students to explore inter-disciplinary options in their applications, to identify the general skills that most employers seek in potential employees, to learn how to identify and develop skills complementary to their degrees and to learn how to market and use already existing research skills to enter different work domains and academic fields.
 
In the panel Training Fresh Graduates, which was moderated by Ms, Sinine Nakhles and included panelists Mr. Khalil Abboud, Mr. Gilbert Doumit, Ms. Lea Hakim and Dr. Haitham Khoury. Ms. Hakim, an economist for the World Bank and 2005 graduate of AUB, explained to students that “you want to demonstrate dependability, but youth job migration is also because the jobs people are being offered have changed a lot.”
 
Gilbert Doumit, managing partner of Beyond Reform and Development, offered words in contrast, encouraging students to “reshape the world we live in” and not to define success along traditional lines of having one steady job for their whole career. “University is not a phase,” he said, “university should teach you about life. As an employer, I prefer a student who is from any university who is passionate and driven, rather than one who is from a top school who is not.”
 
Employers in the MENA region have also begun to recognize that students in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences show and develop excellent communications skills, and have learned skills which make them adaptable in new work environments. Employers also recognize that excellent writing skills and analytical development make these students flexible, quick to learn new skills and proactive in self-development.
 
During the second panel, Employability Skills, which was moderated by Ms. Hala Hibri and included panelists Dr. Pierre Abou Ezze, Ms. Layal Darwish, Dr. Nabil Fahed and Dr. Mazen Soueid, Dr. Soueid, the chief economist for BankMed, said: “I would encourage students to move away from specialization and to be more openminded to the world around them. I test people on the basis of a quote from Montaigne, which is that a well-structured mind is better than a filled one. You must read!”
 
Demonstrating the changing attitudes of both students and employers, the final panel, Research Skills, was aimed at helping students to recognize the skills they already possess. The panel was moderated by assistant professor Kirsten Scheid and included panelists Dr. Nadim Farajalla, Ms. Tara Nehme and Ms. Rima Rassi. Ms. Rassi, who is the Graduate Studies Officer at AUB and a PhD candidate at Erasmus University, told students “there is a myth that Liberal Arts does not provide students with career skills. In fact, the most marketable skills Liberal Arts provides to students are those to do with research, but students are not aware of this.” The panelists went on to encourage students to be confident, and to create an outlook of “attitude before aptitude,” as they entered the job market. 
 
The Career Forum aimed to help students themselves create a portfolio of their skills as well as to hear panel debates. Workshops included: CV and Cover Letter Writing, Email Etiquette for the Workplace, Employability Skills for Entry Level Positions, Job Choice and Job Search, How to Turn a Business Idea Into a Product, Volunteering to Make a Stronger Profile and Conducting Impactful Research.
 
Students were encouraged to network and make professional connections with invited alumni at the informal lunch after the conclusions of the panels. The Forum was organised by FAS Career Service Officer, Sinine Nakhle.

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