Nour Salmeen, senior marketing specialist at Ascension, discusses with Isis Simpson-Mersha and Gabrielle Torres from Ragan and D S Simon Media about the importance of having transferable skills as a communicator. She shares her story of navigating college as an international student and highlights the impact international students have in the workforce. Salmeen also explains how failure can be used as a powerful learning tool in your career.
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GABY: Hi, my name is Gabrielle Torres. I’m the executive marketing manager at DS Simon Media.
ISIS I am Isis Simpson-Mersha, conference producer and reporter at Regan. And today, we’re here with Nour, and we’re so excited for you to join us today.
NOUR: Hi, thank you so much. I am happy to be here.
ISIS: So I know that you’ve had a couple of different roles. And I know that you have experience that you’ve gained over that time. So how did you know or when did you know you wanted to move to another department?
NOUR: I was intrigued by a position that was posted that catered more to the associate engagement and online journey and helping to set the tone of what our mission means to the people that come in to work every day, our associates, our teams across the country and feel like they are being called to serve. Everything I had done at that point before that position was posted had been externally facing. There was a wonderful internal program that our friends in h.r. are running that specifically looks at growing your career within the company based on the skill sets during your rule. In this case, transferable skills really became my best friend and the transition itself became a lot easier because I was already working with the team on different projects throughout the years. And this time I was on a different lens where we were thinking through different resources and implementing plans that really provided resources for associates and ensured a positive continuum for the organization structure, but then also for the online experience that was catered for our associates.
GABY: You know, I think that’s great. I think you really are putting in too perspective the importance of growth and the needs of the company. And so how important would you say internal communications are to your own role currently and within different teams within the company?
NOUR: I think communication that is impactful can help break down silos, misinformation, confusion and although we work around content, whether it’s writing it, promoting it, repurposing it. Really, essentially what we’re doing is trying to fit the piece of content into the right piece of medium for it. Therefore, communication becomes so critical in a time where our to do lists are monstrous and our attention spans are terrible but if I am not communicating and bringing the people who need to be in that circle forward, you know, I run the risk of failure. And really, it’s as simple as that.
ISIS: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And, you know, a lot of people are really brave for doing this, But what made you go back to school? I cannot imagine going back. I’m so happy for my experience and all I gained. But you know, what made you decide to go back and how did the connections you made help you grow in your career?
NOUR: I had moved to the United States back in 2009 to go to school. As everybody knows, America is well known for its global university rankings. And getting a foreign education as an Arab woman puts me at a competitive advantage. Since the plan was to go to school, go back home in Kuwait and start working. I had a great undergraduate experience, I made long life friends, I learned a great deal of education and I made a lot of connections throughout. And I found myself spending a lot of time curating our annual International Business Career conference over the years and our annual Peace competition conference and doing this activity and that activity until eventually the professor that I was working really closely with recommended me for a research assistant position within the department and had just mentioned, Hey, you should talk to the manager and see what they’ve got going on in that open position. And at that point it was not in my plan to continue. You know, I had planned to just graduate and go home. Plus, I didn’t think that I was going to get accepted, I especially didn’t think that I was going to get accepted as a research assistant.
NOUR: But I was wrong both times. And I’m kind of glad that I was because the journey had been so incredible, not just, you know, not just with my growth as a human being, but the way of doing business here.
GABY: You know, you really showcase how networking is important. And so being an international student, how is it like navigating some of these job applications and entering the workforce postgraduate and post the research assistant role?
NOUR: Looking for a job as an international student is not for the faint of heart. Employers tend to shy away from international hires for multiple reasons. It’s expensive to work visa that a company would apply you for is not guaranteed, right, because it’s based on the lottery visa. In the case where the visa doesn’t go through, you know, recruiters find themselves feeling a little bit frustrated because they have to start back in square one. I think the sentiment is changing for a lot of reasons, right? Like international students, they really bring the skill sets and the mindsets that are fundamentally linked to their American counterparts. They’re intelligent, they’re hardworking, and they could be an asset to really any company that decides to bring them on as part of the team. And so my advice for people who are currently going through this journey is remember to take a deep breath. I know it’s hard, but keep practicing those interviewing skills and really bring forth unapologetically why you are an asset to any company that would be willing to hire you. And you could also get connected with groups in your area that foster and mentor international students who are preparing to enter the workforce in the United States, specifically for foreign born individuals. There’s a lot of studies that go on. 60% of immigrants are more likely to start a business. 130% of immigrants are more likely to have an advanced degree. So if you want to hire the best team and find the best talent, I urge and encourage recruiters to look beyond their usual means of finding candidates for the job.
ISIS: Thank you for dropping those gems. I really hope that, you know, some recruiters, you know, get to see this and can take away from that. And I know we kind of started at the beginning of your career, the beginning, you know, or, you know, discussing somr schooling. So how do you see your career evolving coming up in the future?
NOUR: I like to say failure sucks but instructs. I love that saying so much because we really often try to be prepared for everything. Anything that’s less than prepared and planned and resourced well would feel like a failure. I want to be able to kind of change that mindset because we’re learning as we go for a lot of these things and there’s new technologies being developed every day, different tools, different ways of doing things, even different ways of doing things with certain people within your same team. And so, it’s important to learn and grow from that and really taking that failure or that mistake and be proud of that, because that is really ultimately what’s going to make you a better communicator for the future.
ISIS: Amazing. Well, thank you so much. And it’s been a pleasure for you to join us today.
GABY: Thank you so much, Nour.
NOUR: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.