Success Story: Aasia’s Path to Career Development
February 2, 2022
Developing A Career
Aasia was excited and scared. It was October 2020 and the first day of her dream job. She had just been hired for a three month internship as an administrative assistant with Computer CORE.
It had always been her dream to hold a professional job in a professional setting. And here it was! Now, she realized, her challenge was to make herself invaluable so they would hire her permanently.
Aasia’s new job was one of many new challenges and changes in the seven years since she had moved to the United States from Kabul, Afghanistan.
She had just completed high school in 2014. She married later that year. Aasia never really expected to live in the United States, but in 2015 she and her husband had emigrated there. It was “fun and sad,” Aasia recalled.
The move was also a big opportunity for an Afghan woman.
In America she could exercise her right to voice her opinion and work at a career of her choosing. Opportunities to work and study were scarce for women in Kabul.
Emigrating was also a sad time, since she travelled without her parents, six sisters, and three brothers. (One brother and a sister are in the United States now and the remaining family are still back in Afghanistan. They are, she said, “okay but suffering”).
Once Aasia and her husband settled in Northern Virginia, Aasia decided on a cosmetology career and received her license in 2018. She enjoyed her new profession and did not mind the long hours that came with opening and closing the salon. Then with the birth of her daughter in 2019, the hours and childcare challenges were unworkable.
It was time for another change.
Aasia enrolled in the Alexandria Workforce Development Center and was assigned Savannah Hill as her employment development specialist. Savannah challenged Aasia to take computer skills training at Computer CORE, studying Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Shortly afterwards, she arranged for Aasia to complete a paid work-based learning internship with a new program, also with Computer CORE.
As she prepared for her first day of work as an executive assistant intern, Aasia knew her computer skills were limited. She had learned how to type and navigate the internet in high school, and she created an email account when she arrived in the United States. That was it.
Now she had 5 months intensive training in Microsoft tools—would it be enough?
She stressed over English fluency.
But she didn’t need to. Aasia found her “second home” in Computer CORE, and credits the executive director, Donna Walker James, for guiding her through all the new challenges.
Everything Aasia learned was new to her. She learned phone protocol, office practices, accounting, and more about computers and software.
Aasia’s strategy to make herself invaluable worked.
At the end of her first three months, Computer CORE extended Aasia’s internship another three months. And again, and again. Her skills grew and expanded. Her English speaking skills improved, and she took a creative writing class. She learned about donor management, DonorPerfect software, and how to analyze giving trends.
She began to make recommendations about donors to Donna, and had intuitive skills with people and names, and learning new software.
And then Computer CORE hired her.
Today, one year later, Aasia is Computer CORE’s development associate—a job created just for her based on the emerging skills she has demonstrated.
“It was my dream to work in an office. I’m so happy right now,” she gushed. “I really like to work with donors,” she continued. Her next big challenge? Writing her own appeal letter for an upcoming giving campaign.
Aasia has learned many skills, but what she has really learned is confidence, which extends to all parts of her life.
She is proud of the changes she has seen in herself. “I have to be powerful to take care of my baby,” she said. “Right now, I want to try everything for my baby, for myself, for my family. And I’m thankful to Computer CORE for everything.”
Like a true development professional, Aasia ended the interview with a plea to the readers:
“Please help Computer CORE to grow and help immigrant people. Computer CORE helps everyone who doesn’t have an opportunity to study or change their career. Help Computer CORE so they can help others.”
Well said, Aasia.