ABU DHABI // Despite having graduated with flying colours, Hanan Shemaili and Asma Al Rashedi struggled to find jobs after studying information technology at UAE University two years ago. And so they came to the same conclusion - to continue their education.
Now, Ms Shemaili, from Ras Al Khaimah, and Ms Al Rashedi, from Al Ain, are among the first seven Emirati graduates of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, part of a batch of 72 students who graduated this summer.
Emiratis have shown increasing interest in enrolling at Masdar Institute since the first seven recruits joined the programme. They now make up 40 per cent of the student body.
The women, both in their 20s, describe their time at the institute as rewarding.
"The research experience was really interesting," said Ms Al Rashedi, who investigated how brain signals can be used to operate computer devices, potentially benefiting disabled people.
While she said she was not completely satisfied with the courses that made up her master's degree in computing and information science, the benefits of being at Masdar went beyond mere academic skills.
"There were people from many other countries, so you come to know about others and their lifestyle and how they think," she said.
Two years ago, Ms Al Rashedi applied for a job at the Abu Dhabi Education Council but wasn't successful. After earning her master's, they contacted her and she has worked there for a month as a research assistant, examining data about school performance and satisfaction levels.
"Having a master's degree in computing is very important for this job because it is all about analysis," she said.
Ms Shemaili said her experience also went beyond academics. "It was my first time to study in an international environment," said Ms Shemaili, who was the only woman to serve on the student governing body at Masdar Institute.
"It taught me how to be a critical thinker and solve problems," she said.
The 26-year-old has since decided to switch out of computing and is instead working as a trainee financial analyst at Mubadala. She is preparing to take the chartered financial analyst examination on December 3.
"To be successful in life you have to be hard-working and you have to like what you do," she said.