I love animals and wildlife and it would have been a dream job to be able to work at a place that had something to do with it. When the Dubai Safari Park was announced… I couldn’t control my excitement!!
Around 6 months ago, I embarked on a mission to land a job at the Dubai Safari Park. I went to sleep every day imagining me working at this wonderful, world class facility that was all set to open its doors soon to the public. On some nights I worked with the marketing team, coming up with innovative ideas to increase footfall at the zoo. On some nights I was working with the conservation team working closely with animals and on others I was just spending time with the zookeepers taking care of the animals at the zoo.
Apart from dreaming of it, I actually started a few actual activities to get myself hired.
- I spent a lot of time on research and found out the names, email ids and phone numbers of the main management team of the facility. This resulted in multiple phone calls, SMS and emails to Dr. Reza Khan, the Wildlife Expert of the project; unfortunately it was a dead end. I then shifted my focus to Mr. Tim Husband, Technical Director of the project. I dropped down to his office at the construction site multiple times and was lucky enough to meet him in person and drop off my CV. This was followed by multiple follow up emails and phone calls. He was kind enough to let me know that he has forwarded my CV to the HR department and that they would let me know if I was a fit.
- I also used LinkedIn a lot!! I was extremely serious about it and even opted for a paid account to be able to send Inmails to professionals who were related to the Dubai Safari Park, Dubai Municipality, Al Ain Zoo and Emirates Park Zoo. I messaged them explaining my credentials and my passion for wildlife asking for guidance on who and how to get a meeting with the hiring managers. There were some like Stephen McKeown (Director of Education, Al Ain Zoo) and Mathew Cocks (Education Manager, Al Ain Zoo) who were polite enough to reply back but could not offer any further leads.
- I used WASTA… For those outside the Middle East, Wasta basically means clout. I used various people of importance requesting them to provide me with a contact or to arrange a meeting with the management. The road ended there as well.
- Next step I ran ads… Yes, being an active social media/digital professional I believed that running ads could help me get the notice of the concerned people. I ran ads on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The results were amazing with the reach I was getting but none converted into an actual call or interview. That was AED 1500 down the drain in a sense. Plus a lot of ridicule from friends and professional acquaintances who came across those ads.
- I figured that probably my qualifications were not enough, despite having multiple certifications, a Masters degree, awards and over 9 years of experience to my name. I went ahead and completed a certificate course in Animal Behavior and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh. I repeated all the previous steps again in the hope that this additional feather in my cap would probably show my earnest and commitment to working at The Dubai Safari Park. But no avail.
I was, by now, running out of time and finances. Did I mention, that by this point of time, circumstances were such that I was without a running project? In my focused attempt to have a full time job at the Dubai Safari Park I had not looked at other options. My visa was expiring and I had to choose between a few temp projects that had come up or start hunting for a full time job.
I was also blessed with a baby boy in the interim and had to make a choice. Do I continue my quest to work at a place that would fan my passion or do I turn it off and become the responsible provider for my family?
When you live as an expat in the United Arab Emirates, this choice is actually made for you. I needed a full time job to continue to live legally in this wonderful country. So I made the choice… After 4-5 months of continued effort to land a role at the Dubai Safari Park, I gave it up and accepted a job offer I had.
Now I am almost 2 months into my new job.
I read recently that the opening of the Dubai Safari Park has been deferred by a few months as it was not practically possible to get the animals in because of the extreme temperatures of the Dubai summer. Completely understandable as the animals have to be put through quarantine before they can be introduced to the zoo and bringing the animals here in the peak of summer could be harmful to the animals itself.
This got me thinking again… Is this a sign? Is the universe telling me to keep trying to find work that will actually flame my passion? I am not sure.
All my efforts leading to nothing gave me the impression that maybe I might not fit the profile of what the management is looking for. But, is that a good enough reason for me to stop trying? I think not.
Then I took a call last week…
I have decided to offer my services FREE twice a month (On the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month) to the Dubai Safari Park and Zoo. I am ready to clean enclosures, remove poop, sit at information desks or ticket counters, brainstorm with management, drive the safari jeep, and help during routine medical checkups… anything that will allow me to spend time with the animals.
This will allow me the luxury of keeping a full time job, devote time for family and also find an avenue to keep my passion alive until I am in a position to actually make that a full time career.
I have written to Mr. Tim Husband about the same and I hope to receive a reply to this request.
In case you are reading this, do share this post on LinkedIn or other social media channels so that it may reach someone who can take a call to help me in this regard.
UPDATE: In less than 24 hours of publishing this post, I received a mail from Mr. Tim Husband saying he will put me forward for the voluntary role.