Navigating Corporate as a First-Generation Black Muslim Woman – Sahra Mohamed


Navigating Corporate as a First-Generation Black Muslim Woman – Sahra Mohamed

Sahra Mohamed is an MSc Drug Discovery and Pharma Management student at UCL. This article originally appeared in The Pen, The Aziz’s Foundation’s scholars blog:

Being the eldest daughter in an immigrant household, much of my life has embodied responsibilities. I grew up adopting my mother’s nurturing manner as she took care of our home and family, with my priorities eventually shifting to financial duties as I followed suit of my father. Naturally, the pressure to support my family in all capacities was strong. In recognition of my parent’s struggles, I had assumed four part-time jobs while studying full-time in an attempt to relieve some of their burdens. This desire combined with my unhealthy concern is what ultimately drove me over the edge.

Upon completion of my final-year undergrad thesis, I began job hunting immediately. The fear of falling into a period of inactivity and what I deemed at the time to be ‘failure’, was both daunting and out of the question. After more than fifty applications and interviews, I accepted a 3-month internship at a distinguished healthcare communications firm in London. Relieved, I assumed my problems were over. Little did I know, however, that this was just the first hurdle.

Working with leading pharma, medical device and biotech companies at the very start of my career was pivotal. I would arrive at the office every morning, eagerly anticipating my assignment for the day. My portfolio of clients, as well as useful industry knowledge, was rapidly growing — and all within five weeks of completing my studies. I had to admit, even to myself, the achievement was pretty impressive. Much to the reassurance of my family and friends, I had secured the “dream job”. Everything seemed to be going smoothly and I had plenty to be grateful for.

Yet, I remained dissatisfied.

As a competitive individual with a habit to ruminate, I was constantly questioning my decision. Did I make a mistake? Had I rushed this choice? In accepting this placement, was I potentially missing a better or more suited opportunity? I would torture myself endlessly with the possibilities. Even though no real problem existed, I could not quite ignore the voice in my head. Doubt truly is a powerful sentiment. Only weeks into an otherwise pleasant placement, I found myself looking elsewhere (oblivious to the fact that the job at hand was not the issue)…

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