Culture Life Stories Life

People don’t want me to talk about life as a woman in Saudi Arabia unless it suits them

Recently a website asked me to write about my experience as “a woman living in Saudi Arabia”. Because God forbid I ever forget. 

I wrote that Saudi Arabia makes me feel like a precious jewel. I didn’t say that with vanity. I was trying to explain how being wrapped in the folds of an abaya is akin to being cushioned in the velvety base of a jewelry box, protected and cherished.  I wrote about the security I had taken for granted growing up in a Muslim country but now had a newfound appreciation for. I said it felt good to live here.

Could you tell this isn’t what they wanted to hear?

I received a response saying that they “wouldn’t feel right publishing this because it posed a conflict” as my depiction of this country goes against things they’ve heard. 

Heard in countries where people laugh and meet in the streets like they don’t have a care in the world? But certainly seem to care when a woman covered in abaya walks by. When a man who looks “middle eastern” is around, or when someone sneezes and by automatic instinct, you say “Alhamdulillah” instead of the more popular term, of literally the same meaning, “bless you”, they seem uneasy.

But on the streets of Jeddah, I feel the call to prayer echo in my veins. 

If you are bothered by the smell of fragrant Oud in marketplaces, this isn’t the place for you

If you’re not prepared to let the aroma of sheesha envelop you at Obhur, while children laugh and call to each other from camel-back and Arabic pop music blares from lavish sports cars, this clearly isn’t the place for you.  

If you’re uncomfortable at the sight of abaya-clad women and men dressed in sharp white thobes leaving the scent of Arabic perfume lingering on the street as they flock to the mosque for Friday prayer, swathed in a feeling of piety and devotedness so strong they almost levitate, this really isn’t the place for you. 

If you’re offended that there are women with an amazing sense of style who will wear the most daring outfits around each other and absolutely none of it, will ever be glimpsed by men who aren’t their familiars, this definitely isn’t the place for you

But it has always been a place for me. 

You sit on the other side of your laptop and television screens and talk about “freedom”, when it was right here that I felt the security to confidently follow my religion without the fear of being labeled a “terrorist”. 

Did I disappoint you by not writing a hate-piece in which I bash the country and lament how “oppressed” I am living in Saudi Arabia? Did I not adhere to all the hard work the media puts into painting the Middle East as a repressive place, with suppressed Muslim women that are shackled by their beliefs and the laws of an unfair Islamic country?

How did Disney like to put it? “Where they cut off your ears if they don’t like your face…it’s barbaric but hey it’s home”? (they had to clean it up recently to avoid angering audiences)

Agrabah…oh Agrabah…the damage you’ve done.

You still think this country is just sand and heat and oppression don’t you? 

What do you know of the liberties of being Muslim in an Islamic country? Whenever certain aspects of female modesty are a given arrangement, every time giving women their own space is an automatic norm, when the month of Ramadan comes around and it’s understood that it’s about much more than ‘fasting during daylight hours’, you don’t stop being a Muslim when the sun goes down, that Ramadan is rewarding and it’s a blessing, not having to be worried about finding Halal (Islamically permitted food) all the time because it’s more than just not consuming pork and alcohol, it’s a whole different ball game, and no I won’t just “have a drink” to loosen up, that it isn’t personal, it’s spiritual.

And absolutely none of it makes me feel oppressed. It solidifies my identity. 

Despite this country’s problems (it has plenty of those I can’t deny), there is a reason that the city of Makkah, and its westernized name Mecca became synonymous with meaning promised land. 

Living in Saudi Arabia sheltered me from Islamophobia, it meant that my values as a Muslim were unquestioned. I didn’t have to feel like I had to defend them.

In part of my rejected article, I said “There is no such thing as the perfect Muslim or the perfect country. There may be no perfect religion.  But I know exactly who I am and what I choose to believe. I have no doubts, and I am perfectly happy”.  I admit that this country isn’t perfect and neither am I.

But you asked me to write about my personal experiences and then told me it’s problematic because it doesn’t fit your narrative. Problematic because of claims that Saudi Arabia only allowed women to drive recently and there are guardianship laws here. I never argued that, I didn’t even mention it. I was pretty careful about choosing my subjects, keeping them religious. And it still didn’t fit their agenda.

So what was their agenda? This website claims to be all about feminism and giving women a voice, encouraging women to speak up freely, giving them a place to be heard. As long as what that woman is saying fits their narrative. The typical “Islam is oppressive and Saudi Arabia is a tyrannical country that is stifling its women.  Look at how unhappy Muslim women really are” story. 

That’s probably why the submission I sent was basically a rosy-hued love letter to this country. Because it would bother them and then the hypocrisy of their selective feminism would show. 

Nobody wants to hear about a woman living in Saudi Arabia and liking it. How dare she?

Let me tell you how. From the very get-go, I saw the intention of the offer that was presented to me and refused to be a part of it.  I’m not blind, I know this place has its flaws just like anywhere else. But you can find hundreds of agenda-pushing writers out there who are going to be more than happy to fulfill your needs for some clout. You don’t even need a genie in a lamp to find one. However, this one refuses to be a part of it. 

I’ve lived here. I’ve loved it here and hated it here. It may not be Agrabah, but hey, it’s home.

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Editor's Picks Music Pop Culture Interviews

Myoa Sobamowo on quitting her day job, the music industry, and her upcoming “Beautiful Journey”

Many times in life people daydream about quitting their day job to following their dreams.

Singer/songwriter Myoa Sobamowo did just that, and taking that leap of faith has led her to places she never thought she would be before. Born the first of three siblings in Nigeria and brought up in England, she moved to the United States in 2007 and studied Accounting and Finance to follow in the footsteps of her father.

But she always had a love of making music.

“I’ve always loved singing, I wrote my first song when I was 9,” Myoa said in an exclusive interview with The Tempest. “I remember my music teacher, I would take piano lessons with him and one day I told him I had a song and he said ‘well come play it for me’, so I played it and he told me it was really good and he told me to never stop writing music and playing, and that really encouraged me that he could see that and, even though he’s in heaven somewhere, I’m always remembering that.”

Even though she got her Master’s degree and a chartered accountancy certification and got a really good job offer after graduating, she knew her heart always lay in music and she wanted to come to Hollywood to get a music education.

“It’s a big step, to fly to another country where I didn’t know anybody, no family, no friends, but I just felt I had to take it seriously, cause I started to believe in myself like ‘this is what I wanted to do’ and once I got into music school I was like ‘oh yes I’m not turning back’, so I got my degree in vocal performance production and that’s it. Been doing that properly since 2007.”

image description: a black and white picture of Myoa with only her lips showing a peach color she is wearing a white top and hugging a guitar
[image description: a black and white picture of Myoa with only her lips showing a peach color she is wearing a white top and hugging a guitar] via LAFAMOS
Initially, Myoa was thinking about going along the lines of gospel music but then realized that her type of music came more from a personal level, songs about relationships and expressionism, so she decided to stick to writing songs that are soulful and come straight from the heart.

“When I’m writing my music, it starts with me, so if you listen to most of my songs, they start with me like what I’m feeling. And I realize that most of the time the songs, they’re not meant for just women or just this age group, they’re just songs about what I’ve been through in my personal life, so I really think that anyone who is a lover of good melody and good lyrics can relate to my songs. I know it’s very broad, but it starts with me.”

Her new song “You” is the perfect example of this kind of personal expressionism, where she talks about toxic relationships in all its forms and breaking through the chain of such relationships in a way that everybody can relate to.

“And it wasn’t just about lovers because it had to do with my journey with music, it had to do with me speaking with other people about what they’ve been through in friendship, with some people’s family. You need to really figure who you are and as long as you stay in a toxic situation, it makes you go away from who you are.”

Myoa looks back on all the people who have been a source of encouragement for her throughout her musical journey, starting first and foremost with her family, who supported her even when she left a stable well-paying job and went to music school. And then people who have believed in her, from family to friends, her current boyfriend, her manager, and the team she’s working with.

“I have a really small team and those people really believe in me. For instance, like LAFAMOS, they would not do this if they do not believe in me you know, and then all the people that have been coming to my shows how can I forget them.? I remember when I first started I was only singing to 10 people, I had constant people who were always coming to my shows In Houston and even when I was in LA, they have really supported me there are some people that would come to every show when I performed.”

Myoa’s love for making music stems from more than just the need to be famous, but a desire to be heard and have her music reach people. “My love for music is I just want it to be long-lasting so it’s not even about being famous, I just want my music to reach people and let them really feel the depths of what I am feeling and influence them. I mean this is what helps me even when I am going through something it’s just my music. I feel like, if you just think ‘I want to be famous’, you’re gonna have just one-hit wonders.” 

With her album Beautiful Journey released on September 13, available across all digital media platforms worldwide and available for download here, Myoa looks to the possibility of going on tour around next year and starting work on her next album in the near future.

“I’ve been preparing for this for years, my album that’s coming out, it’s a collection of songs that I’ve had for over ten years. Imagine, it will be my very first album out, called “Beautiful Journey.” I think you’re really going to enjoy the song “Star Power.”

The advice she wants to give people is: “This is what I’ve realized, you’re never too old to do anything, resources are never too small or too big for you to get your dreams done and you can never ever depend on what people have to say you have to have something bigger than that, whether it’s your faith, whether it’s your dream, something always has to push you.”

And with that, Myoa plans to keep chasing her dreams and let nothing stop her, because “the world needs to hear and feel something different from what they’re used to.”

Books Pop Culture Interviews

This Pakistani writer illustrated a book in homage to female Pakistani role models

Pakistan for Women is a collection of illustrated stories of 50 amazing and inspiring Pakistani women from all walks of life. The book features influential women who are firefighters, singers, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists – women who have climbed literal and figurative mountains.

It is the first Pakistan-centric collection of its kind geared to inspire girls and women alike to not only learn about the wonderful women Pakistan has produced, but to take inspiration and motivation from them and know that they too can achieve great things. 

The writer and illustrator behind Pakistan for Women is 23-year-old, Pakistani Maliha Abidi who is currently studying medical neuroscience at the University of Sussex in England. Outside of her interest in science is also a passion for making amazing artwork at home.

Being a Pakistani woman and an artist who focuses on women empowerment, over time she has built up an audience through her social media who know and love her work. She decided to do a series on Pakistani women who have accomplishments that need to be celebrated, to showcase pride in her heritage and her country.

“It was like a light bulb moment. I wanted to combine my passion for art, writing, and celebrating women, and just bring it in to one book, and that’s how the idea of the book Pakistan for Women came into existence,” said Maliha whose aim has been to put together a book that not only inspires but teaches children too.

When she first started making a list of names for her series, she thought she’d have a maximum of 25, but the list kept growing until it reached almost 80 women. She then realized it had to be more than just a series of artwork.

She started illustrating the most well known names first, like singer Abidah Parveen and the political figure Fatima Jinnah, the women that people commonly already know of. Then, she moved on to some of the lesser known figures such as the firefighter, Shazia Parveen, and Nargis Malvala, the Pakistan-American astrophysicist. 

A collage of six illustrations of Pakistani women featured in "Pakistan for Women", showing Samina Baig, Noor Jehan, Asma Jahangir, Zenith Irfan, Noreena Shams, and Abidah Parveen.
[Image description: A collage of six illustrations of Pakistani women featured in “Pakistan for Women”, showing Samina Baig, Noor Jehan, Asma Jahangir, Zenith Irfan, Noreena Shams, and Abidah Parveen.] Via @pakistanforwomen on Instagram
“There were moments where I felt very overwhelmed, because when you’re writing about such incredible women. it’s like a responsibility. You need to tell their origin story in the right way, to do justice to their stories. You cannot just illustrate them and write about them,” she explained, recalling instances where she had to illustrate a profile more than once like Abidah Parveen’s which entailed four reworks.

At times like these, my father and husband kept me sane,” she added, crediting them as her rocks throughout the whole process. They not only gave her the encouragement she needed but also gave her honest constructive criticism instead of just hollow encouragements.

In Desi culture, there are many people who stop girls from doing something because they are girls or want them to become someone else just so they can get married.

Maliha wants people – largely women in Pakistan and those outside as well to showcase a positive side of the country – to read these stories and realize that if given the chance or the resources, women can make, not just their lives, but the lives of millions around them better as well.

“I would like everyone reading this book to feel inspired because these women come from a country where a lot of people think that women don’t have a lot of rights, and women are supposed to be oppressed,” explained Maliha.

“That is the reality in many parts of Pakistan, I will not deny that, but at the same time there are amazing stories of women who rose above everything and broke glass ceilings.

“The message is about connecting to your heritage and being proud because most of the time it’s easy to take your home country for granted. But if we keep a positive reminder in front of us then we can criticize it in a healthy way in order for us to be better while also appreciating it,” she added.

Maliha also believes that this book will be a good influence for the female population of Pakistan and has already “gotten so many messages from people saying ‘reading this book has changed my perception of Pakistan and how I see Pakistani women.’ And I think that’s an incredible feeling. I honestly feel so proud every time I read such messages,” she said.

“At times women may think they’re not capable of doing something just because they’re women. There’s so much social and societal pressure as well, so I do not doubt that for a second that they will be able to see themselves as powerful just because there are other women who are so powerful within Pakistan,” she added.

“Dear women,” wrote Maliha in Pakistan for Women, “please know you are amazing, you are fearless, you are incredible, you are unbeatable. Being a woman is your biggest strength.”

Pakistan for Women is available for purchase on Amazon UK.

Pssst… have you heard of our reading challenge? We’re also on Goodreads – come say hello!

Comics Pop Culture

I used to love reading Archie comics as a kid, until I recognized the harm they’re doing

I used to be a huge Archie Comics fan. I got it from my dad, who grew up reading a whole lot of comics about the Riverdale gang. There was a whole bunch of comics that he passed down to me and I devoured them. I read a lot of the content and didn’t think twice about much of it. Now though, I don’t read Archie Comics much anymore. The material feels dated to me.

The jokes in these comics are largely predictable. I’ve read Archie Comics dating back decades, thanks to my dad’s extensive collection. The sense of humor is by and large the same now as it was 50 years ago.

But something else has started bothering me in recent years. There seems to be a pattern of chauvinistic, sexist, toxic masculinity in them that’s being written off as funny. And I don’t know how that is still okay.

Some of the themes of Archie Comics leave me wanting to throw them out the window. Now I know this is a stronger reaction than a funny children’s comic is supposed to warrant, but I can’t believe these stories are still being written. Here are some of the themes that really need to stop:

1. Betty’s desperation to win Archie’s affection 

image description: A comic strip showing Betty repairing Archie's car while he asks her to hurry so Veronica isn't kept waiting
[Image description: A comic strip showing Betty repairing Archie’s car while he asks her to hurry so Veronica isn’t kept waiting.] Via Archie Comics
Something a lot of Betty’s stories revolve around is being a doormat for Archie. She’ll basically do anything it takes to get his attention. Fixing his car, helping him with homework, cooking for him, and helping him in any other way she possibly could, only to be casually thanked and then left behind for Veronica. And in the stories where Archie comes back to her in the end, it’s usually because Veronica rejected him. The only thing consistent is that she is never his first choice. And yet story after story we keep seeing her chasing after him.

2. Betty and Veronica are best friends, until Archie comes along

image description: a comic strip
[Image description: A comic strip of Betty and Veronica fighting over Archie.] Via Betty and Veronica Digest
The competition between Betty and Veronica goes completely against the idea of them being best friends. There are stories where they are shown to be doing great things for each other, and then others where Veronica is being catty and putting Betty down and they’re having fights over Archie. And these are best friends? You can’t portray girls acting like this anymore. And there are often stories that will end with them declaring that no matter what either of them achieves, winning Archie’s affection is the only “real prize” that matters.

image description: a comic strip from an Archie comic
[Image description: A comic strip about Miss Riverdale.] Via Archie Comics
image description: Archie comic strip
[Image description: Archie comic strip about girls competing for boys] Via Archie Comics
image description: a strip from Archie comics
[Image description: A strip from Archie comics about boys being more important than prizes.] Via Archie Comics

3. Archie lets two girls openly fight over him while still dating other girls

image description: a page from an Archie comic
[Image description: Archie being an asshole to Betty.] Via Archie Comics Digest
This main character is an open playboy. He knows that there are two girls who are best friends that are constantly fighting for him; he lets it happen without trying to stop it and still goes around drooling over any girl he can and dating anyone that would date him. And yet he is still supposed to be the adorable nice guy.

4. There are often sexist comments and these are sometimes the whole punchline

image description: A panel from an Archie comic
[Image description: A misogynist panel from an Archie comic.] Via Archie Comics
There are some constantly recurring themes in the comic that irritate me to no end: the toxic masculinity, the misogyny and the plain disrespect. Themes that clearly the writers have been carrying forward since the beginning of the comics and even now, in this day and age, don’t make any attempt to renew or change.

The male characters very often make sexist comments about girls, often insulting women who don’t look like Barbie dolls, and hold old-fashioned gender stereotypes and ideas. The story will rarely do anything to change this.

I honestly don’t see how this comic book series is still going and who is letting this go unchecked. This is a pretty famous series. They should use fame to educate, not insult. I promise you that your current readers are going to appreciate it, because I for one do not want to keep picking up comic books that I used to love and keep getting offended by sexist punchlines and chauvinistic attitudes that would do better to be left behind in the 40’s.

image description: comic strip from Archie comics
[Image description: A comic strip about girls not rooting for other girls.] Via Archie Comics Digest
Comic books, especially iconic ones, need to do better. Spread healthy ideas about friendships and relationships. In this day and age they still write about fighting over boys, letting a guy use you or valuing a guy more than your friend, and continue to draw girls with one body type unless they’re being made fun of or being shown as unattractive.

image description: a comic strip showing Archie and a friend making fun of ugly girls
[Image description: A comic strip showing Archie and a friend making fun of ugly girls.] Via Archie Comics
A lot of their readers are teenagers and if you portray teenagers behaving this way without any hesitation, you will either raise a readership that grows up thinking these toxic behaviors are how things are supposed to be, or male chauvinists who chuckle at these jokes wishing that’s how things were.

Or in my case, you’ll lose faithful readers altogether.

Health Care The Vulvasation Love + Sex Love

Things that everyone with a vag should definitely know

Vulvasations is a Tempest Love exclusive series dedicated to spreading awareness about the female reproductive system, debunking myths about periods and dissecting everything vajayjay related. Let’s talk about vaginas!

I recently came across a series of paintings done by a brilliant artist named Jacqueline Secor. The pictures made me do a double take because what looked like floral textures at first, were in fact, vaginas. It was a series of work depicting floral renderings of female genitalia.

What was intriguing about these pictures wasn’t that they were female genitals painted in flowery patterns, but how different they looked from each other. It didn’t look like the same thing done in different styles. There was a noticeable difference between them.

image description: A series of nine artworks in a grid showing floral depictions of vulvas
[Image description: A series of nine artworks in a grid showing floral depictions of vulvas] via Jacquelinesecorart on Instagram
I previously believed that vaginas looked all the same. In hindsight, I’m surprised at my naivete.

Now, we already know women should explore themselves more, and I truly believe that. The statement that the vagina is the most talked about and least understood part of the body, doesn’t just apply to men.

In theory, you know what a vulva is, but would you be able to pick yours out of a line-up? If you can’t, then maybe you should work on that. Why don’t you grab a mirror and take a good look?

I’m not saying you should start researching vagina pictures (unless that helps you).

However, a first good step would be to remove the preconceived notion of what a vagina should look like, and instead, recognize how different each one can be.

Why is it important to appreciate and understand the variety in vaginas? Because the more you appreciate the beauty of your body, the less likely you are of looking for that validation from someone else. Self-love and acceptance are incredibly empowering.

The failure to recognize, embrace and love yourself the right way, can have greater consequences than just misrepresentation and unawareness. It can lead to psychological distress and at times, even a severe condition known as body dysmorphia or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder which causes individuals to obsess over an aspect of their appearance relentlessly, even if the perceived flaw is non-existent or insignificant. Falling for a media-based view of the perfect vulva can cause people to feel genital dysmorphia. They could find themselves making the desperate leap to cosmetic surgery, an industry which is more than happy to sell you the idea of perfection by going under the knife.

Plastic surgeons currently perform two kinds of corrective surgeries on genitals:

1. Vaginoplasty: A procedure to make your vagina tighter. It may also include the removal of some external skin for a more aesthetic appearance.

2. Labiaplasty: The surgical modification of the labia. The clitoral hood, the lips at the entrance of the vagina, and pubic lifts or reductions.

These surgeries can have serious side effects and might not treat the actual source of the problem: that there was nothing wrong with the appearance of your vagina in the first place, it was deeper rooted than that.

Plastic surgeons claim they’re going to make a patient’s genitalia “more appealing.” But to who? Are they trying to meet other people’s expectations, or is the media feeding you the idea of what a vagina should look like – without you even knowing?

If you need some realistic insight into this, please understand the porn industry is definitely NOT going to help you. Neither are pictures of genitals represented as neat little fruits and flowers.

image description: sliced fruit on purple silk
[Image description: sliced fruit on purple silk] via Charles on Unsplash
There are some amazing artists who have done alluring pieces of work similar to this that are worth looking up. There is also a captivating and thought-provoking documentary called 100 Vaginas.

The film is a very up close and personal look at vulvas and people with vulvas openly talking about them and their experiences. If you get a chance to watch this, do it, and understand that it will change you in some significant way by the end.

At least to a point where you won’t feel like you want to run and hide every time there’s a full-blown vulva on your screen.

image description: a woman is smiling while holding a camera between an open pair of legs
[image description: a woman is smiling while holding a camera between an open pair of legs] via IMDB
In the documentary, one woman said “It’s [the vulva’s] physical appearance and makeup is rarely discussed. And while we are taught endlessly about the blood, birth, and pain it will bring to us, its potential for pleasure is only ever really noted in relation to others. We live in a society that treats women entirely like a cock pocket.”

There are many diverse types of vulvas, and all of them are beautiful.

And if your V doesn’t look the way you thought she should, trust me, she’s still lovely, and you’re still a goddess.

If this is an explorative journey you have yet to take, I highly encourage you to try. It’s empowering, and you can never have too much of that.

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Editor's Picks Work Career Career Advice Now + Beyond

10 painful but necessary steps to take when you lose your job

Immediately after you’ve been let go, you may find yourself experiencing a range of emotions: panic upon saying goodbye to a regular paycheck, exhilaration as you embrace life without a set routine, rage when you reflect on all the long hours you devoted to your former position—the list goes on. Rather than get caught up in each of these, recognize that they’re all normal.

For the purposes of this article, let’s not use the term “fired” or any of its synonyms. Consider yourself currently “in transition”, “between jobs”, or “actively seeking employment”, to represent your advancement. The following is a painful but crucial to-do list anyone who’s been laid off should follow, based on my experience:

1. Acknowledge your emotions.

image description: cartoon personifications of emotion, joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear, jump up one by one
[Image description: cartoon personifications of the emotions joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear, jump up one by one.] via Giphy
You will go through a phase of jumbled emotions. Acknowledge your feelings completely, know they are valid and let them go. You need time to heal and that’s okay. You’re not expected to jump into searching for a new job immediately. Take care of yourself first.

2. Create a budget.

image description: a girl counts money then puts some in a piggy bank
[Image description: a cartoon of a girl counting money then putting some in a piggy bank.] via Giphy
Be responsible about your finances right now. Calculate what you’ve got, your expenses, where you can cut back, and create a budget. Until you’re back on the horse, you will have to regulate your spending.

3. Accept reality and grow from it.

image description: Rafiki is saying to Simba "Ah yes, the past can hurt, But the way I see it, is that you can either run from it or, learn from it."
[Image description: Rafiki is saying to Simba “Ah yes, the past can hurt, But the way I see it, is that you can either run from it or, learn from it”.] via Giphy
Evaluate your loss and your potential gain. Use this as a learning opportunity. Take a look back and figure out what your weaknesses were, where you could improve and what you could’ve done differently. Assess how you’ve changed since your last job. Maybe you are more qualified to go after a better position or you want different things now. Look at this as a new beginning, in which you are better equipped to go after your goals.

4. Find a mentor.

image description: a woman is saying "I got the best ear in the business"
[Image description: a woman is saying “I got the best ear in the business”.] via Giphy
Reach out to someone who has the kind of success or knowledge you want. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. This person could be a valuable resource. A good mentor can guide you in the right direction and give you experienced feedback. It’s smart to have a mentor and keep one even when you’re employed.

5. Make a career plan.

[image description: a person is writing in their journal 'conquer this year'
[Image description: a person is writing in their journal ‘conquer this year’.] via Giphy
Define your long-term goals and short-term goals and work out the steps to getting there. This will make your career plan. If suitable, add time frames for each step. Your mentor can help work this out, and give feedback.

Your career plan should be flexible, not written in stone. Don’t be afraid of trying something that isn’t in the plan. Use it more like a tool to keep yourself focused and organized. A career plan is supposed to be a guideline, not a rule book.

6. Research the job market.

[Image description: a newspaper with classified ads with some ads being circled and crossed out.] via Giphy
Gauge the current position of the job market. Whether you’re altering your field or not, the job market is ever-changing, and you will need to be updated. Read about the current situation of the industry. Research into the ‘who’ and ‘what’ they’re looking for and the keywords and skills that are important in the positions you are interested in.

7. Develop your skills.

image description: a cat is reading a book called 'The art of military strategy'
[Image description: a cat is reading a book called ‘The art of military strategy’.] via Giphy
Some abilities you already have could do with refreshing or you might benefit from learning something new. Start some of the online courses you always told yourself you were going to take.

8. Update your resume – and do it right.

image description: a guy in a green shirt is saying "That's an old resume. It should read that I "crushed it" from 2013 to present.
[Image description: a guy in a green shirt is saying “That’s an old resume. It should read that I “crushed it” from 2013 to present.] via Giphy
See what you can change, reword, and present better in your CV. If you’re interested in multiple positions, consider having multiple CVs. A tailored CV that displays the skills that a certain position requires could give you the upper hand that makes employers take notice when your resume falls on their desk.

9. Network, network, network.

[image description: a boy in a bow tie and vest saying "we actually have meetings sometimes, i get to meet people with crazy minds like me"]
[Image description: a boy in a bow tie and vest saying “we actually have meetings sometimes, I get to meet people with crazy minds like me”.] via Giphy
Start putting yourself out there. Reach out to people, talk to friends, go to events that give you a chance to connect with people in the industry and make contacts. Your mentor could also be a good help in this matter by pointing you towards the right events to go to or people to talk to.

The term ‘networking’ is scary to some. But in this age of technology at your fingertips, there are ways to network that even the introvert can get into. Make yourself known. According to a study, over 80% of jobs are found through networking.

10. Keep a positive outlook.

image description: a woman wearing a black suit walks confidently
[Image description: a woman wearing a black suit walks confidently] via Giphy
It makes a difference whether you’re approaching this with a defeatist attitude or going into it smiling. You’ve done the work, you’re prepared, you’ve nothing to fear. Go out there and live your best life! Network, connect, learn, explore and hustle until you’re an expert in your field. Who knows, soon you might start mentoring someone yourself.


Work Career Now + Beyond

I did not make my career mark at my first internship, but I sure as hell grew from it

When I started my internship at a local magazine, I was very excited. This was my first chance to work in a place like this. I was going to learn so much. I was going to be the best intern! Who cares if it’s unpaid? I would learn how to write, edit and conduct interviews. I would learn how articles go from an idea to a draft to print.

Well, it did not go quite like that.

In the beginning, I told myself that this feeling of exclusion came from the fact that most of the staff were already friends or family. The editor-in-chief was the director’s wife, and the rest of the staff was an indication of blatant nepotism. The staff wasn’t even big, with just about 30 people.

For the first few days, I waited for something to do. When I asked people if they needed help with anything, they told me to go back to my seat. After a few days, I was given a database of contacts and told to call each number and check if it was still valid. I suspect this was to keep me out of their way. I figured I’m the new kid and I’ve got to do the drag work to earn my keep.

The previous interns were taken along to help with articles and interviews. I wasn’t. Management intentionally kept me at a distance because they said, “We don’t do that anymore.” During this period of time, I only got to proofread three articles. I went and proposed ideas to my editor. Se told me to go ahead and write them, but never gave any guidance. Nobody in this place considered my work, nor did they tell me why, or how I could have done better. I still kept telling myself that this was a learning opportunity. It would be worth it.

Meanwhile, I saw two of the interns I worked with being used as fashion models. One was a design intern and the other, an advertising intern.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a learning experience the way any internship should be. The staff gave off serious vibes of not wanting anyone around, knowing-it-all but having no interest in teaching anyone anything, and not liking anyone trying to get involved.

Weeks passed this way until one day the director called me into his office and told me to not come back anymore. Surprised, I asked if someone had a problem with me. Was there was someone I could apologize to, or if there was anything I could do. He refused to tell me anything, refused to give me a reason, or even listen to me. He just asked me to leave and not come back anymore.

When you lose a job it’s common to go down a spiral of self-doubt.  Going over everything again and again and wondering, “Was it my fault? What could I have done something differently?”. I was no different. My mind went around in circles the week afterward. I switched from hating the place and everyone in it, to blaming myself for everything, despite not knowing what that “everything” was.

But this is where it’s healthy and important to realize the difference between a learning experience, and a workplace that isn’t worth your time. This experience taught me to be better at trusting my gut when I sensed toxicity. While some may offer well-meaning advice to stay strong through it, I realized it would have better served me to cut some losses and find a better fit. I took responsibility for not following my gut and leaving when I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

Here’s the moral of my story: know the difference between paying your dues and being taken advantage of. Being an intern, even an unpaid one, shouldn’t make you a doormat. So instead of letting someone else devalue you, walk out with confidence.

It’s important to realize that leaving a toxic workplace – whether it is your decision or your employer asks you to leave – does not mean you are incompetent or unsuccessful. It is a small hurdle that will lead you to something even better. What I went through in this experience has served me much better in years going forward, as I worked in various places and dealt with different groups of people and different kinds of bosses.

I know that a good boss, and a good workplace, is one that might bruise your ego, but still feeds your mind.

TV Shows Pop Culture

Pakistani morning shows are toxic for women, and drastically need change

Pakistani morning shows are the staple of morning routines of many a housewife. They’re promoted as fun and informative ways to start the day and are a popular form of Pakistani women’s entertainment, even when they don’t live in Pakistan.

But shows like Jago Pakistan Jago (Wake Up Pakistan Wake Up), Nadia Khan Show and Good Morning Pakistan are probably responsible for spreading the most toxic concepts and condescending ideas about what women should find entertaining and how they should be thinking.

Considering the popularity of these Pakistani morning shows and how big their viewer base is, they could be invaluable resources for empowering women, starting meaningful discussions, and encouraging the breaking of stereotypes. And yet day after day, what we find instead are rehashes of the same ideas, same topics and often outright offensive stereotypical ways of thinking.

The predominant themes among most Pakistani morning shows are marriages, appearances, and gossip. If a show is featuring makeup artists, you can safely bet they’re doing bridal looks. If they’re teaching exercise routines, it’s obviously so you can look good in time for your wedding. And if they’re having pseudo-innovative discussions, it’s about married life.

A recent trend is to call celebrities who have recently gotten married and get them married on set again. These people seriously sit through about 3-5-day marriage functions and relive their weddings for the sake of a morning show, sometimes more than one morning show. Dear God why? Was your real wedding that boring?

And then there are the very problematic and degrading contests. Cleaning and cooking competitions between maids and their employers for money. Contests where beauticians and makeup artists try to make up girls with naturally lighter skin tones in darker shades, because, as a rule, beauticians in Pakistan are never taught to match someone’s skin tone, but always to lighten it. So this was a real challenge. Especially when you’re pretending there are no dark-skinned girls in Pakistan and making light skinned girls wear blackface.

image description: two fair skinned Pakistani girls are wearing bridal dresses with their faces made up in shades much darker than their skin tone
[Image description: Two fair-skinned Pakistani girls are wearing bridal dresses with their faces made up in shades much darker than their skin tone.] Via Facebook
The excuse that the hosts of these shows use to justify this dumbed-down content is that most of their viewers are “uneducated women sitting at home”. This is apparently a good enough reason for them to be given mindless entertainment.

One episode of the morning show Jago Pakistan Jago was outright teaching parents that they shouldn’t trust their children, using justifications such as password-protected phones and dramatized videos of how children could be defying you when they pretend to go to group study or smoking in their bedrooms when they should be studying. The purpose of this? Creating mistrust and suspicion between parents and children to justify snooping.

If these morning shows really hold the impact and high viewership that they claim they do, why not take advantage of your platform to change the stagnant mentality of the so-called “uneducated housewife”? Instead of drumming it into their heads that their only job is to be the best wives they can be, these shows can encourage women and tell them that they are not in fact stuck in one role. That they can still be anything they want to be. That their lives don’t have to be all about makeup, weddings, gossip, and cooking.

The worst part is that while they peddle these mind-numbing topics to the masses, they claim they’re being helpful to them. Giving them access to tips and information that they can’t afford to get otherwise.

What they’re really doing is giving women who look up to them and loyally watch them and admire them the disservice of keeping themselves in their little boxes and making sure their minds don’t do that dangerous thing called thinking outside of the box.

Pakistan is a country that needs bold and forward-thinking women. It needs women who break stereotypes and traditions in favor of conquering the world. In a day and age where people strongly oppose the Aurat March (Women’s March) on International Women’s Day by calling women unethical, shameful and disgraceful for their willingness to walk the streets to protest their rights and fight against the unfair double standards women in Pakistan face every day, you can’t afford to feed women the kind of entertainment that keeps stifling their thinking.

We know change takes time. Morning shows that are by now the epitome of mindless entertainment can’t completely change overnight without losing a huge chunk of their audience. The shift will need to be gradual.

But a complete refusal to step outside the typical for fear of losing viewers is the main reason for the bad reputations of these shows. Don’t feed into the stigma of housewives only being capable of absorbing dumb entertainment. And don’t take advantage of that kind of thinking to promote shows and make money.

We as a nation can do better. We owe it to the strong, smart and courageous women our nation has.

image description: women holding signs and protesting at the Aurat March in Pakistan
[Image description: Women holding signs and protesting at the Aurat March in Pakistan.] Via Dawn News
Comics Pop Culture

It’s about time we say no to the over sexualization of women in graphic novels

Before all the movies started coming out, female superheroes existed in graphic novels. A lot more of them than they bother to make films about (though that could be a different discussion for a different article). And when these heroines were just drawings, artists seemed to have the license to make them as impractical and unrealistic as possible.

Apparently, the fact that they were out there in usually dangerous scenarios is clearly not a good enough reason for them to dress accordingly.

Image description: Graphic novel covers from left to right, Red Sonja, Purgatori, Vampirella, Lady Death
[Image description: Graphic novel covers from left to right, Red Sonja, Purgatori, Vampirella, Lady Death by artists Babs Tarr, Tim Seeley, Joe Jusko and Mike Krome] via Previewsworld
But who can argue about the merits of self-preservation over appealing to the male gaze?

I love female superheroes. I even like the sex-appeal of their costumes. If they were going to a sexy Halloween party. But honestly speaking, there is absolutely no reason to fight crime or put yourself in dangerous situations and think to yourself “a skin-tight latex costume is my best option here”.

image description: three images of Black Canary in latex costumes
[Image description: three images of Black Canary in latex costumes] via Wikimedia Commons
Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel safe going to the park with that little on me.

And let’s not forget, that with the exception of ‘mutant’ women like the She Hulk, it looks very much like the only muscle these women have in their body is either in their ass or their breasts. And a whole lot of it.

The reason for this could be that comic books initially considered straight boys and men to be their primary audience. But these women are main characters who save the world, they’re not the Mary Jane and Lois Lane category of women who are there for the main characters to have some kind of damsel in distress or pretty face to care about. And mind you, those love interest women were not over-sexualized.

So why do these women, who are out there kicking ass and fighting crime and being protagonists and antagonists and heroes and villains, need to be sexualized? Is it because they wouldn’t be taken seriously otherwise? Or is it because women can’t keep the attention of a male audience unless they’re sexually appealing?

Maybe that explains why these women never have their hair up and why, even after all the tackling and tumbling, you never see a hair out of place. Because that just wouldn’t be pretty.

I understand why once comic books needed to appeal to a male readership, I also understand that comic books are both about the story and the artwork and need to be visually appealing to be the complete attractive package.

But in this day and age, this industry shouldn’t get away with old excuses and cheap tricks to sell comics. Times have changed and so have readers. It’s the industry’s turn to catch up.

And as a sidebar, it might be time for the male audience to grow up. Instead of making dumb comments about the women from Mortal Kombat losing their sex appeal and the new Tomb Raider being a disappointment because Lara Croft isn’t curvy enough anymore.

This is no longer the time when graphic novels only cater to one type of audience. There are now readers from all over the world, of all genders, sexualities and age groups who this industry attracts. So I want them to try representation and diversity and discover that these characters will still be loved and celebrated.

I want to see women of color, of different sizes, women with flaws, and with varying hair and body types. And clothes. I want to see women in armor. The right kind of protection for the very dangerous situations they find themselves in.

After writing my entire master’s thesis on women in graphic novels and doing some research and writing an entire manuscript of a graphic novel with a female lead who was always fully dressed, I want to see the same change in this industry. Show me their strength of character and less of their skin.

Because I love female superheroes, however underrepresented they may be in our media. Their writers do not shy away from creating strong characters. These women are tough, soft, gentle, strong, mean, kind, lonely, fragile, ruthless and vengeful and just as formidable as allies, opponents, fighters and leaders as their male counterparts.

It’s about time we start seeing them as just as human.

[image description: a group of female superheroes] via planet
[image description: a group of female superheroes] via planet
Book Reviews Books Pop Culture

Why reading ‘A Man Called Ove’ can change how you see the people you don’t like

Fredrik Backman’s debut novel A Man Called Ove (2012) was my first pick from The Tempest Reading Challenge 2019, and it was definitely a good book to start off with.

This book, written in Swedish, was selected for the category of ‘a book that was originally in another language’. In a Goodreads interview Backman says he doesn’t like to interfere with too much with his translator’s work . I have to say I felt that the book wasn’t lost in translation. I came out of this experience a very happy customer.

This book is about Ove, who is the classic definition of a grumpy old man. Ove is a total stickler for rules and guidelines and believes everyone else should strictly adhere to them too. Which is why he believes he’s surrounded by idiots. For all appearances, Ove is the neighborhood curmudgeon who will go out of his way to set others straight. However, as the story unfolds, readers discover there is much more to him than meets the eye.

This book shatters the idea that you can understand a person from outward appearances. As difficult a character as Ove tried to be, I would be very surprised if readers didn’t fall in love with him by the time the story ends.

This book had the ability to make me laugh and, within the same chapter, make me sad. I sympathized with Ove, (and not just because I already feel like an old man at the age of 28).

A Man Called Ove has some hilarious scenarios, brought about by how the sometimes interfering and eagerly friendly neighbors contrasted with Ove’s strict demeanor and his unwillingness to socialize. Ove’s lonely lifestyle starts to crumble with the introduction of his new neighbors, a happy outgoing family that refuses to be put off by his attitude and despite his best efforts, wants to bond with him.

The story also deals with its fair share of sadness. It deals with loss, illness, unfairness, and loneliness. And in the midst of it all, a man who has lost the will to keep living and wants to end his life. I am not the kind of person who cries when reading, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get overwhelmed with feelings at certain points in the book.

One of the beautiful facets to the writing was how Backman made a character that wasn’t there, Ove’s deceased wife Sonja, be a constant in the story. From the way Ove could imagine what she would say about a situation, to his conversations with her whenever he went to her grave, to the way her presence was still felt around the house. It was a great example of how to keep a character in the story without them actually being in the story.

Read this book if:

You want to read something that isn’t heavy but still holds depth. If you want to or would like to see people from a new perspective. Especially those individuals that people have a tendency to dislike by prejudice. Read this book if you feel like there’s still hope for everyone to learn to love again.

What this book would taste like:

Digestive biscuits. The original ones. Turns out to be a lot sweeter than you expect.

Notable quotes:

  1. “And then they both stand there, a fifty-nine-year-old and the teenager, a few yards apart, kicking at the snow. As if they were kicking a memory back and forth, a memory of a woman who insisted on seeing more potential in certain men than they saw in themselves.” (page 227)
  2. “One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.” (page 325)
  3. “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.” (page. 45)
  4. “Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.” (page 131)
  5. “We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and we stand there holding on to words like “if”.” (page 282)

Bonus points for:

  1. The beautifully written chapter that outlines how the cars two men choose to buy symbolize the stages of their life and the breaking apart of their friendship.
  2. The writer’s colorful ways of describing  Ove looking at things and people:
  • Ove gives the box a skeptical glance, as if it’s a highly dubious sort of box, a box that rides a scooter and wears tracksuit pants and just called Ove “my friend” before offering to sell him a watch.
  • Ove looks at the book more or less as if it just sent him a chain letter insisting that the book was really a Nigerian prince who had a “very lucrative investment opportunity” for Ove and now only needed Ove’s account number “to sort something out.”
  • Ove looks at him a little as if Mirsad had stopped him in a pedestrian arcade, dressed up as a pirate, and asked him to guess under which of the three teacups he’s hidden a silver coin.

I don’t often finish a book and say I have no complaints. But in this case, I really don’t. This book was also adapted into a movie in 2015, and while I’m afraid of ruining the perfect experience of the read, I love these characters enough to definitely give it that a shot.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars.

Want more book recommendations? Check out our first ever global Reading Challenge!

Career Now + Beyond

Apparently, you have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to celebrate your success

I recently graduated with my master’s degree. It was the proudest accomplishment of my life. Definitely, a moment I will cherish forever. The only thing I was missing was my family.

Despite how much they wanted to be there, it wasn’t possible because I was graduating in London while they were in Saudi Arabia. We couldn’t afford tickets to fly them all the way to England. They had to watch me graduate on TV, which was still a decent option.

While the expense of flight tickets is not in anyone’s control, the cost of graduation itself is. Graduation is supposed to be one of the happiest events in an individual’s life. It is a moment of achievement and pride, of saying “Look I accomplished something!”. That is why it doesn’t seem right to me how an event like this is used as a money-making opportunity.

Now, granted graduation is a once in a lifetime event, and something that a lot of students have probably been saving for. But as an overseas student, I can’t help but feel that spending this much, after getting a degree that already cost me almost thrice as much as a local student pays, seems highly unfair.

1. The graduation fee

a woman says to a girl who is sleeping leaning against a bar
[image description: A woman says to a girl who is sleeping leaning against a bar “Helga, I need your five dollars for the entrance fee] Via Giphy
When a student applies to graduate, they have to pay a non-refundable fee, regardless of whether the student decides to attend the ceremony or receive their degree remotely. This might also include the cost of having your degree mailed to you if you decide not to attend the ceremony. This can range from $35 to upwards of $75 depending on the university.

2. The graduation gown

a man wearing blue graduation gown and cap holds the gown down as the wind blows it upwards
[image description: A man wearing blue graduation gown and cap holds the gown down as the wind blows it upwards] via Giphy
The gown is an essential part of the graduation ceremony. It gives a dignified look and the color symbolizes the field of study and the level of the graduate (bachelors, masters etc). These are usually rented which ranges from upwards of $50 to $100. And then, you know, never used again for any other reason than maybe a Halloween costume or Harry Potter re-enactment.

3. The graduation photograph

a woman in a black gown says "All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."
[image description: A woman in a black gown says “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”] Via Giphy
These are the formal photographs taken of you in your gown at the ceremony. You can buy one individual copy of your photograph, or ‘packages’ of various sizes of one or more photographs, individually or with your family, which you also have the choice to laminate or frame within elaborate frames of mahogany or silver. Depending on the kind of package you choose, your graduation photo could end up costing between $50 to $250.

4. Graduation souvenirs

 a group of people crowd around a souvenir stand and say
[Image Description: A group of people crowd around a souvenir stand and say “I’ll pay anything!”] Via Giphy
If you choose to, you can buy a memento of your graduation or of your university itself. Souvenirs can come in many varieties such as toys, plaques, rings or other forms of jewelry. These can range from $35 to $300. You don’t really need these things, but they’re shiny and beautiful and will have your University logo on it. You’ll probably be making up all kinds of stories on why you should buy a few.

5. Guest tickets

a pair of hands hold up Willy Wonka's golden ticket
[Image Description: a pair of hands hold up Willy Wonka’s golden ticket] Via Giphy
And if you’re lucky enough to have them, the cost of guest tickets, which will vary according to the venue and the university. On the one hand, you’re lucky if you have guests who want to attend your graduation, on the other, you kind of save a lot of money if you don’t.

A mixed blessing.

Universities should encourage students to pursue higher education. A degree is a matter of pride. But what does it say when, at the end of it all, the graduation ceremony seems more like the last opportunity these institutions have left to take your money?

I am not trying to be ungrateful. I am highly appreciative of my degree and my university. But there is room for improvement when it comes to the costs of a graduation ceremony. Universities could make the effort to lower the costs when it comes to a students’ graduation. Last year in the Philippines, more than 33,000 students graduating from elementary and high schools received a graduation subsidy from the government. The world should implement more of those kinds of ideas. It would make a beautiful gesture from governments and educational institutions to encourage and promote higher education.

Let’s remove any obstacles we can that might scare others off before they even consider it. After all, shouldn’t we be trying to reward people for this academic triumph in their lives so that more will have the courage to follow?

Tech Now + Beyond

13 free online courses to grow your tech skills

Here’s a list of some pretty useful tech courses you can take to either add a great portfolio to your CV or just be a more well rounded candidate jobs:

1. JavaScript at Codeacademy

image description: a black computer screen showing rows of code
[image description: a black computer screen showing rows of code] via Markus Spiske on Unsplash
This program will teach you the fundamentals of programming JavaScript, which is one of the common languages in programming for websites. You will be able to master it through quizzes and tests and create portfolios that will allow you to display your newfound skill.

Prerequisites: None

Duration: 15 hours

2. Make a website at Codeacademy

image description: a man is sitting in front of two computer screens designing a page
[image description: a man is sitting in front of two computer screens designing a page] via Campaign creators on Unsplash
This is a short seven-hour course to learn how to build a website from scratch using HTML and CSS. You can learn through quizzes and build a website for your portfolio in the process.

Prerequisites: None

Duration: 7 hours

3. Java tutorial for complete beginners at Udemy 

image description: a keyboard with lit up keys and a black screen showing coding
[image description: a keyboard with lit up keys and a black screen showing coding] via Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash
This class is designed for anyone with no prior programming knowledge. And a desire to learn Java. The course is administered through video lectures, downloadable resources and articles.

Prerequisites : None

Duration: 16 hours

4. Learn Adobe Photoshop from scratch at Udemy

image description: a laptop screen showing an image of beakers being edited on photoshop
[image description: a laptop screen showing an image of beakers being edited on photoshop] via Sarah Pflug on Burst
This course is from people who want to learn Photoshop from the ground up. This practical course focus on the most important photoshop techniques and follows a unique task based pedagogy which is great for beginners and intermediate learners alike. It has downloadable material, article and on demand videos. There is also a certificate upon completion of the course.

Duration: 8 hours/ 36 lectures

5. Professional logo design in Adobe Illustrator at Udemy

image description: a notebook with some logos drawn on it and a phone on its pages is resting on a table with notepad, pencils, books and a laptop
[image description: a notebook with some logos drawn on it and a phone on its pages is resting on a table with notepad, pencils, books and a laptop] via Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash
Learning how to make a logo for a brand. This course will deconstruct challenging logos to explain how they work. Build a killer company brand by making a logo that stands out. Here’s how to use Illustrator to do it. The course offers 7.5 hours on-demand videos, 42 downloadable resources and certificate upon completion.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of illustrator, as the course is a bit advanced.

Duration: 7 hours, 22 minutes/ 45 lectures

6. Adobe InDesign made easy : A beginner’s guide to InDesign at Udemy

image description: a tablet is resting on a white table and a hand holding a smart pen is drawing on it
[image description: a tablet is resting on a white table and a hand holding a smart pen is drawing on it] via dose media on Unsplash
The absolute beginners guide to using Adobe InDesign, which can often seem intimidating to starters. The course uses videos, downloadable resources and articles to make it seem less so. Also offers certificate upon completion.

Duration: 11 hours/ 105 lectures

7. Intro to Java Programming at Udacity

image description: a white laptop shows a white screen with lines of code
[image description: a white laptop shows a white screen with lines of code] via Artem Sapegin on Unsplash
An introduction to Java syntax for beginners. A good place to start to learn from professionals in the industry. Along with content, students are also given access to a student support community and interactive quizzes.

Duration: 6 weeks

8. Diploma in C programming at Alison 

image description: a desk is seen from above with a desktop on it and a how to book along with sketches of a phone and a pencil
[image description: a desk is seen from above with a desktop on it and a how to book along with sketches of a phone and a pencil] via UX store on Unsplash
One of the programming languages that every computer programmer has to learn eventually. C is one of the most popular and widespread programming languages. Upon completing this course, you’ll learn everything from functions, methods, and routines to variables, arrays, and pointers. You will have assessments. And you get certification upon completion. Due to the nature of this program this might not be the first stop for a complete beginner to start off with.

Prerequisites: Basic understanding of programming languages and how they work

Duration: 10-15 hours

9. An introduction to interactive programming in Python (Part 1) at Coursera

image description: a man is holding a post it up to the camera with the words "Python" written on it
[image description: a man is holding a post it up to the camera with the words “Python” written on it] via Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash
Anyone with a knowledge of high school mathematics is welcome to take this class, taught at Rice University. To make learning Python easy, instructors of this course built a new browser-based programming environment. You’ll learn to build simple, interactive games like Pong, Blackjack, and Asteroids.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 7-10 hours a week/ 5 weeks

10. Build complete web and hybrid mobile solutions at Coursera

image description: a mobile phone is resting on a table with rows of code showing on its screen
[image description: a mobile phone is resting on a table with rows of code showing on its screen] via Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash
Taught by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, this course will teach you how to create hybrid mobile applications using Bootstrap (Front-End Framework), Ionic (Mobile App Framework), Node.Js and Angularjs. There is a hands-on project that will help you master your ability. You have the option to earn a certificate, when you finish every course and complete the hands-on project, showcasing your achievement.

Prerequisites: Although no previous experience in HTML, CSS, and Javascript is necessary, the instructors note that it would be helpful to have some type of prior programming knowledge.

Note: free with trial

Duration: Approximately 7 months.

11. HTML5 coding essentials and best practices at edX

image description: there is a table in front of a bright window that has a desktop computer on it
[image description: there is a table in front of a bright window that has a desktop computer on it] via Aral Tasher on Unsplash
In this course, taught by the World Wide Web Consortium (also known as W3C), you will learn all the new HTML5 features to help create great Web sites and applications in a simplified but powerful way. You’ll learn to use the new simplified HTML5 tags, animate fun web graphics, and practice coding techniques through multiple interactive exercises.

Duration: 6 weeks/ 6-8 hours a week

12. Beginner’s guide to image editing in Photoshop at Pluralsight

 a laptop shows  a picture of a beach open for editing
[image description: a laptop shows a picture of a beach open for editing] via Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash
This collection of lessons, you will get step-by-step videos instructions for photo editing with Photoshop. This was short course was made using beginners in mind so you will learn a lot of basic techniques. You will require Photoshop CS5 or above.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

13. Beginner’s guide to concept sketching at Pluralsight

[image description: a table has a laptop, a container of drink and a sketchpad on it, the sketchpad shows the drawing of a girl] via Max Nelson on Unsplash
Start by learning what concept sketching is and how it can be useful and implemented. From logos, layouts, to character or environment designs. The course uses Adobe Photoshop, CS6. Created for new artist and using step by step videos, you’ll learn the fundamentals of each of these forms.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

With all these options available, you’re really out of excuses as to why you didn’t yet take the course you always said you were going to. Get on it and make your resume shine!