In the present scenario of daily-increasing inflation and a floundering economy, does the young generation have many options in terms of work opportunities and a better living? They work hard to attain degrees and get a job to make ends meet, but it is wonderful to see that despite all odds, they do not give up their dreams of having a brilliant career and making their country proud.
The story of Aqsa Mughees, 30, is that of having a dream, clear focus, commitment, and drive to make it come true. She is working as Product Marketing Manager at Amazon. Mughees lived and studied in Lahore all her life, and a few months she started applying for different jobs. In February 2022, she got a job as Associate Product Manager at Straumann Group, and she moved to the USA in March 2022.
“I am pretty active on LinkedIn and advise everyone who wants to search for a good opportunity anywhere in the world to take LinkedIn seriously. When I went to the USA, I saw a job opening at Amazon, which aligned with my career, and I applied through their portal,” Mughees shares how her journey at Amazon started. She applied in June, and at the end of the month, she received an email informing her that she had been shortlisted, and an interview was lined up with a hiring manager and his subordinate. “An hour-long interview consisted of relevant experience, the designation I was applying for, and the situational knowledge about the work.”
The process took almost two and a half months; three weeks after the interview, she was informed via an email that she had been shortlisted for a second interview. “I was at the liberty to give them time according to my availability as they were very accommodating in that way,” Mughees says. She is the youngest of the three siblings and has gone to the USA while her husband, an IT professional still resides in Lahore. Her second interview was conducted with a human resource and a hiring manager, and she says that it was more of a conversation than an interview, which greatly helped her in explaining her work.
After that interview, they sent Mughees a writing assessment, which consisted of two questions from which she had to choose one and write a two-page long response. “The assessment was supposed to be sent back in seven days but as I was in Pakistan to meet my family, and was busy with a lot of things, I decided to complete it right away. I did it in one day and sent it back; this was at the end of July.”
After submitting the writing assessment, the very next day she received an email for a five-hour long loop interview. Amazon representatives asked her for her availability—in one go or be divided into two days. “I was in Pakistan, and the time difference was a big issue, so I decided to divide the interview into two days, where I locked three hours on day one and two hours on day two.” During the interview, there were people from different departments who asked her questions. The team consisted of a product marketing manager, business development manager, product marketing head, bar raiser, and hiring manager.
“During the last loop interview I was not even well; I had a headache and fever, and they asked me if I want to reschedule. But I knew I had a few prior family commitments, so I decided to go ahead. The very next day they approached me to discuss the outcome, made an offer and shared details about the position,” Mughees shares who is visiting her family in Lahore after four months in the USA.
Luck, hard work, or both?
For most people the journey to their goal is difficult, but it's not always easy even for people who have everything. Mughees knows that she comes from a privileged background, but she is aware of societal obstacles that most people face. “I have been lucky, I have had everything one can think of—from supporting parents to encouraging siblings, from a loving and understanding husband to supporting in-laws.” Mughees wanted to be a cardiologist when she was a kid as she looked up to her older sister who is a doctor, but her life turned because of one course in A level that her brother asked her to opt for.
“I used to sing when I was a kid, and in every community programme and musical night, my parents used to make me sing on stage. They were immensely supportive of whatever I wanted to do with my life. I was six-seven years old at that time, but later I started getting interested in medicine. Eventually, things changed when on my brother’s suggestion, I took business studies as one of my subjects,” she says.
Mughees, along with Economics, Urdu, and Sociology, took Business Studies Her teacher was so amazing, Mughees changed her career goal from medicine to business. After doing her O Level from Convent of Jesus and Mary, Lahore, she completed her A Level from Lahore Grammar School, and did her BBA from FAST, Lahore. She says that she wasn’t a very serious student but a consistent one. “I was very active in extracurricular activities; I was the founding representative of Media Society at LGS 55 Main, was elected the batch representative and Vice President IEEE at FAST.
Mughees was always passionate about her career and started working soon after she graduated from FAST in 2014. “I started working for a startup and it gave me a lot of experience in terms of work. I had the liberty to learn a great deal because in startups you can experiment, whereas in established businesses, the margin to amend or experiment is very little.”
Life after marriage
It was in 2018 when Mughees got married to Zaryab, whose family lives in Multan. “Initially, I stopped working but my mother-in-law encouraged me to continue with my career,” she shares, adding that her husband and her parents-in-law have also encouraged her to achieve her goals, and they supported her, behind her back, whenever people questioned the choices she had made.
Moving to the USA was not easy; two years ago, Mughees lost her father to COVID-19, and her mother was very depressed. Dealing with the loss of her father, trying her best to support her mother and getting used to the idea of leaving her husband in Pakistan, none of it was an easy decision. “My mother showed so much courage and strength when she told me that she wanted me to go and take that job; Ammi showed a big heart,” she says. Mughees’ husband plans to move to the USA soon as currently he’s working for a tech company, and the move is not inconvenient.
Aqsa and her US passport
Mughees was born in the Iowa state when her father was in the USA for his PhD. She returned to Pakistan when she was one and a half years old. “When I applied for jobs, I didn’t share with anyone my birth country or that I have a US passport, as it doesn’t matter to me in that way, and I was just applying for opportunities as someone from Pakistan.” Mughees and her husband had talked about moving to the USA someday, but getting a job with Amazon made it easy for them. It was also a reassurance that she was going on her abilities and not her passport.
Mughees is a fulltime employee and will be joining Amazon on September 1, 2022. “Getting into Amazon was something I had in my bucket list. When I got the final call, I was in a big shock, numb. I truly owe this to every single person in my life who believed in me.” The way her parents worked hard for their family is something that has brought her to this stage in her career.
Guidance to get into amazon:
Here are a few points for people who are looking for an opportunity to work in marketing at Amazon and other global companies:
1. Work on your resume. Add numbers, core competencies and any ideas that you turned into reality in your alma mater or organization.
2. Take prep calls and/or emails seriously and follow instructions. Attention-to-detail is something that really matters.
3. Develop story-telling skills, prioritizing details that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
4. It’s okay to share stories of your failures. It’s more important to share how those failures helped you learn or develop your skills.
5. Read the job description very carefully as it’s your key to a complete recruitment process.
6. Ask questions, as many as you like, without being shy.
7. Be yourself!