Please give a brief background on yourself and your career.
I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and was raised between Japan, Massachusetts, and Arizona. I was always interested in the globalization of things, and knew that I wanted to attend Wellesley and be part of a diverse community. I also love New England, in general.
I am currently a Policy Specialist at the Legal Ads Policy team at Twitter in San Francisco. I lead our Asia Pacific initiatives for advertising policies, and also work with financial services that advertise on our platform. Additionally, I work with different revenue products to be the policy voice. My job is to advocate user safety and maintain trust in Twitter Ads. It was important for me to work for a company with a mission, and globally, Twitter stands for giving people the freedom to express themselves.
How has your career changed since you originally envisioned it at Wellesley? What other careers did you consider as a student?
I studied Political Science and South Asian studies at Wellesley College, and at one point I wanted to be a diplomat. I took advantage of the liberal arts degree and tried different courses in Economics, International Relations, and Sociology, to name a few! I was a Fulbright Fellow after graduation, spent a year in Bangladesh teaching English and researching technology’s contribution to an emerging market economy. Then, I applied to graduate school for policy and in the time from application to acceptance, I decided that I wanted to learn more about tech policy and decided to attend Cornell University for my MPA degree.
I approached Cornell like I approached Wellesley–I took advantage of the course offerings and concentrated on Financial and Economic Policy while taking classes in information systems and entrepreneurship. My two years at Cornell were also influenced by being a graduate intern at Twitter in their Trust & Safety department over the summer in 2013, where I became very interested in the cross section between public policy and protecting people in the complex world of internet.
Now, I am able to use my studies at Wellesley in international relations and political science in the private sector to develop and help enforce ads policies in Twitter’s global offices.
How has Wellesley contributed to your career?
I had the opportunity to participate in the Wintersession program in Morocco as a sophomore, where I was fascinated by the region’s history and political history. While at Wellesley, I studied abroad in Egypt and worked a summer in Delhi, India, through the MIT- India exchange program. Wellesley gave me the opportunity to travel and also learn from some of the best professors in the field. I learned how to work with different people and styles of communication. I also learned that you can still be creative when dealing with grey area issues, as is often the case with policy work in the private sector.
What is a typical work day or work week like for you?
My work consists of projects, many of which I am able to define with my team, depending on our needs and the goals of the company. My work week includes meeting with stakeholders from around the department, including product managers and engineers in the advertising space who are trying to build new products. I have weekly meetings with stakeholders in Tokyo and Singapore to discuss policy, new updates, and challenges that need our attention. The work is a team effort, and I am constantly learning from my team to build skills in negotiation, communication, and time management.
What piece of advice would you offer students looking to get into your area of interest and expertise?
Learn as much as possible and seek out mentors. I did not think that I would be working in San Francisco in a social networking service when I was at Wellesley. By participating in student leadership and actively looking for internships, I was able to realize what I liked and didn’t like. I also got to meet people and hear their stories on how they got where they were. I would also advise students to keep up with industry news and the changes that are taking place, especially if they are interested in tech. Knowledge of the industry always helps you to network with people in an engaging way.
What do you wish you had known as a student?
I wish I knew that there are many options out there in the professional world, and that it is okay to not know exactly where you may be months before graduation. In my last spring semester, I was excited about going to Bangladesh and living abroad for a year on the Fulbright, but I was already thinking about what’s next. Being in an academically rigorous undergraduate program like Wellesley makes us very ambitious but sometimes, we just need to take a step back!
I also wish I’d known that learning does not stop. Once you enter the ‘professional world,’ it is not the end; you aren’t ‘set’ forever. I am still learning and developing as a professional, and it’s actually a fun process!
If you could come back and take one class at Wellesley what would it be?
I would have taken a sailing class, even if it meant waking up at 5 am. I loved sleep at Wellesley, and I think I had the best naps ever in Beebe between classes. I went back to Wellesley this past summer for my five year reunion, and took a boat out in Lake Waban for the first time with friends. We all wondered how we managed to go through four years without ever sailing in the lake! Academically, I wish I’d taken a basic programming course in the CS department in order to further develop my problem solving skills. Basic programming today can help in most career fields.