In 2009, Khalid Mounsef came to the United States from Morocco with a 4-year degree in physics and a 2-year degree in IT networking. Despite his educational background, the only work the 38-year old immigrant could find were low-wage, dead-end jobs in the restaurant and retail sectors.
Khalid was working two jobs and studying English as a Second Language at a trade school when a Moroccan friend told him about Training Futures, a partnership between Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and Northern Virginia Family Service that offers a 25-week comprehensive job training and internship program aimed at entry-level administrative positions with career advancement potential. Training Futures offers a business immersion approach that resembles actual work practices, and includes comprehensive support services such as access to counseling, accent reduction, a support community of peers, interaction with corporate volunteers, and individualized tutoring and coaching.
Khalid’s friend had completed the Training Futures program himself and urged Khalid to pursue the opportunity to position himself for a better job. Khalid spent a preparatory term studying in the ESL Bridge Program that NOVA had established with Training Futures.
Training Futures offers a business immersion approach that resembles actual work practices.
By 2012, Khalid’s English was good enough to begin NOVA’s Training Futures program, which offered the opportunity to work in an office environment, a step up the career ladder from his “survival” jobs. A 6-week internship landed him at NOVA’s Office of Community-Based Co-Enrollment Programs. It also got him noticed by the Workforce Development Division office next door.
Shortly after completing the Training Futures program, he was hired by NOVA. His smile and positive attitude made him a natural for working at the Workforce Development customer service window on the Alexandria campus.
Khalid is now an Education Support Specialist II, proctoring CLEP tests for the Workforce Division. Khalid has continued to work on his English with additional study at NOVA. He made the Deans’ List in summer 2014 and is taking another writing course in fall 2014.
He plans to continue his education, to have his Moroccan transcript evaluated, and to pursue IT studies at the Master’s level. He would recommend his path to other immigrants: prepare for additional study by improving your English language skills, then find a community college program like Training Futures that sets you up to enter the professional work world.