After fleeing war, Berhan lands thriving-wage job as Senior Category Analyst
Berhan spent much of her childhood underground. Crouched in bomb shelters underneath her family’s home in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, she and her seven siblings grew up in hiding. Daily missile attacks ravaged the region during the 1980’s Ethiopian Civil War and famine.
Despite growing up in the midst of conflict, Berhan excelled in school and earned a marketing degree from a top university in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. She worked for over twelve years in marketing and business and became Head of Consumer Planning, Research, and Capability at a multinational beverage company. At the time, Berhan had even dreamt of starting her own business.
But Berhan’s success was short-lived. In 2020, political tensions flared and violence erupted once again, making the Tigrayan people — including Berhan and her family — targets.
“You’re living in the 21st century, but you were experiencing these horrific medieval times,” Berhan remembers of the civil war. Berhan held her breath as record-breaking numbers of sexual violence cases broke out around her. In March of 2021, she had no choice but to leave for the United States.
“Starting over again at 33 — it’s not something that you want to do,” says Berhan. “I’ll be safe. I’ll be free. But I don’t know what will happen to my life goals after losing everything I have worked for.”
Arriving in the U.S. with few connections and no job prospects, Berhan found herself working as a nanny to make ends meet while she applied for asylum. By March of 2022, a friend told her about Upwardly Global, changing her course completely.
“Getting introduced to Upwardly Global just opened the door for me. I cannot thank you enough,” says Berhan, who credits her job coach with giving her the confidence to apply for jobs that she had thought were out of reach.
Upwardly Global supported her through several mock interviews and networking events. These new professional connections led Berhan to land a job as a Category Analyst at Giant Food. Three months later, she was promoted to Senior Category Analyst, and her job coach helped her negotiate for a competitive salary package.
“I have actually referred [Upwardly Global] to a lot of people like me,” Berhan says. “The fact that [Upwardly Global] gives people the affirmation that [they] would qualify [for jobs] is very huge. There are so many ways you can help support people, but to motivate them … kudos to you.”
Berhan, now 35, keeps busy with work, but she is able to call her nieces and nephews in Ethiopia every day now that the war has ended. It is their perseverance and smiles over FaceTime that inspire her to dream again, this time on U.S. soil.