After two years of management training, Amna Ahmad, 25, has recently completed the BT graduate scheme. She graduated from Loughborough University in 2004, with a degree in information management and computing. She is Muslim and her faith involves her praying up to five times a day.
What’s your background?
Because being Muslim is a way of life for me, it also affects how I govern myself in almost every situation. I practise my religion as much as I can. That means praying up to five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan and only eating Halal food. At work, for example, if colleagues were to go out for drinks after work, I wouldn’t go because my religion means I can’t drink and so I don’t want to be around a drinking environment.
How did you handle your job hunt?
I didn’t take my religion into consideration when I applied for jobs. But when I went to the assessment centre for BT – which was one of the companies I applied to – I found myself particularly impressed with the cross section of people there. I thought if this kind of emphasis on diversity exists within the company, then it will hopefully be a good place to work. When I got accepted onto more than one scheme, it was BT that I chose partly because of that. Later, when I had settled into the job, I heard through other graduates that some people were thinking of creating a BT Muslim network. I was keen to get involved. Not only has it been a good way to get to know other colleagues with the same faith, but it has also enabled us to help educate people about Islam. We’ve also managed to get prayer rooms in all the major BT buildings – not just for Muslims, but for anyone taking time to reflect or pray.
Did you face any barriers?
I don’t believe the graduate recruitment world is completely rosy and I am sure there is discrimination out there, but I think there are also a huge number of employers that would never be prejudiced. I certainly didn’t feel I came across any discrimination. I felt that if I didn’t get a job, it would be because of my lack of skills or experience in that field, rather than anything to do with being Muslim.
Any tips for fellow graduates?
Having the designated space of a prayer room has been a huge benefit because it means I can get on with my work, rather than thinking about where I will pray later on. I think it’s a good thing to look for in an employer, but I don’t think people should get too concerned with thinking about religion when looking for a job. Just go for it like anyone else.