Meet Warisha Saddiqui! Last summer, she interned for Long Island City Partnership, which came about because she was a student in our PENCIL Internship Program as part of the Ladders for Leaders Program in partnership with the NYC Department of Youth & Community. Thank you for sharing, Warisha!
Name: Warisha Saddiqui
Year: Tufts University
School: College freshman
When Warisha started her internship at Long Island City Partnership, she brought with her a deep-rooted interest in politics and a passion for research. She spent the summer helping to resolve issues of public safety, sanitation and community beautification by liaising with municipal institutions. She also tracked, organized and reported on metrics concerning pedestrian count, street furniture and street conditions. But Warisha’s ambition led her to a project beyond what was expected of her.
With so many hours of her internship spent outdoors, she began to notice stretches of the neighborhood that lacked trees. Even where trees were planted, she found many needed attention and care. Though this might seem like an insignificant detail to many, Warisha realized the potential consequences. “[This] could have large impacts on foot traffic, which in turn affected local businesses,” she explains.
Wanting to find a way to address the issue, Warisha brought it to her supervisor’s attention, who decided it was worthy of a team project. Working with the other interns, Warisha documented the condition of each tree in the district. By the end of the summer, they compiled their findings, which they then presented to the entire office. “[It] was nerve wracking for us,” she recalls, “but we left that day feeling a sense of accomplishment and proud of our summer…all of the staff was so supportive.”
Even though she ended her internship on this high note, Warisha still faced challenges throughout the summer. But, she says, she learned an important lesson from these difficult moments. “An important thing to remember is to take up space and know your worth. If you feel like there is more you can do or what you have is too much for you, speak up about it. I say this in retrospect, wishing I was more vocal with my supervisor on how my experience was going.” She also hopes to remind future students that the entire experience is about learning. “You’ll make mistakes and struggle…but that’s okay. No matter what, don’t be afraid to ask questions… because that’s how we learn and grow,” she says.
This summer, Warisha returned to the PENCIL Internship Program and is currently working at Women Creating Change, where she hopes to apply all she learned from her time at Long Island City Partnership. In the fall, she will begin her freshman year at Tufts University to study international relations with the hope of pursuing a career implementing US foreign policy efforts abroad. Thanks to the experiences she obtained through PENCIL, she says, “I’m walking into college and my next job with a level of professionalism that will continue to elevate me through life.”