We are born to make a difference

It’s worth learning from your peer

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Interview with Karim Farishta
1. Which university are you currently studying in and what is your major?
The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs; Major: International Affairs; Concentration: International Development

2. How do you keep yourself updated on opportunities that exists around you but were not spoon fed to you?

I acutely understand that social media can be used for both social good and social evil. This being said, I keep myself updated on opportunities by liking various Facebook pages and following several Twitter handles that align with my interests. This allows me the opportunity to learn about up and coming projects and quickly see if there are any job or internship postings. I am very connected with many email list serves and glance over organizational emails to find the most up-to-date and pertinent information. I always tell my counselors, academic advisors and previous employers to keep me in the loop for new projects. Once you show that you are willing and able to go the extra mile, professionals remember you and lend their resources to you. The key here is to appreciate them for their support and keep them updated on your progress.

I also love listening to the news. I pay particular attention to topics that are interesting to me and focus in on them. I enjoy researching like-minded organizations and people who share similar passions as I do. I tend to apply to a lot of competitive programs. I understand that I will not receive all the opportunities that I apply for but they provide me with learning experiences to enhance my writing and oral skills. These competitive programs are often national and international in scope, so even by applying, large organizations learn my name and about the work that I am doing

3. What are the three most important things that you suggest for all Ismaili youth to do no matter what their future goals are?

  • The cost of inaction is catastrophic. Pursue both depth and breadth in any endeavor that you start, but do not get lost in the breadth of knowledge and choose to give up. This is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make. Inaction can result from falsely construed approaches to challenging circumstances. To remedy this, you must go in-depth for any project you begin whether it may be an internship or research opportunity. This will come with self-direction and self-confidence.
  • Age seldom correlates with what you can achieve. It is our young, innovative, and powerful minds that think the unthinkable and make the unseen a reality. Age is simply a measure of life. This being said, the sooner you start, the quicker you will begin to see the fruits of your labor. The world needs people to come alive and rise to action. Don’t let your passion dwindle in the face of preliminary challenges because these early struggles will produce a stronger you. The best way to make the future better is to create it. So come alive, and take action.
  • Allow passion and purpose to work in sync. You will find many role models in your life. These individuals will have found what they love to do and understood why they do it. This should be your goal too. Just because someone else enjoys an occupation does not mean that you will feel the same way. Find what makes you feel good and expands your personal impact and pursue that. Inevitably, this will make you happy.

 4. How do you approach people that you don’t know, but would be a great resource in your journey?

I can’t begin to count the number of times my dad has said, “you never know when he or she will come in handy.” The only way to move forward is to always keep good relations with people. Do not burn bridges because these structures can serve you in the future. This is easier said than done. I can assure you that taking the first steps to make a contact is a lifelong skill. The sooner you begin to network with others, the more you learn about what they are doing and begin see how they can help you with your journey. So what do you do? If you meet someone at an event or conference, email and appreciate them. Add colleagues on LinkedIn or use the Education Board as a resource to make professional connections.

5. Do you have a mentor and how valuable is it to have a mentor?

Yes, of course! The mentors in my life have provided the most invaluable advice. Mentors are like guiding lights—they are those who can say, “been there, done that.” Unlike some who will only superficially share their experiences, mentors will share both their strengths and weaknesses. Since their sole goal is to help you succeed, they will even share information that they did not know when they went through a particular process. So, once you find a mentor, trust them, learn from their experiences and apply their knowledge. The more frank you are with your mentor, the more specificity they can provide.

6. What is your advice for those who have dreams, but are not privileged enough to have the necessary resources/means to fulfill their dreams?

Privilege comes to those who pursue. Sometimes it may appear that others have unlimited monetary resources at their disposal, but do not be overwhelmed if you cannot access these resources as quickly as others. You must plan how to best leverage the resources you already have and thereby expand them over time. Firstly, do not give up. Rather, seek support. Ask your mentor for advise. Apply for scholarships and plan your future. Haphazard attempts to secure funds will in most cases not work in your favor. You will have to strategize; preparing for your future is a gradual, incremental process.

7. Which are some of the means of social media that teenagers could use to their advantage?

As I said before, I think Facebook and Twitter can really be wonderful resources for information. Sometimes news is lost in long newsfeed, but you must be able to distinguish between good and bad knowledge. Some other helpful websites include: BuildMyIdea.com, CollegeBoard.com, LinkedIn, TED.com, and the IPN LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

8. List some of the people that you admire and please tell us why?

  • Faridoun Hemani is a down-to-earth international journalist who specializes in bringing human stories before partisan politics. He has a gift for storytelling that I wish to transcend to my generation.
  • Brown is the epitome of a fantastic teacher. She is an inspiration to other educators and also a firm believer in the potential of youth.
  • Professor Beck has been my mentor since senior year. She is a lawyer but also a full-time activist for justice. She represents her clients wholeheartedly and does not sacrifice her conviction to human rights.
  • My grandfather and all refugees are sources of inspiration to me. I am amazed by their continuous pursuit for better opportunities and relentless strength. Their stories motivate me to never stop doing what I love to do.

9. According to you, how Ismaili teenagers may go about planning for a bright and meaningful future?

The key is really to start early. The “future” isn’t as far as you think it is. Bluntly stated, there are limited attempts you have to take standardized SAT and ACT tests. There is no substitute to learning strategies and taking practice tests. If you want to receive college credit from AP and SAT Subject Tests, then that is added study time. If your scores begin to stagnate, you should consult your college counselor for advice.

Building a strong résumé requires a head start on figuring out what you like to do. Once you find your passion, it is time to get involved and apply for leadership roles.

Paying for college is a burdensome process on your parents’ checkbooks and your potential student debts can take a long time to repay. Find both financial and merit scholarships that match your interests, goals, majors, and careers. Go to collegeboard.com, fastweb.com, collegeprowler.com, and cappex.com to find the latest scholarship deadlines. Many of these opportunities are not limited to upperclassmen so younger students can also apply.

10. What was your parent’s role in your success so far?

They have been my strongest supporters—the best cheerleaders from the sidelines and the best advisers. Their foresight and experience allow them to provide meaningful insight into the steps I take. I have realized that others will always try to influence me and shape my opinion to fit their interests. I know my parents will always guide me in a direction that aligns with my ambitions. All parents have a vested interest in their child’s education and future. They do not want their children to be misled or fooled. My parents’ convictions, morality, and ethics have been beacons for me to make the best possible decisions.

Don’t take what they say lightly. In fact, appreciate them for their input.

Thank you for reading!!!


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