by Katie Jafarli | April 17, 2023

This month’s CatchUp is with MomUp superstar, Abby Ismail, now a Civil Engineer at Howard Stein Hudson!

Tell us a bit about you!

I'm originally from southeastern Massachusetts and graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2019 with a double major in civil engineering and international studies. Since then, I've been working in land development. I enjoy the opportunity to work with clients to understand their needs and also be part of creating something! My first job out of school was in eastern North Carolina, but now I've been enjoying being back in the New England area since moving to Rhode Island.

How has MomUp helped you?

Connecting with MomUp was definitely a turning point in my job search process. I felt like Katie really took the time to understand my goals and interests and helped me find a role that suits them. Working with an experienced team like MomUp also allowed me to be more confident about my worth on the current market. 

What career or academic highlight are you most proud of?

During the summer after my first year of college, I traveled to Ghana with an amazing, women-led organization called Saha Global. Saha Global works in rural communities training women to use locally available products to treat water from contaminated sources, making it safe to drink. The women then sell the water at an affordable price to the community which allows the business to be self-sustaining and provide a long-term source of safe drinking water to the community. This experience was very eye-opening and inspiring to me, both in terms of the health impacts of insufficient infrastructure, and also the power of thoughtful context-driven solutions. Our team was there for 3 weeks, and we were able to be part of the entire process from introducing ourselves to the community, training the women, and seeing them take over the process and share it with their entire community on opening day of the business. It is something I will always hold close to my heart! 

What is the first job you ever had?

My first job was at a local pizza restaurant during high school. 

What are your best job search tips?

Be open-minded about making connections and networking! It can definitely get discouraging to keep sending in application after application into what feels like the void, but you never know when someone you meet may be able to disrupt that cycle for you.

Advice on balancing work and personal life?

Set boundaries around your working hours and try your best to stick to them. This can be about physically working but also thinking about work situations off hours. If you won't be able to do anything to resolve whatever you're worrying about until the morning, there's no use in letting it ruin your evening and your chance to recharge (but I understand this is easier said than done!). Also, especially with working from home, I've found it helpful to do something for myself once the workday ends. This can be going for a walk, meeting with a friend, working on hobbies, or whatever makes you feel like yourself. That way even if I'm spending time in the same space as I was for my workday, it feels like a reset for the evening.

What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?

I always enjoy having some sort of creative outlet, although it tends to rotate occasionally. For awhile now I've been learning how to sew and making my own bags and clothing. I also love music and enjoy going to concerts when I can!