Like many King’s students in their final year, Mohamed Hashem sent out resumes early, hoping to score a job before graduation. But as the school year was winding down he hadn’t heard anything.
So when a call came from Al Jazeera, Mohamed figured it was the official kiss-off.
“It was a cold morning in late March, right at the end of exams,” Mohamed recounts. “The call wasn’t a rejection. They offered me an internship and said ‘Can you be in Doha, Qatar in 10 days?’ I called my family and they were thrilled. I booked my ticket that day.”
Mohamed missed his grad ceremony, but he launched his career as a journalist working in the Middle East.
“From the beginning I wanted to work here. I wanted to be as close to this place as I could,” he says.
With a combined honours degree, journalism and political science, he had exactly what he needed. Mohamed says his time at King’s prepared him for hitting the international stage running.
“King’s gave me the basic skills in journalism that allowed me to go anywhere, get a job in journalism and learn from there.”
As for the political science half, “The work I am most proud of is speaking to the politicians, challenging them and trying to hold them to account and by doing that, challenging myself.”
That first gig, the internship with Al Jazeera, didn’t involve politics but it gave Mohamed the toehold he needed. When it ended, he was hired on full time and moved up in the organization.
“I transferred to Al Jazeera Arabic to their flagship interview program. I was promoted to producer on that show. We would develop an editorial plan for the interviews we did. We interviewed all sorts of politicians and influential people, people such as Turkish president Erdogan. It was very stressful, but it taught me so much and has really helped me in my career.”
Mohamed stayed with Al Jazeera for a couple of years before packing his bags and moving to Istanbul for a job with the Turkish public broadcaster, TRT. While moving to and living in Doha, Qatar had been an easy transition for this Haligonian Istanbul was something else entirely.
“That was the real culture shock,” Mohamed says with a grin. “I am completely bilingual, English and Arabic, but neither language are spoken widely there. I had to quickly learn key phrases in Turkish just to get by.”
At TRT Mohamed helped create an Arabic digital division.
“I eventually headed the social video team which was small. Our job was to push out short-form news content. And after being introduced to this experience in leadership, I later applied for a job with Middle East Eye and moved to London.”
Middle East Eye (MEE) is an independent online news outlet with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Mohamed is a senior producer with MEE, interviewing politicians and newsmakers. It is a dream job.
“My passion comes out when I sit down to interview someone. That is what I love to do, to hear their take on a story. It’s about keeping the story going, developing the ideas, getting others to think about it.”
Mohamed is happy with life and work in London with MEE, but he does not discount coming home one day. Just not right now.