Sandie Muhhuku may be described in one word: resilient. Faced with almost insurmountable hurdles, she clung to the goal of finding work and a better life.
The 28-year-old Ugandan native earned a Master's degree in civil and architectural engineering from KTH in Sweden. Muhhuku had been unemployed for a year despite applying after constantly.
Fortunately, she had financial help during this trying time.
“I honestly could not have done any of this without my older sister Sammy. I also took odd jobs here and there like being a teaching assistant on campus to earn a bit more,” she said.
Muhhuku described job hunting as a roller-coaster of very high highs and extremely low lows, and said unemployment affected her in a way she could not fully articulate. She also had to beat a deadline.
“If I did not get a job within a year, I'd have to leave Sweden. I moved here after getting a scholarship to pursue a Master's degree, and hoped to stay and gain some professional experience before returning to my country.”
Unemployment made her question her capabilities, worth and more.
“I wondered if I was incompetent or if it would ever end. I had periods of extreme depression and borderline giving up, to be honest,” she said.
“I cried a couple of times, obviously, but when that would happen, I'd take a break, recharge and continue. Some side effects were presented as physical, like weight loss.”
Receiving rejections also took a toll on her mental health. She said there were two kinds: those where she had got to the interview stage hurt but the computer generated ones started not to ‘phase’ her.
“Those are the ones where you know your application was not even looked at. Those used to hurt too, but after a while I got used to them. Sometimes I'd get rejections from companies I did not even remember applying to.”
Muhhuku’s position is that of an assistant project manager. She encouraged those who are still seeking employment to keep applying even if they get rejected.
“Job hunting sucks; there is no nice way of putting it. I'd say don't give up no matter what. Apply, apply, apply! Whether you think you qualify or not, when you submit an application there is a 50/50 chance you get it but when you don't, there is a 100 percent chance you won't get it,” she said.
“Take a break when you feel burnt out and get a good support system. My friends and family and mentor kept me going throughout this period. They reminded me of my potential and ability, and it kept me going.”