How to get out of Minimum Wage jobs

Life should be all about following your passion. You should always strive to do something you enjoy, and at the same time make money out of it. If you don’t have a specific passion you want to go after, educate yourself in something that is sure to earn you good money. It may take time, but don’t let that daunt you. It pays off at the end. In the mean time, the reality is you also have bills to pay. Therefore, you find yourself struggling to get by on a minimum wage job, continuously dissatisfied and unhappy. If you have been stuck in the same minimum wage job for a while and you feel like there is no escape, this article is for you. Mohammed N. Mohammed is a Solution Architect and Co-founder at Soft Interactive Systems. Below is his list of advises on how to break free at a fairly short period of time.

1. Trainings: There are lots of institutes that provide short term trainings in various fields. Information makes all the difference. You should get all the information you need from these institutes, which give result oriented training, mostly lasting one to three months. The question is, what kind of training is right for you? You can start from the type of professional job you would like to get into. Everyone has different backgrounds and interests, so you can start your search depending on your own inclination. There are also a lot of internet resources like bureau of labor statistics that let you know which specific field is really in demand and pays more money. Below is a list of fields that you can look into.

IT Related
o SharePoint Development Training
o SharePoint Administrator Training
o Database Administrator
o Net programmer
o Business Analyst or Technical Writer
o Tester

Clerical and Technical (only require short term training but pay decent money)
o Legal Support workers
o Paralegals
o Postal service mail carriers
o Electricians
o Repairmen ( AC technicians, elevator technicians, Refrigerator technicians)
o Law Enforcement sub-branches
911 Dispatchers
Probation Officers
Detention Officers

2. Online resources:

o Online Trainings: Online trainings with subscriptions should be amazingly helpful. Since I am an IT professional, the resources I list could be mostly IT related; only because that is a subject I know well. Nevertheless, there are a lot of resources for each and every profession as well. Below is a list of my favorite websites that provide online training videos in IT that you can take at your own pace and finish in a short period of time. The first three are free; the other four require a monthly subscription fee.

o Online job boards: These are online job boards that let you upload your resume so that employers can find you easily. Make sure you modify and refine your resume every day so that the search engine knows that you are actively looking for a job. In addition to job boards, check out county websites. Departments of Human Resources in the counties you live in provide a lot of government jobs, and they do not use these job sites; they use their own site.

Additionally, use and to learn about a range of different subjects. Another useful site is the social media twitter; you can follow industry experts to see what they are up to and update yourself on new happenings at your favorite company.

3. Online Presence: I could combine this with online resources, but I just wanted to emphasize that you need to build your profile very neatly and avoid unnecessary/unprofessional representation of yourself.

4. Certification Exam: Although not required, it is beneficial to have certification on any of the professions you would like to apply to. Once you have finished getting the required knowledge on your chosen profession, explore the web to get practice exams. The link I personally like is ; it provides information about practice exams on most IT subjects. A lot of practice exams cost you about $$ – $$$ but if you are lucky you can get them from E-Bay or Amazon for about $5 – $10.


5. Communication Skill: You should be proactive. You do not have to be a fluent speaker to have a good communication skill; just be initiative, responsible, and set expectations. Always remember that satisfaction entirely depends on expectation.

6. Network: This is very crucial to have. Build you profile on and start adding recruiters, then continue adding your friends with the same profession to expand your network.

7. Target Date: You need to have a target date. The best time to start is today! Start at the beginning of this year and give six months of intensive effort. Start looking for a job during summer. If you tirelessly show effort everyday and explore your options, I can guarantee you can be successful.

Ye Arada Quanqua

Like everything else, language changes with time. I realized this while watching some Amharic videos online; I found myself scratching my head to understand the meaning of some of the new urban words. Here are four  I learned thanks to Youtube:

Aynefam- Something is not satisfactory

Enimeresh-Let’s go

Ligebalign Neber/Asgebalet – He was about to kick me/ Kick him

Mekeset -Show up

It is interesting to see how these words are created and make it into the mainstream population, and used as a form of communication daily. As for me, I have decided to eliminate “Speak Amharic Fluently” from my resume for now, until I update myself on contemporary Amharic some more. Therefore, I hope you will help me out by sharing some of the new words you know below in the comment box.

How to Drive in Ethiopia with an American License

Hi Ami, How are you? I was wondering if you knew how to drive with international license in Ethiopia? A lot of people ask me, but I have no idea. Do you know where you have to go and the process? Thanks for your help!

The response to my message came a day later.

Honestly my answer is no, I have no clue how to do it. But I assume you would have to get a lot of 100 birr bills if a traffic police stops you and sees you don’t have an Ethiopian license or just start speaking English with a New York accent and he’ll let you go.

So my dear friends, that is the way to go about it if you decide to drive in Ethiopia on your next visit. Ok don’t get too excited, my friend Ami is only kidding. But I used to get that question a lot when I was working for the Ethiopian Consulate in Los Angeles, and I gave the happy tourists with their eager faces a shrug, in my head thinking along the same lines as Ami, just too abashed to voice it.

If you want to drive in Ethiopia, the first thing you have to do is go to the Embassy of the United States in Addis Ababa, and get your American license authenticated. Once you finish there, take the paperwork they give you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located right in front of Hilton Hotel, which will perform translation services for you. The final stage is going to be The Ministry of Road and Transportation (commonly known as Menged Transport), located behind Addis Ababa Stadium, which will give you your gateway to adventure, aka your Ethiopian license! These services charge you some fee. When you read that the locations are lacking street numbers and zip codes, don’t panic. Things don’t work like that in Ethiopia. Almost everyone knows where everything is, or knows someone who does. So don’t be afraid to ask your local taxi drivers or hotel staff. Google is not going to tell you the best restaurants in town. Your resources for information are going to be the people. Enjoy yourself and happy adventures!


Wube Bereha: The Vegas Strip of Addis in the Past

For a young woman living in one of the most modern cities in the world, I do not go out clubbing much. That was what was on my mind as I made my way to one of the supposedly most hip nightclubs in Hollywood last Saturday, Boulevard3. When my friends and I got there, a couple of the club’s staff were standing outside. They asked us if we had reservations; apparently you have to go online and be on their guest list to be able to go in. After we shook our heads no, the guy we were speaking to gave us a ‘let me think for a second’ look, and then said he would let us in this time, but told us to go online and register next time. He made it sound like he was doing us a huge favor by letting us in without the necessary step of registering.

The inside of the club is nice; spacious with tables against the walls. There is a big stage right by the entrance, where a very scantily dressed lady was performing with movements with what is considered modern dance these days. As the latest hip hop songs played that refer to different anatomical parts of women, I took a moment to take in my surroundings – the intoxicated women, the lone men walking around and looking for potential dance partners, groups taking pictures, and the general ambiance.

After my friends and I left the club well after midnight, we were walking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and discussing our night. That is how the conversation turned to night life in Addis back in the days. I realized that even though the form of doing things changes, young people still engage in similar activities throughout generations. I was imagining our parents, and wondering how being young was like for them.

In the 60s, Wube Bereha used to be the center of night life in Addis. A neighborhood in the heart of Piassa, it was alive with booze, music and prostitutes in ample amounts almost every night. In his book Ethiopia: A view from within, Michael B. Lentakis talks about Wube Bereha: “Already at the age of 13 I had started having sexual relation in the Serategna Sefer, …Wube Bereha and Serategna Sefer were at that time famous for having the most beautiful women engaged in this trade, and although they have never read the Kama Sutra, they could naturally perform all the different acts of love with the utmost dexterity.” In a September 23, 2013 article entitled The memories of Wube Bereha published on The Reporter, Tibebeselassie Tigabu also stated: “This was the place that broke free. Freedom was experienced in the fullest form, the mainstream shattered and taboos broken, bans lifted with anything possible from intoxication and music. Renowned musicians made their memories here and it inspired a generation of Ethiopian writers and poets.” The same article goes on to state that the neighborhood was to be demolished to make way for a train project, but I was not able to find any update on whether that was carried through or not.

A lot of people would argue today that Wube Bereha was a place where someone from a good family should not go, where STDs manifested and generally an appalling place to be avoided at all costs. But whether Wube Bereha existed or not, people would have engaged in the same activities regardless, behind closed doors and more covertly. When I say this, I am not encouraging anyone to engage freely in drinking and womanizing, we all know the dangers of HIV and other ramifications that come with that. All I am saying is I am not quick to condemn Wube Bereha either, I look at it as a place where the generation before us had memorable times without as much risk as being young today entails. It is a huge part of our history.

I was not able to find a lot of published material on the history or current status of Wube Bereha, or pictures for that matter. If you have any information I could use, you can e-mail me at and I will be happy to add them to this article. In the mean time, I will leave you with a link to a scene from the movie Tizita, one of my favorite Amharic movies of all time. Around the 40 something second, the actors break out into a sort of waltz, and in my mind’s eye, that is exactly how I imagine the Boulevard3 version of a club in Wube Bereha then. Cheers!

Award -Winning Movie “Difret” being screened in Los Angeles

Based on countless real stories of young girls in Ethiopia, the movie ”Difret” revolves around a young girl who is abducted by a group of men so that she can be a wife for someone much older than her. “Difret” tries to educate about the harmful culture of abduction in Ethiopia. Acclaimed by many major news media like CNN and The Hollywood Reporter, the movie has Angelina Jolie as the executive producer.
Educated at the USC School of film right here in Los Angeles, the Ethiopian Director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari won four different awards for the movie. It is currently being shown at the Laemmle Theater Music Hall 3 until Thursday December 18, 2014. The theatre is located at 9036 Wilshire blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. So come out and see this great movie and inspiring story, and show your support for Zeresenay!



I came across this great picture by Street View Photography Ethiopia as I was browsing through their Facebook page, and I was hit with nostalgia. Listros are shoeshine boys, usually very young. They use the trade to support their families and pay for schooling and different things. In a developing country like Ethiopia, the job is a source of revenue for the whole family.

Every morning, people can be seen getting dust and mud off of their shoes in the streets of Addis before starting their work. I used to have a regular Listro named Tamagn too, right in front of my office building. I would go to him as soon as I got off my taxi, and we would both smile upon seeing each other, me with relief about my soon to be clean shoes, he with what I assume was  pleasure at a few extra Birr in his pockets.

Listros on a street in Addis.©Mulugeta Ayene.
Listros on a street in Addis.©Mulugeta Ayene.


An Ethio-American Breakfast

For those of us who live in the western part of the world, the winter season is upon us again. While I personally don’t shudder at the thought of snow and ice and almost freezing to death, that is only because I live in California. I have a lot of friends all over the East Coast who lament about the cold constantly to me.

Since the winter started, I see a lot of commercials everywhere that encourage you to buy and curl up with this hot drink or that, with many stores supposedly on sale for coats and boots. That is how I remembered an Ethiopian way of fighting this cold. It is a cheaper alternative to hot chocolates and the different flavored lattes you spend your 5 dollars on every day, aka Genfo!

Genfo is a traditional Ethiopian porridge that is served usually in the mornings. It is typically made with flour prepared from barely. While the flour is readily available in Ethiopia, this may not be always the case in the US. That is how my cousin decided to try making it with pancake flour when she could not resist the incredible urge she felt for Genfo not too long ago. The result was amazing, the taste was almost the same and very delicious. Here is how to make a yummy and satisfying Genfo that is sure to warm up the whole family, as the cliché goes!

First, fill up a medium sized pan with water. When the water comes to a boil, add three ladles of the pancake flour and a little salt. Stir and mix until it makes a thick paste. Once the mixture is evenly mixed and thick, put in a bowl and make a hole in the middle. Typically, people put kibe (Ethiopian butter) mixed with berebere, as a dipping sauce in the middle. But you can opt to have a healthier sauce like olive oil instead of the butter mixed with a little hot sauce. Now all you have to do is tear pieces of the Genfo, dip in your sauce, and enjoy!

Here is a link for a YouTube video with the more traditional recipe.