By Caroline LeKachman
Hi everyone! My name is Caroline, and I am a Wasserman Career Ambassador in my second year studying Applied Psychology. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an employer presentation held by Qalaa Holdings, a leading investment company in Africa and the Middle East. As my background is in psychology, it was interesting to learn more about internship opportunities in fields outside of my comfort zone.
Ihab Rizk, the Head of Human Services at Qalaa Holdings, led the presentation and provided an overview of the company’s history as well as its opportunities for Summer 2020 internships. One of the aspects of the company’s history that interested me most was its emphasis on finding innovative, daring ways to improve the energy, mining, and transportation needs of the surrounding region. For instance, Rizk explained that during the company’s beginnings as a private equity firm in 2004, ninety-six percent of Egyptian residents lived near the Nile River, but only three percent of transportation served those areas. As a result, Qalaa Holdings sought to begin a greenfield project on the Nile that significantly improved the transportation of the region.
Additionally, Rizk mentioned the Egyptian Refining Company (ERC) and ASCOM as two of its most successful subsidiaries after its transition to being an investment company in 2013. Rizk described how ASCOM, in particular, was bought by Qalaa Holdings for almost no money when ASCOM only handled cement. Now under the ownership of Qalaa Holdings, ASCOM is worth 3 billion Egyptian pounds and controls eighty-seven percent of the cement business in Egypt and its surrounding regions, in addition to doing work in other areas like glass and insulation. From these and other anecdotes that Rizk told about the company, I could tell that Qalaa Holdings is committed to serving the needs of its surrounding regions through its investment in various industries, including energy, packing and printing, mining, agrifoods, and transportation and logistics–all to great success.
Besides the company’s commitment to its mission and success in doing so, I found the amount of value that Qalaa Holdings places on its workers to be my greatest takeaway of the presentation. For instance, Rizk explained that during its recruitment process for full-time employees, the company does not hire anyone outright but rather invites potential employees to attend a twelve week program, which consists of a crash course in working for the company. After several evaluations, including a mock pitch of a company to potential investors, Qalaa Holdings decides who to hire. This process not only allows the company to make more informed hiring decisions, but also enables students who may not necessarily have a background in business, such as myself, to have the opportunity to work for Qalaa Holdings. In fact, Rizk gave several examples of people who work for the company and have such diverse backgrounds as engineering, chemistry, and even art.
Even more relevant to NYU students, Qalaa Holdings will provide transportation, accommodations, and a stipend for its Summer 2020 intern positions in finance, HR, and engineering. Rizk also mentioned that the company is in the process of interviewing mentors specifically assigned to its interns in order to provide support while students gain real experience working full-time for the entire month of July. I personally appreciated how Rizk emphasized that Qalaa Holdings seeks to provide real experience, very much not the coffee runs and secretarial duties often stereotypical of an internship. All of these details demonstrated to me that Qalaa Holdings greatly values not only its employees but also its interns.
Considering the company’s successful history and value for its workers, interning at Qalaa Holdings sounds like an excellent opportunity for students wishing to gain professional experience in a global setting, and I encourage any juniors and seniors interested in applying to do so! Applications are still open until January 24, 2019 and can be found on Handshake.