Rana ElKassem became acquainted with NYIT-Abu Dhabi as a graduate student in 2015. Now she is the associate director of Employer and Alumni Relations there. Approximately 800 students have graduated from NYIT-Abu Dhabi, and another 6,000-plus alumni reside in the Middle East. The school’s status originally prompted ElKassem to apply as a student. “NYIT has a good reputation as the first American university in Abu Dhabi, and it has achieved success in a short time,” she says. Her firsthand knowledge of NYIT means she is uniquely poised to help other students and graduates pursue their chosen careers. “Being a student and now an alumna has helped me grow a strong network,” says ElKassem. “It helps me view my job from both perspectives.”
ElKassem began her master’s program in instructional technology already knowing that she wanted to work in education. “I had experience in human resources and recruitment. Part of my experience was to place fresh graduates in different sectors and highlight their strengths.” When the position at NYIT opened up, she jumped at the chance. “With my degree in education and my experience in career guidance and recruitment, I found this role very suitable for me,” she explains. “The alumni side came as a plus, and I really like this part of my job because it’s based on communication and maintaining a network.”
As associate director, ElKassem provides career guidance to current NYIT-Abu Dhabi students, critiquing their résumés, training them in workplace ethics, and matching them with potential internships. “Fresh graduates face a lot of competition in the job market, but our alumni are involved with the students and are willing to support them in internships and job placements,” she says. ElKassem’s goal is to create a strong, loyal network “where alumni feel connected to NYIT and know they are always welcome.” A major accomplishment in building this network is organizing and hosting NYIT-Abu Dhabi’s annual alumni dinner. U.A.E. alumni, who often work in sectors such as banking, energy, construction, and retail, use the occasion to reconnect with former classmates and instructors. She also launched an Alumni of the Month initiative, and she always encourages alumni to come back to volunteer or share their experiences with current students.
Above all, ElKassem is inspired by the students and alumni she works with and the promise that getting an education at NYIT holds. “Those who are always hungry for knowledge keep me motivated to educate them and myself along the way,” she says. “Education is limitless.”Are you a graduate living in the Middle East? Connect with Rana ElKassem.