Salma Bekkouche is an Algerian woman who graduated as an Information Technology Engineer, from Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Informatique (ESI) in Algeria. She started her career as a Data Management Engineer and then a Dispatcher at Schlumberger where she gained valuable experience and knowledge in the Oil & Gas industry.
Passionate about communication and working with people, she reoriented her career to Human Resources. Currently, She is Recruiting Assistant at RedMed Group where she is responsible for finding the best perfect fit profiles for different positions in both administration and technical projects.
As a person interested in volunteering, she started her activities when she was a student. In 2012, she founded and led Trésor ESI, an archiving project aimed to provide all students access to ESI’s courses. During her last year studies, she became the president of Sourire à l’Innocence association, a charity club at her university.
Salma likes organizing events and building community programs. She also enjoys working with different associations and groups on different projects such as International Women’s Day 2015, TEDx Ouargla 2016, Wadjihni Career Camp Program and Tawjih Mentoring Program.
In 2018, she was selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State to take part in the TechWomen Program. She spent 3 weeks of professional mentorship at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco where she studied the factors that make Twitter employees happy and fulfilled at their work through her project, “Why #LoveWhereYouWork?”
In 2019, she was selected by Legacy International as a flight chaperone to accompany Algeria participants in the TechGirls Program – an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.
Why did you get into STEM?
When I was a student in high school, I was passionate about mathematics. In my mind, teaching was the only available option to use or practice mathematics. One day, I had a discussion with my classmate passionate about mathematics. He told me about the Computer Engineering School in Algiers Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Informatique (ESI) as a suitable place to apply mathematics theories in Information Technology applications. After my baccalaureate exam, I joined this school in 2010 where I had my first steps in the STEM field.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
I consider my blog “Salma Share” as my greatest achievement. I love writing but I had a big fear to expose my ideas to public. I felt the fear of being criticized by others. I created my blogger account but I couldn’t start. I waited a lot until I could write my first article. In the beginning, I was writing only my experiences. Then, I was contacted by students to receive their questions and inquiries. Thanks to their feedback, I expanded my content and became a journalist who looked for people’s experience in the labor market and studies abroad to share them through my blog (“Salma Share”) and social media accounts: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
I’m currently working to develop an audio-visual content through my YouTube channel “Salma Bekkouche” where I publish my conferences. I talk about my experiences in exchange programs and I host guests to share their professional experience with the Algerian community. You can learn more about it here: https://youtu.be/zL-j2rDcE7c
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
During my studies at ESI ,I was struggling to understand technical courses. I hated programming applications. Through my internship, I discovered that I would never become a Network or System Engineer. On the other side, I was interested in team projects and non-technical courses. I was involved in club’s activities. After graduation, I couldn’t reach my full potential in my first job position (as a Data Management Engineer) which I lost after 8 months due to the Oil & Gas crisis in Algeria.
When I was unemployed, I used this gap to discover new fields different from Information Technology. I joined training in business, communication, career counseling and brand content. Those experiences shaped my career and motivated me to make my decision about career change. I used different psychometric tests to understand that I was born to work in HR or communication.
When I found a Recruiting Assistant job offer on an Algerian job platform, I used my CV and a well written cover letter where I brand myself, together with my volunteering activities, to convince my recruiter that I’m the perfect fit profile that he is looking for. I got the job and I’m happy to collaborate with my employer until today.
If I went back 9 years from now, I would join a STEM field and enroll at the same school (ESI) because it was the place where I learned to work on my soft skills including communication, public speaking, teamwork, working under pressure and logical thinking. Every time I face a new challenge, I develop multiple algorithms to solve the problem, then I choose the best solution that optimizes time, cost and energy.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
If you are a woman or girl who is a beginner in the STEM field, this is my message for you:
- I invite you to know who you are. Take your time to discover your strengths, your weaknesses and your area of improvement. If you are interested in STEM, you’re welcome to join this field.
- If you feel fear, talk to your mentors and role models.
- If you hesitate, ask questions and look for help from experts and books.
- Build your skills through training sessions and online courses.
- Build your network through events and conferences.
- Build your personal branding through social media.
- Live new experiences because they shape your personality and help you reach your full potential.