“I have friends in security and other jobs like that who did not give me a lot of motivation. They said I would not be able to get a job in engineering because of my name, because of American ideas of my accent. EVERY DAY I MADE 50 APPLICATIONS AND THANKS FOR GOD, I MADE IT.”
On March 6 th, 2014, the African Community Center (ACC) welcomed Mr. Mutaz Said and his family to Colorado. On August 1st, he began working as a Quality Control Engineer for Betance Enterprises at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Within weeks of his arrival, Mutaz attended the first meeting of the Colorado Refugee STEM Professionals and volunteered to be the Communications Specialist for the group. One of the US based engineers who attended the meeting, Reuben Zylstra from Foothills Bridge Company, suggested that he cater his resume specifically to the job descriptions he’s finding. Mutaz also took advice from the Job Club at ACC, which he attended regularly. He offers this encouragement to participants in Job Club, “You must be patient. Keep attending Job Club and STEM Meetings. We are learning every day. We feel shy to talk about ourselves, but here we must.” He dedicated a corner of a room in his apartment to job searching, hung up a map of Denver, and reserved 2-3 hours per day on the task.
The job at Betance came up in one of Mutaz’s daily searches. He applied using words that appeared in the job description that were true of his experience. Four hours later, he received a call from the company. He is working on a playground and accessible community park project. He maintains the quality of the building, ensures standards and codes, and writes daily reports.
“A DREAM BECAME TRUE,” HE SAID. “I WILL NOT BELIEVE ANYONE WHO SAYS WE CANNOT GET ENGINEERING JOBS. IT HAPPENED. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE HERE.”
Thirty engineers have attended the Colorado Refugee STEM Professional meetings since mid-March in hopes of finding courage to continue their journey toward employment within their original professions. Partnerships with professionals from MWH Global, Foothills Bridge Company, TetraTech, Engineers without Borders USA, Emily Griffith Technical College, the African Community Center, Lutheran Family Services, and Ecumenical Refugee and Immigration Services enrich their journey.