Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Year Up Greater Philadelphia Graduate Shahrzad Mohammed Shares Her Journey

When Shahrzad Mohammed and her mother suddenly found themselves moving from Brooklyn to Philadelphia, Shahrzad’s life came to a screeching halt.

For as long as she could remember, she had lived in New York with her mother, building a life filled with friends and interests. Then one day, things changed and Shahrzad wasn’t sure what to do next. Moving to Philadelphia was an entirely new world for her; one moment she was constantly go, go, go and the next she was in a completely different environment feeling lost.

During this trying time, a friend from New York came to visit. Unfortunately, the visit was anything but uplifting. Shahrzad and her friend were in a terrible car accident, which led to weeks of physical therapy.

As Shahrzad prepared for physical therapy one day, she stopped and looked around at her life. She asked herself, “what am I really doing?” To her dismay, she realized the most exciting thing in her life was going to physical therapy. That was when she realized she needed a change.

After searching the internet, Shahrzad came across a Year Up advertisement and decided to apply. She felt that Year Up’s offer of job skills training, Peirce College courses, and an internship would be an opportunity to take her life in the direction she wanted.

After attending an information session right here on Peirce's campus, she started prepping for her next steps, which would involve an interview. After scheduling and practicing, she felt ready to go, but, to Shahrzad’s dismay, her interviewer got sick on the day of the interview. She didn’t let this hiccup slow her down though; she still handed in her paperwork, which included a personal essay where she was able to demonstrate her true passion, writing. After sharing this piece with Year Up, they asked her to interview on the spot due to her skill set. Following the interview and a few whirlwind days of paperwork, Shahrzad was accepted into Class 9 of Year Up Greater Philadelphia in August 2017.

As eager as Shahrzad was to get started, there was one personal struggle standing in her way. She suffers from social anxiety, so getting herself to join and take part in an organization filled with complete strangers in a totally new place was a lot. But Shahrzad knew she needed this program, so she pushed herself to attend the first day and take a chance on this new program.

At first, Shahrzad felt pessimistic and unsure of the room filled with fellow classmates and leaders. She had only felt negativity for so long, she wasn’t sure she could find the positive in anything anymore. Then, Shahrzad learned that many people in the room felt similar to how she did and experienced similar life challenges.

“Year Up created such a community and amazing space where even the most cynical people could eventually turn around and start moving forward,” explained Shahrzad. “We all understood there will always be scars, but now we saw how they could become manageable.”

Shahrzad chose to take part in the Information Technology track (Year Up students can choose between IT and Business). “I was hesitant at first and it was a little weird when classes started because I was originally interested in anthropology in New York,” she said. “But, computers have always been an interest of mine so I decided to go this route.””

After taking classes at Peirce for a semester, Shahrzad was placed in an internship with Wells Fargo. However, she found out quickly that IT wasn’t the right career path for her.

“The first thing I realized when I started with Wells Fargo was how much I didn’t actually like IT,” she said. “But, I decided to take the opportunity to talk to people and network to discover what I really did like.”

Shahrzad started moving around the company learning about different departments and discovered her niche with communications. Shahrzad was able to focus on her passion for writing and found herself contributing to company website content, newsletters, newspapers and more.

She credits the things she learned in the first part of the Year Up program with helping her break out of her shell and become “comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Without these skills, she may have never had the drive to seek out other opportunities and find something she truly loved.

As Shahrzad’s internship concluded, she was encouraged to begin applying for full-time positions within Wells Fargo. As she got ready to start the process, to her surprise, she didn’t have to apply to a single one! A manager at the company approached her and offered her a position working for him in San Francisco at Wells Fargo headquarters. She knew this was the journey and fresh start she was looking for. So, as of August 1, 2018, Shahrzad relocated to California to begin her next adventure as an Innovation Strategy Associate.

In just a year, Shahrzad went from feeling lost in her Philadelphia apartment to landing a career in San Francisco with the help of Year Up Greater Philadelphia and Peirce College. Congratulations, Shahrzad! Best of luck on this journey!

Are you a young adult who could benefit from the Year Up program? Do you know someone who might be interested? Visit peirce.edu/YearUp to learn more!