Lebanon CSP Transforming Lives – Dalal Mouallem
LEBANESE YOUTH LANDS DREAM JOB WITH RENOWNED FASHION COMPANY FOLLOWING INTERNSHIP
USAID’s Internship Program Provides Students and Graduates with Practical Experience to Enhance Their Employment Potential
Dalal Mouallem’s laptop screen is crowded with images of cutting-edge fashion items from Lebanese designers. She busily clicks away creating order among the different designs. She is working as marketing assistant for a leading Lebanese online retailer, a job she doubts she would have landed without the experience she gained during an internship with USAID’s Community Support Program (CSP). A recent university graduate, she is delighted to have achieved her goal of working in the fashion industry.
Amidst the ongoing socio-economic crisis in Lebanon, unemployment rates have reached a new high, from 28% in 2020 to around 35% in 2021. The crisis is forcing young people to drop out of education and engage in poorly paid, irregular work just to help feed their families. Opportunities for young people are scarce and their future is becoming increasingly uncertain. To address this issue and to enhance professional opportunities for students and recent graduates in Lebanon, CSP collaborates with USAID’s University Scholarship Program (USP) by engaging USP students as interns. These interns assist with CSP’s activities supporting underserved communities.
Despite obtaining a marketing degree in 2019 from the Lebanese American University, Dalal still struggled to make ends meet: “I worked as a freelancer near my home in South Lebanon because I couldn’t afford to move to Beirut. But even then, there were few opportunities because I didn’t have enough professional experience.” Just when she felt she was hitting a wall in her fledgling career, Dalal joined CSP’s workforce development as an intern working on qualitative research on the technical and vocational education and training sector in Lebanon, which gave her important hands-on experience. “It was fascinating to be a part of the effort of understanding what’s going on with this sector. I was able to develop my skills in communication, public relations, and translation,” she recalled.
After completing her internship in September 2021, Dalal applied for a job a leading Lebanese fashion company. “I have been passionate about the fashion industry for as long as I can remember. When I applied for this job, I knew that it was a long shot, but my experience with CSP made me more confident that I had the right profile.” At her new job, Dalal assumes a number of key responsibilities which include managing the company’s website and media campaigns, photo shoots, and handling its social media platforms.
Dalal is one of 51 interns who have taken part in CSP’s internship program, improving their professional skills, access to the job market, and assisting target communities.
“In the current context in Lebanon, it is extremely challenging for recent graduates to gain decent employment. My internship with CSP really helped my profile stick out and get recruited at my dream job.”