Supporting student career development

Company representatives visited KAUST for the Eighth Annual Fall Career Fair on Thursday, October 26. Photo by Asharaf Kannearil.

By David Murphy, KAUST News.

KAUST Graduate Affairs’ Office of Professional Development, in collaboration with the Industry Partnerships Office and Saudi Affairs, held the Eighth Annual Fall Career Fair on campus from October 24 to October 26.

The Career Fair culminated in an Alumni Panel and Career Fair Expo on October 26. During the panel, three former KAUST students gave their advice to current graduate students on exploring their career paths, searching for jobs and getting started in the professional world.

Sage advice from former alumni

The Alumni Panel featured Hussain Shibli (M.S. ‘13), director general of the National Renewable Energy Data Center at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KAA-CARE); Mustafa Mousa (Ph.D. ’16, M.S. ’11), CEO and co-founder of Sadeem; and Mona Alsomali (Ph.D. ’16), senior microbiologist at the Dow Middle East Innovation Center (MEIC)/KAUST.

Lea Sublett, manager of Alumni Affairs; Mona Alsomali (Ph.D. ’16), DOW; Hussain Shibli (M.S. ‘13), KAA-CARE; and Mustafa Mousa (Ph.D. ’16, M.S. ’11), CEO and co-founder of Sadeem, speak during an Alumni Panel as part of the University's Career Fair on October 26. Photo by Asharaf Kannearil.


Lea Sublett, manager of Alumni Affairs, moderated the alumni panel and asked the panelists a range of questions covering their experiences at KAUST, their present occupations and where they see themselves in the future.

Patience and passion

Shibli’s advice to current KAUST students was to remain patient and dedicated when it comes to looking for future employment.

“You must continue to invest in yourself. There is no way you can reach perfection. Just make sure you do not miss any professional/personal opportunities that come your way,” Shibli said.

“KAUST will sharpen your skills so that you can take advantage of these opportunities when they occur, but I would encourage everyone to have a clear vision for their future. You must give time to envisage your future so that you have clear expectations moving forward,” Shibli added.

The word "passion" was the recurring term and sentiment shared among the panelists as they discussed the need for students to find their passions and follow them resolutely.

Sublett emphasized the need for passion in one's job, noting, “If you’re passionate about what you do and you love your work—it won’t feel like work.”

Alsomali reiterated Sublett's point, adding, “The key is to look for jobs or opportunities that interest you—jobs that will fuel your passion."

A professional approach

The panel also identified that a professional approach and focus are essential while seeking employment. Panelists also focused on the need to show prospective new employers just what it is one can bring to each company and organization.

“We all have limited time in every possible way. Recruiters can’t possibly get to know every candidate personally. You have to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Don’t wait for the demand; create it,” Shibli said. “Don’t accept any old job—make sure you plan for the job you want."

Mousa echoed the sentiments of his fellow alumni and implored current students not to rush to a decision when it comes to choosing a career.

Hussain Shibli (M.S. ‘13), director general of the National Renewable Energy Data Center at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, spoke as part of an Alumni Panel during the University's Career Fair on October 26. Photo by Asharaf Kannearil.


“When it comes to decisions, you can always plan, but if you do the best you can at a given time, the opportunities will come to you. Being in the right place at the right time—this can make a huge difference,” Mousa said.

“You’re never going to get it right the first time. There is no perfect decision. Do the best with what you have,” he added.

The panel agreed that the opportunities provided by KAUST were a significant factor in their career paths and development.

“KAUST does a great job of getting students ready for future employment,” Alsomali said.

“Everything in my career can be traced to the opportunities provided by KAUST,” Mousa noted.

Company representatives engage with KAUST students at the Eighth Annual Fall Career Fair on Thursday, October 26. Photo by Asharaf Kannearil.

After the Alumni Panel, the event moved to the adjacent lecture hall, where students met with company representatives to discuss full-time employment opportunities and internship options at the vibrant Career Fair Expo.

The students met with a diverse selection of companies, including SchlumbergerSaudi AramcoHalliburtonDOWHuaweiKAPSARCSaline Water ConversionNomacKACAREMonitor Deloitte and Thermo Fisher, among others. The companies offered advice and supportive words to the students who visited their booths.

Other events during the week included a LinkedIn webinar with best-selling author and social media expert Bert Verdonck on October 24. October 25 featured the "Toshiba Memory Event" with David Thomas, the internationally acclaimed expert on human memory.