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PhD Scientist Still Jobless After 2 Years

Share Your Story: Share Your Unemployment Story

By Mona Abdallah

The job I lost

I come from a Middle-Eastern environment where women were not expected to work outside the home. My parents encouraged me to get an education. I excelled in school and I got BS and MS Biology degrees in Jordan. I got my PhD degree in the US. I was a teacher, postdoctoral researcher, Assistant Professor and Sr. Scientist in the Biotech Industry. I worked around 13 years after my PhD. I was unemployed for 4 months after the layoff from my first industry job in 2005 where I worked for 5 years. I have been without work now for 2 years after working in my last job for almost 3 years.

What it's like being unemployed

At first I thought it would be easy to find a new opportunity. I am educated and I have job experiences both in academics and industry. I am Bilingual and a native speaker of English and I speak Arabic well. I have many other skills such as being financially wise, a great affinity with animals especially parrots, and a love of cooking and gardening. I am extremely comfortable with learning how to operate electronic devices from video cameras and DVD recorders to cell phones and computers. I love photography. I am an outgoing person with a strong personality. I had nothing to worry about did I?

Well life is a lot harder than I ever imagined. I have been through a lot already but it only seems to continue to get worse. I had lost my 30 year old brother in 1993. I lost my 63 year old mother in 1999 and my grandmother in 2000. I lost my 67 year old father in 2002. In 2007-2008 I lost 2 cousins in their 30s, 2 uncles and 2 aunts. My cat of more than 12 years also died of cancer in 2007. Work was keeping me busy and supporting my basic needs. Suddenly that was gone too.

I'm grieving the loss of my family and pet. I'm grieving the loss of my job. It has been 2 years. I will have no more unemployment checks coming in next month because I will be a 99er who has exhausted all benefits. I am sending out resumes every week and those rejection emails and letters keep coming. I just had an interview for a temp position after 6 months since my last interview. I don't know what else to do. I cycle between hope and despair. I am confused. Should I move out of my apartment to a room? My beloved birds are all I have. I can't lose them. My savings are dwindling. How much longer can I afford my huge health insurance premiums? What happened to my American dream? I got my US citizenship in 2007. I was so happy and so proud that I am now a part of this great country "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Where is that now? I am worried about paying my basic bills. I don't know how much longer it will be? Will I ever get a job? At this point I am willing to do any honest job to earn money to live. I am praying the New Year will bring employment to everyone that needs it and that the people of our great country will rise and prosper again like they did from the great depression. I need to hold on to the hopes and dreams because if I lose them there will be nothing left.


  • We can live with a lot less. Stick to the bare necessities. You have more time to spend with friends and family. Be appreciative of what God has given you. Enjoy the simple beauty like a walk on the beach, and the sound of the wind rustling in the trees. Know that life is a balance. Maybe God forced a stop to our stressed busy lifestyles to make us stop and smell the flowers. I am dealing better with my grief and hoping for a bright future. We are still the best country on earth. If we have the will, we can make it happen. I will keep up my pursuit of happiness. Hold on to your dreams! They will come true again.

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