the good, the bad, and the ugly.

the last few months have been the most exhilarating and exhausting of my life. after a year of sending out hundreds of job applications, of seeing my savings dwindle down to pennies, of desperately hoping someone would take a chance on me so i could restart my career in a new country, i finally had the attention of every company i’d ever wanted to work with.

it took a year of rejections to push me to the brink of creativity. to get me to think of the simplest yet most effective marketing experiment i’ve created to date. the campaign was designed to get the attention of many companies by targeting one. its reach spread wider than i had expected and opened doors to opportunities i had only dreamed of.

but as companies around the world were reaching out publicly, the one company that i had targeted was privately telling me that i wasn’t a fit for their needs. as emails of support were flooding my inbox, meetings with airbnb’s CMO were cancelled and my followups were met with silence. professionals i admire were calling my work impressive, but the person interviewing me was saying he couldn’t contextualize my experience because i “hadn’t worked at facebook or google or studied at stanford”.

i felt the wind knocked out of me as i heard those words. i remember gasping for breath while trying to maintain a calm exterior. i interlaced my fingers to stop them from shaking, exhaled deeply to control my cadence as i muttered words about my own company’s growth, the clients we had, the work we did, the team we built. but as the interviewer’s eyes wandered out the room in the middle of my monologue, i sensed that my attempts were hopeless. and though they were looking to hire someone to design their social media strategies, despite my 10 years of marketing and social media experience and despite the reach of my latest campaign, i was told i wouldn’t be that person. the decision had been made.

doubt crept into my mind even as other companies continued to reach out. if the one company that benefited from this experiment didn’t want to hire me, what chances would i have with anyone else? i had used all my marketing skills and passion to drive their brand into news tickers around the world – headlines were appearing in chinese, german, arabic and languages i couldn’t recognize. twitter and facebook were abuzz with positive conversations about airbnb, but that wasn’t enough. or maybe it was too much, i’ll never know.

all i do know is that in that moment, i was crushed. gutted. my confidence was shaken. i had a choice, though. i could allow myself to be consumed by doubt, to accept their rejection as a judgement on my skills. or i could push through it by focusing on the bigger picture, on the end goal, which was to get a job at a top tier company in the valley.

messages continued to pour in. from california to calcutta, rome to riyadh, people were telling me that they were inspired by what i had done. some had been facing their own career challenges and said this gave them a glimmer of hope. others asked for details of how it was done so they could try their hand in creativity. all were overwhelmingly kind.

and though the people who wrote told me i had inspired them, the inverse was also true. i drew confidence from the support of strangers. i found strength from their words and gained resilience from their stories.

i met with dozens of companies from established organizations to exciting startups. some reached out directly and others i went after myself. i was finally at the point where i wanted to be a year ago when i first moved to san francisco.

with every interview i learned more about myself and what drives me. i already knew that i wanted to be part of a stellar team, that i wanted the opportunity to grow and learn and do exciting work. and as i answered what felt like an endless stream of questions, i was able to draw in the details to those broad brush strokes.

i found everything that i wanted in upwork (formerly elance-odesk). from the start of our conversations, i was impressed by the way the company focuses on data driven decision making, on experimenting and testing obsessively to improve their product. i was inspired by how they’re helping millions of talented freelancers around the world build their careers online.

i’ve felt a rush of enthusiasm take over me with each person i’ve met there. as i sat through round after round of interviews, i found myself scribbling notes between conversations about what i could see myself learning from each team member. nothing excites me as much as that feeling, that instinct that i’m signing up for something that has so much potential and promise.

and it’s that potential and promise that outshines all of the anxiety and self doubt that i experienced. it’s that feeling that proves to me that the campaign was a success, that by forcing myself outside my comfort zone, by pushing past rejection and focusing on my own goals, i was able to unlock opportunities i would have never had. and for that i’m grateful.

i'm extremely excited to be joining upwork as part of their growth team. (photographed by fares nimri)

i’m extremely excited to be joining upwork as part of their growth team. (photographed by fares nimri)

by concentrating on one company, i got the attention of many. i'm grateful for all the opportunities i've had as a result of linking myself to airbnb. (photographed by shaz khan)

by concentrating on one company, i got the attention of many. i’m grateful for all the opportunities i’ve had as a result of linking myself to airbnb. (photographed by shaz khan)

nina4airbnb received over 455,000 visits, millions of social media impressions and resulted in over 14,000 people around the world viewing my resume. click on the infographic for details on how you can recreate similar campaigns.

nina4airbnb received over 455,000 visits, millions of social media impressions and resulted in over 14,000 people around the world viewing my resume. click on the image for details on how you can recreate similar campaigns.

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83 Responses to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. Pingback: How a Social Media Experiment Led a Creative Entrepreneur to Upwork's Team - Upwork Blog

  2. Varshanjali says:

    You are truly a fighter…. The most influential girl on the planet… Hell bent to achieve what u deserve amazing…. Airbnb undeniably has lost the most competent brain… Feeling sorry for Airbnb

    Like

  3. Pingback: The resume that got Nina Mufleh interview calls from Airbnb, LinkedIn, Uber and other big brands. | Student Resource - Learning Centre | Letsintern.com

  4. Rita Mutyaba says:

    You are an inspiration! I just got an idea on how to approach my job-hunting process from reading about your campaign. Thanks for sharing your approach.

    Like

  5. Madelyn says:

    Your dedication to implement your idea is stunning! May all forces on earth line up to help you do what you love!

    Like

    • Madelyn says:

      Btw, I’m from Amman, and I was encouraged to sign up in upwork as a freelancer, and was always hesitated to do it, thinking employers will reject me for my demographics. But once I heard you joined the team itself, I’m so excited lol I just joined upwork proudly :) Thank you for giving Jordanians a great image there! Wish you all the best! :)

      Like

  6. Malik juma says:

    Your ambition is very impressive. You have achieved, and exceeded, your goals. Such performance does not go unnoticed. Upwork is fortunate to have such an energetic, talented person on its staff. They can accomplish great things. Keep up the good work!.You deserve to be proud of your achievement. May your future efforts be equally successful and rewarding.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Chile China and Beyond: Leslie's Global Career Story (Part 4) | Small Planet Studio

  8. Bassam Hay says:

    Amazing!

    Like

  9. Ahmad Al Qaramseh says:

    Good luck with your new job.
    You deserve the best.

    Like

  10. Yaansoon says:

    Hi Nina… congratulations on working with Upwork! I have discovered them a few months ago (and have fallen in love with their concept and how they are a hub for all sorts of freelancers) and it’s such a coincidence that you are now working with them.
    I am positive they will value your experience and zeal far more than the company you have targeted in your Nina4 campaign. God works in mysterious ways and sometimes we want something so bad – but we don’t get it – because maybe we are not aware that it isn’t the right place for us….I learnt this the hard way. A couple of years ago I quit an excellent job for a “dream” company, only to realize at a closer look that they were not up to their image. Good luck and Allah yi7meeki :)

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      thank you so much for the encouragement – and i’m thrilled to read that you have already discovered and fallen in love with upwork!

      i absolutely agree that sometimes doors don’t open for a reason, and i couldn’t be happier where i’ve landed.

      Like

  11. You are unique Nina! Keep writing, Keep inspiring! Inspiration to others. TC

    Like

  12. i like the way you are says:

    See your success makes me believe that whatever you want can come to true by hard work …

    My intention now is to know more about you Nina …
    Keep in touch Omar.andi@yahoo.com

    Like

  13. hayri says:

    you are way too smart, you wouldn’t be happy at airbnb. You are lucky, you didn’t get the job.

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      though my experience with them didn’t result in a job offer, i still believe that they have a stellar team that is doing very exciting work. those who do work there are lucky to impact the world in the way that they do, and i feel equally lucky to have the same opportunity to impact lives and push for change at upwork! thanks for stopping through

      Like

  14. Kemi Laniyan says:

    Very very impressive and well done to you for sticking it out. Really very happy for you.

    Like

  15. Jasmeet says:

    Hi Nina,
    So Glad to hear about your new role. Wish you the very best in your journey. Keep writing, keep inspiring! Good luck !!

    Like

  16. Andrew says:

    I admire you Nina, we need more of you in this our world.

    Like

  17. Incredible and inspiring Nina! We came across your story while researching travel opportunities in the Middle East and just wanted to wish you all the best. #respect #hustle

    Like

  18. I’m so glad you found a company that actually values you! I bet they feel lucky that Airbnb made such a terrible move. It sounds like their hiring team was downright rude and unprofessional. Congratulations on finding the right fit!

    Like

  19. Vasare says:

    Congratulations Nina, your campaign really stands out, and you have a creative approach to marketing! Something to learn, Thanks for sharing :)
    good luck at your new job at UpWork

    Like

  20. D Koh says:

    Nina,

    You are an incredibly impressive, intelligent and passionate individual that most companies would kill to have. It’s not you, it’s AirBnB. It’s disgusting that they blatantly rejected you for not having gone to Stanford, worked at Google and Facebook. They lost an opportunity to bring someone on board that would be an amazing asset to their team and this, along with their notoriously horrendous customer service, is why AirBnB can never hope to achieve the likes of Google, Uber and Facebook.

    You’re far more talented than them and they’ll kick themselves for not hiring you when they had the chance to in the near future. Cheers to you for being so courageous and bold, you’ll go far!

    Liked by 1 person

    • eatwritewalk says:

      thank you for the encouragement, d! i truly believe they’re a very talented team and continue to enjoy being part of their community. sometimes life has bigger plans for us, and i’m very happy things worked out this way!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Leah says:

    Nina, your positive attitude is absolutely inspiring! I know you probably feel like it’s not always easy, but you make it look effortless. Way to take a challenge and make it into an opportunity for creative problem-solving. There’s always a silver lining, and God always has a plan. So many of us have been there – struggling to get a job and experience to land one. Thanks for sharing so courageously!

    Like

  22. Not sure what I can say that hasn’t already been said. Your inspiration has fueled more than you know, including me. Best of luck. Keep us posted on your journey.

    Like

  23. Suresh Bhura says:

    Reblogged this on The world through my eyes and commented:
    Inspiring blogpost…

    Like

  24. Wafa Mughrabi says:

    Hi Nina.This is amazing.I’m so proud of you now that you’ve grown up into such a talented young lady.Ever since I was your KG2 teacher at Sinbad Nursery,I knew you’d be successful in the future.You had it in you&so did Natasha.Say hi to her&to your dear mom.Wishing you all the best&a successful future.Wafa Mughrabi

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      how amazing to hear from you after all these years! i’m touched that you still remember natasha and me, and grateful that you would take the time to leave such a warm note! thank you

      Like

  25. Rhea says:

    Hi Nina! At the company i work for (a multibillion dollar global company) we host a series of career guidance sessions for our department, one of which was called “Personal Branding”. This story came across to me and we shared your story as part of the session. I then read up on your resuume and blog and am completely inspired by your innovativeness and creativity. Sometimes in a large company it’s hard to be agile and innovative – your story helps remind us that there are always ways to think creatively by looking at things and data from different angles. Best of luck at your new position at Upwork!!!

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      rhea, i’m honored that you and your colleagues would use my story in your career guidance sessions. thank you for taking the time to let me know, and thank you also for your warm wishes!

      Like

  26. Shaker Allozi says:

    Nina….Well done. your story will be taught in schools one day ;) you ought to be very proud of yourself. keep us posted with all your interesting news……. eid mubarak

    Like

  27. Congratulations! Your hard work paid off and you’ve paved the way for others to follow!

    Like

  28. Hey, Nina! Your story about looking for a work in aribnb and finally finding your dream in upwork very inspiring. Two years ago I wanted to move to SF and work as android developer there, but all companies I’ve applied to rejected me. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • eatwritewalk says:

      thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with me, anastasiia! i hope you find the success and happiness you’re looking for despite the rejections which one day might look like minor road blocks in hindsight.

      Like

  29. Pingback: A woman created a stunning resume to land her dream tech job -It got her … | VisualCVTemplate.com

  30. Nasser Majali says:

    Very happy for you Nina, closely following your new path.. Keep the inspiring news coming.. We’re proud of your resilience and wishing u the best in your new endeavor

    Like

  31. Fay Hellal says:

    Congratulations Nina!!! I’m profoundly proud of you and can absolutely assure you that Airbnb’s handling of your campaign will cost them significant profits and growth.

    I’m absolutely certain that you’ll grow and succeed beyond your own expectations with your brilliant spirit. I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to witness your journey.

    Cheers from another MEA immigrant who worked really hard to build her career in the states.
    Love n’ light sister.

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      thank you for your encouragement, fay! i certainly hope that airbnb continues to grow around the world, and i sincerely appreciate your well wishes towards me. best of luck with your career.

      Like

  32. toncafe says:

    I find myself in a very, very similar situation. However, being trapped in Northeastern Brazil, horizons are quite different! Yet, your attitude gives people like me hope, which is way beyond inspiration! Thank you! You’ve made history and still improved mine!

    Like

  33. Elizabeth Tse says:

    Nina,

    Great to read this and really look forward to you joining the team.

    Like

  34. Cookease says:

    So impressive Nina! Keep writing, keep inspiring! I totally think you should start the Middle East equivalent of airbnb and tap into all the missed opportunities you spotted! ;0)

    Like

  35. Ali says:

    Congrats you stand out of crowd and win.Btw how can we access your resume.It can surely be a source of improvement and inspiration

    Like

  36. Esi says:

    Nina, you’re amazing, inspiring, talented and the list goes on. Congratulations on your new position. Even though things turned out differently than you had hoped, I have no doubt you will make an impact and I’m excited to see what the future holds for you!

    Like

  37. Ronak says:

    Hi Nina,
    I am your biggest fan. You are my role model. I need a copy of your resume. Please send it to me at ronakthakare@gmail.com

    Like

  38. itsola says:

    Hi Nina,
    I think your application for airbnb, the work and passion you put in there was very impressive! I don’t think I would ever have the guts to do what you did. I’m happy to hear that you got a job at upwork now. I’m currently myself looking for a job as recent grad in marketing or anything related to that and gosh… it’s so frustrating, even more that I thought. Your case gives me a bit of hope at the moment that it might just need some time for me until something works out.
    You are awesome!

    Like

  39. Pingback: 1 – The good, the bad, and the ugly by nina4airbnb.com | Exploding Ads

  40. Muna S says:

    Nina,
    You set an example for everyone! I admire your persistence and resilience. Not many people can bounce back up and continue to be positive like you did. We have a lot to learn from you!
    Upwork is lucky to have you on their team. I look forward to seeing your work and success. I have no doubt we will soon be hearing many more accomplishments. You’re a star

    Like

  41. Pingback: The resume that got Nina Mufleh job interviews with Uber LinkedIn and Airbnb … | VisualCVTemplate.com

  42. Fares Sayegh says:

    there’s a lot to learn…thank you for sharing :)

    I’m torn between giving the credit to airbnb or judging them for being arrogant and blindfolded.

    Id give them credit for ‘probably’ being quite determined as they knew what they want while putting aside the emotional factor, being pressured to hire you considering the huge reach and media attention you got with your fantastic campaign…

    On the other hand, which im sure of, they lost the greatest opportunity to hire someone who couldve added great value and certainly woudve made a big difference to their future.

    The question is… How do you feel about airbnb afterall? would you still wear that tshirt ;)

    Like

    • eatwritewalk says:

      of course i’d still wear their tshirt. i’m grateful for all the opportunities that i got as a result of being able to attach myself to their brand. i still love the platform and continue to host and will continue to be an active and enthusiastic member of the community.

      Like

      • Barbara Jones says:

        Hi Nina, I’m a Syracuse U prof who would love to chat with you about your campaign. Sent tweets your way. Let’s connect next week if possible. Applauding your tenacity.

        Like

      • Barbara Jones says:

        Hi Nina… Barbara again. Please contact me this weekend. have an idea I want to bounce around with you.

        Like

      • eatwritewalk says:

        hi barbara, thanks for stopping by and getting in touch. i’d love to hear more about what you have in mind – especially as syracuse was one of my top choices for undergrad and i have a lot of respect for the programs there. not sure how to contact you so feel free to drop me a line with your contact details or email me through the form on nina4airbnb.com

        Like

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