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From Winning the Green Card Lottery to Landing My Dream Job in DSM USA

Atef Farhat's dream job in DSM USA

December 18, 2018

I immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in August of 2017. In other words, I won the green card lottery. I first landed in Manhattan, New York where my sister had settled and found a job as an administrative assistant.

Why DSM Was Ideal

In a way, this was a good place for me to start my life in the U.S. since I had a free temporary place to live. However, I quickly found out how challenging it was to find a job in a busy place like New York! The few companies that contacted me only had openings for jobs that were far from my experience, background and skillset. I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a master’s degree in Public Administration and the only positions I could find generally did not fit any of my expectations.

Thanks to some advice from my American friends, I learned about Greater Des Moines (DSM) and its potential for employment opportunities and reputation for low cost of living. That is how I became acquainted with the Greater Des Moines Partnership and their work in helping immigrants like myself in finding suitable employment that matched my high-skilled degree through their Global DSM initiative.

Job Seeking in DSM

I arrived in DSM in November of 2017 and immediately started my job hunt after settling into my new apartment. Within the same period, I went to The Partnership and had a meeting with Sanjita Pradhan (Program Director of Talent Development) and Mary Bontrager (Executive Vice President of Talent Development). This meeting created a positive impression of DSM and instilled a strong sense of hope in building a life for myself here.

While I felt lonely a lot of times and unsure of what direction to take, where to go for help, what organizations I should apply for or what jobs I should apply for, it was very comforting to be able to find support, advice and resources through The Partnership. The Partnership staff spent numerous hours providing me with counseling, advice, direction and support.

Job Growth Experience

After many attempts, I finally found my first job at Wells Fargo as a Loan Servicing Specialist. Although it wasn’t exactly in the field that I wanted, it served as a great learning opportunity for me and overall gave me a glimpse of corporate America and how private companies operate. I learned about management and American workplace culture. Through the Global DSM talent connection program at The Partnership I was connected to an executive at Wells Fargo who was also foreign-born and had similar experience as me, moving into a new country and relaunching his career. He was able to provide more insight to me about Wells Fargo and helped me to be a better employee. He also helped me with more networking within Wells Fargo and outside. It was very helpful to have him as a sounding board and receive help to navigate within the company.

During the months of June through September, The Partnership had organized a Career Readiness for International Professionals program. This program helped me better understand the American workforce, taught me how to market myself to an employer, build networking and resume-writing skills and assisted with my job search.

I believe that after regularly attending the program each week, I gained knowledge and understanding on how to prepare myself for my next career opportunity and I used these tips in my job applications and interviews. We also got to hear from recruiters from different companies in DSM about their recruitment process and how to stand out as a job-seeker! The Career Readiness for International Professionals sessions provided me with confidence, encouragement and the resources I needed to succeed in continuing my career.

Finally Landing a Dream Job in DSM

I started applying for more specific jobs related to my qualifications in accounting, finance and internal audit. Finally, after many applications, rejections, interviews and failure, I succeeded in finding my dream job to work in the area that I am educated in and have experience. I joined Eurofins Scientific Inc in an accounting position in early November and I couldn’t be more excited! I would like to thank the Greater Des Moines Partnership and their Career Readiness for International Professionals program for helping me to gain the confidence and skills I needed to find a great career in DSM.

Through the Global DSM: International Talent Strategy, The Partnership works to establish Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global community attracting and retaining foreign-born persons to the region. Check out more Global DSM stories and learn how The Partnership promotes DSM as a welcoming community to foreign-born talent.

Atef Farhat

Atef Farhat earned his bachelor's degree in Finance and his master's degree in Public Administration in his home country of Tunisia. He has expertise in public finance management, internal auditing and project management and is a former civil servant within the Tunisian Finance Administration. He currently is a general accountant at Europhins Scientific Inc., a multinational company in Greater Des Moines (DSM).