The importance of professional development cannot be overlooked these days. However, many people, especially young adults, face barriers when it comes to pursuing the career of their dreams. Motivated and driven by the desire to help people find a career that fits their skill sets and passions, Madina Gaitova ’14 (Almaty, Kazakhstan/Alexandria, VA) and Kamila Bekbaganbetova ’13 (Aktobe, Kazakhstan/San Antonio, TX) organized “The Next Step”, a career guidance project to encourage teenagers to explore different professional fields and find what suits them.

The project’s aim is to help give students a taste of the professional world and and learn about the many kinds of careers available to young people joining the workforce in Kazakhstan. Additionally, the project aimed to create a community from among participants in which they can ask questions about professional life, learn from the experience of those who have already achieved success in their field, and get support from other ambitious young people.

Madina is the main organizer of the project. She is a life coach with extensive experience in social work, which drove her to start the “Next Step” project. Madina is a firm believer that anyone deserves a dream career, and wants to use “The Next Step” project to prove it. Kamila, the project’s co-organizer, shares the same belief. Kamila worked for two years at Air Astana, but after taking a digital marketing course during quarantine she discovered her newfound passion and has since switch career paths. She felt very lucky that she was able adjust her career aspirations and felt that by helping with “The Next Step” project she was able to share this with others.

“The Next Step” project started in October 2020 and lasted for nine weeks. Each week covered a specific topic surrounding professional development, such as the transition from school to professional life; types of employers and companies; entrepreneurship; and various industries. To help introduce the participants to these topics, Madina and Kamila turned to their fellow FLEX alumni for help. Eight alumni volunteered for “The Next Step” project as speakers, joining the zoom calls and presenting to the participants about their professional experiences and giving career advice for the field that they work in.

By the end of the project, participants had had their eyes opened to the professional world and had a much better understanding of what career they may want to pursue after graduation. Madina and Kamila were very happy with the outcome of their project, both feeling that they were able to show participants that anyone can chase their dream career.

Written by Gulden Kaliyeva ’15 (Aktobe, Kazakhstan/Castlewood, SD)