Neha Shabeer from the YIP Junior Board talks with Jordan, Framingham native and YIP Alumni, about his experiences and how YIP has helped shape his professional life.
You’re 20 and a full time college student at George Washington University and you’re working full time as a Public Policy Extern at Facebook. All these amazing things. What have you learned at Facebook and what is your biggest takeaway?
I definitely believe in Facebook’s social motto of bringing the world closer together. The biggest takeaway for me has been how to network, be able to speak eloquently under pressure, and listen closely to others. In every job I have had, I’ve been in meetings with people who are way smarter and way older and way more experienced than I am, so being able to respond to something they say with something that in my heart I believe to be valuable, that can be really difficult.
How did your YIP experience impact you in your career?
One of the things that I think about often is being able to get in a room with 20 people you don’t know. And just being able to talk to them and to understand their perspectives, respect them, and eventually come to some unified decision. Even though you all have different priorities and different perspectives and different values and whatnot. That’s something I do every day. That’s something that’s hard, especially because, and this is something I explored more when I was interning for YIP in High School, when this happens, the room is silent. People do not want to speak to each other. Being able to navigate these social situations and get the job done. To speak your truth and figure out how to deal with the situation at hand. This is something I still do every single day.
How did you know that civic service was something that you wanted to do with your life?
I have a variety of 50 year plans, 10 year plans, and none of them really match up. But they’ll all get me somewhere. I think that there’s so many people who are struggling. There are so many issues out there. And they’re not going to get settled unless every single person finds something that they can try to fix. I think that that’s something that’s changing in our culture-we need to have everyone doing something. And maybe that has happened before, or maybe it’s something that’s different now, but it currently feels different. I wanted to be a part of it – I want to feel like I actually contributed something.
What are some of your philanthropic passions outside of your work and school life?
I think what I love is getting down to the one on one level and just talking to people about their lives and having conversations. My passion is not always the service part – it’s what happens after. Like helping them through the process of investing in the kids in those communities and getting to know those kids one by one. The sustainable growth of organizations that I can potentially help.
Do you have a particular memory that really sticks out to you from your experiences?
I was working with a nonprofit in Los Angeles* through a trip with GW that was, in the past, a skate shop, but became an afterschool program as a safe place for students who were mostly in gangs and whose parents were incarcerated. This is the place where they went to make sure they were succeeding in school-made sure that the homework was done. They were working on academics before they could skate. So it was something that was very different. And I realized that a lot of communities just need more resources to build the programs that will work for them. Because you know, a skate shop is not going to work in Framingham, Massachusetts, but works in Los Angeles. That is something that is very unique to that community. So it’s a lot of supporting communities for what they have and letting people in that community decide what works best for them, rather than someone outside of the community coming in to tell them. We should be investing in these communities instead of trying to change them.
What is a real issue that you think we need to tackle in the MetroWest?
I think we need to invest in our youth and we need to prepare them for difficult situations they will face in the world. That can happen in a lot of different forums. And I think that the Foundation is doing that. There are many organizations that the Foundation and YIP have funded in the past that help youth stay on track.
Do you have any advice for a student like me?
Speak up for yourself. Prepare yourself for the tough situations you will face. Be the kindest person you can be. And just be a good person. Have fun. That’s all important. It’s so easy to overlook. Also, remember to be kind to yourself – true to yourself and do what you can do. Do your best to change the world.
*The Garage Board Shop