Reflection on WISE Career Panel in NYC by Nada Ali
Choosing a career path can be one of the most difficult decisions one has to make. Especially when in high school or first year of college, it is a challenge trying to find which major is right for you and which field you would like to work in. The Muslim community has often restricted itself to choosing careers in either medicine or engineering, meanwhile there is a plethora of options and opportunities for young Muslims. Since the our community lacks an effective way of networking and career planning for those who are still deciding, it was necessary to provide a space that will enable successful Muslims to interact with young professionals.
On December 26, 2015 WISE and Muslim Center of NY hosted career panel event, which aimed to inspire young Muslim men and women to pursue careers based on their interests and what they enjoy doing. Four panelists who were in different professional fields, spoke about their experiences and the opportunities they had to get to where they are. They also elaborated on the struggles they had to face as Muslims, and how they were able to overcome obstacles in order to do what they love.
The first panelist, Jasmine Ibrahim, spoke about her journey to becoming an architect. It was very refreshing to see a Muslim woman working in the architecture field since it is a male dominant career path. Later on, Jasmine joined an organization called AAAEA, the Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects. This opportunity allowed Jasmine to network with other successful Muslims and Arabs in her field, and she is now working as an office engineer for a Wall Street company named HAKS.
The next panelist was Nitasha Siddiqui, who is currently a student at Princeton University. She spoke to young Muslims about the importance of mental health and how she is dedicating her psychology degree to working with people who have mental disorders in order to break the stigma in the Muslim community. Nitasha is also involved in WISE because she shares a passion for empowering women and encouraging them to seek out their full potential.
Mushfiqur Chowdry, who spoke after Nitasha, was able to expand on his path to Harvard University, which he is currently enrolled in, studying religion, ethics and politics as a Master’s degree candidate. Mushfiqur informed the audience about a scholarship opportunity called POSSE, which he was granted in high school. This scholarship allowed him to attend the University of Southern California as an undergraduate student. Moreover, Mr. Chowdry spoke about the Humanity in Action fellowship he received and how to apply for one for those who were interested in human rights and international relations.
Last but not least, Zain Ali, who is currently studying to be a Doctor of Osteopathic medicine, explained to the audience how medicine and giving back to the Muslim community go hand in hand. Zain attended Stony Brook University as an undergraduate and is now in NYCOM, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He was able to relate the Islamic values to medicine and how Muslims should make their intentions for the sake of Allah when pursuing any career. Mr. Ali expanded on an organization he joined, named MHPS (Muslim Health Professional Students), that brings together Muslim students in medical, dental, podiatric and optometry schools and allows them to give back to the community. Some students in the audience were inspired and wanted to join the organization by the end of his talk.
After the panelists spoke, the room was split into smaller groups for the breakout sessions. These smaller groups allowed audience members to interact and network with the panelists as well as other students who are pursuing the similar career choices. Other students were exploring different career options to see if they might like to work in those fields in the future. During these sessions, everyone was encouraged to exchange contact information and share opportunities that others might benefit from.
Overall, the career panel event was a success and it was able to bring together young brilliant minds as well as inspire so many others who are struggling to find their perfect career path.