How Immigrant Women Can Thrive After Career Setbacks: Insights from Aytakin Aliyeva

It is always challenging to handle a career blow, but it multiplies when one is an immigrant woman.

According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute, immigrant women are more likely to work in low-wage, low-skill jobs and face higher unemployment rates compared to their native-born counterparts. 

“Career setbacks start with being laid off, having faced discrimination at the workplace, or being unable to secure employment in a new country,” said Aytakin (lka) Aliyeva, a double gold medalist honored by the Women Changing The World Awards and founder of the Femigrants.

She believes these hurdles can become stepping stones to a stronger future with the right strategies and support.

Having gone through the ordeal herself and having assisted thousands of immigrant women, Aytakin stresses the positive side of transforming these adversities into strengths.

Femigrants is a widely spread community of over 5000 immigrant women who assist the members by providing the necessary job resources, information and contacts for a successful career in a new country. Femigrants provide networking, mentoring, career assistance, and education in order to empower women and help them regain their careers after failure.

Here are some strategies that immigrant women can implement to thrive after career setbacks, based on Aytakin’s own experiences when she moved to the U.S:

1- Embrace Continuous Learning and Adaptation

Self-development is one of the best strategies for recovering from a career failure. As the job market changes over time, it is beneficial to be willing to learn more or even switch to a different field. 

Aytakin emphasizes this in her own journey. Despite her successful career in Azerbaijan, she had to start from scratch in the U.S. After graduating with a degree in social media marketing, she found herself applying for low-paying jobs but was rejected at most places. Yet, she remained composed and continued to learn and adapt. Her dedication to expanding her knowledge eventually led her to roles at top tech companies like Instagram and NVIDIA. 

2- Leverage Your Unique Background and Skills

Your immigrant background is a powerful career asset. Companies value diverse perspectives and the ability to navigate different cultural contexts. Aytakin exemplifies this advantage. Growing up in Azerbaijan and traveling across Europe, she gained rich cultural insights and problem-solving skills. When she moved to the U.S., she used these experiences to carve out a niche in Silicon Valley’s competitive job market.

Reflecting on her travels, Aytakin shared, “The person who travels more knows more.” Her travels also enabled her to run Femigrants smoothly, as her empathy and adaptability enhanced. By leveraging her multicultural background, she runs a platform that connects and empowers immigrant women, turning her diverse experiences into strengths that benefit many.

3- Build a Robust Professional Network

Networking is a critical component of career success, with studies showing that up to 85% of jobs are filled through networking. This is especially true for immigrant women, who often lack an established support system in their new country. Building a strong professional network can open doors to new opportunities, provide mentorship, and foster a sense of community.

Aytakin’s work with Femigrants highlights the transformative power of networking. Through various events, workshops, and online platforms, Femigrants connects immigrant women with professionals and leaders who can offer guidance and support. These connections help women find jobs and empower them to advance their careers and integrate into their new communities.

4- Seek Out Mentorship and Guidance

Mentorship is crucial in navigating career setbacks and transitions, especially for immigrant women. A study found that individuals with mentors are five times more likely to advance in their careers than those without. “Look for mentors who have navigated similar challenges or have experience in your desired field,” Aytakin advises.

Aytakin’s own career was profoundly impacted by mentorship. A transformative moment came when a hiring manager encouraged her to pursue her passion for social media marketing, steering her away from settling for a low-level job. This pivotal guidance inspired her to create similar opportunities for others through Femigrants. At Femigrants’ first Tea & Talk meetup in London, immigrant women connected with seasoned mentors who shared invaluable insights and career advice. 

5- Be Open to New Opportunities and Flexible Career Paths

Flexibility is key when rebuilding your career after a setback. This might mean exploring new industries, accepting temporary or freelance work, or even starting your own business. Aytakin’s journey vividly illustrates the power of flexibility. Before her transition to working with Fortune 500 companies like Instagram and NVIDIA, she took on various roles far outside her previous experience. 

Despite her successful background in social media marketing, she faced the challenge of starting from scratch in the U.S. She initially sought out low-paying jobs, such as server and retail assistant roles, desperately trying to secure them to cover her immediate expenses in San Francisco. Although she was repeatedly rejected, these difficult experiences taught her invaluable lessons about perseverance and adaptability. 

These experiences were challenging but taught her invaluable lessons about perseverance and adaptability. This eventually paved the way for her to found Femigrants.

Overall, career setbacks are about dealing with adversities and learning from them as part of the career progress. For immigrant women, these challenges often involve unique complexities, but they also offer the chance to tap into diverse experiences and strengths. 

Aytakin’s story is a powerful testament to how perseverance, strategic support, and a community like Femigrants can empower women to thrive despite initial hurdles. Through Femigrants, Aytakin provides a blueprint for turning adversity into success, offering a vital network and resources that help immigrant women navigate and excel in their professional journeys. Her leadership inspires a broader vision of what’s possible when we leverage our unique backgrounds and seek collective empowerment