UT Austin #ELGLInspire Speaker: Zarin Ahmed

Posted on October 1, 2019


#ELGLInspire is coming to UT Austin on October 2, 2019!  Learn more about our event speakers in these brief profiles, and connect with them before and after the event!

Zarin Ahmed


Legislative Intern, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs


What was the very first paying job you held (that you paid taxes on)? 

My first paying job was as a copy center associate at a very busy Staples in lower Manhattan. I learned how to manage my time on multiple production deadlines and practical skills like copying, scanning, faxing, binding documents, and printing large-scale documents.

What was your: undergraduate institution? Graduate institution? What was/were your degree(s) in? 

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience and Behavior at Barnard College. I am currently a second year in the MPAff program at the LBJ School. 

What class(es) (if any) are applicable to your job today? 

Some classes I am currently taking/have taken, that I think will be useful to me are Public Management, Public Financial Management, a class about the politics of the Texas legislature, labor economics, and a class on affordable housing.

What book are you currently reading? Would you recommend it? 

I am currently reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I highly recommend it because while very scientific and nerdy, it delves deeply on what it means to be a homo sapien part of the larger homo genus, and why we are the only species in the homo family remaining.

What’s the best networking advice for job seekers you’ve heard or shared? 

The best networking advice I received is that it’s ok to talk to people without the goal of getting something from them. Genuine connections and developing relationships are easier when you are actually interested in the people you are networking with, and not looking to necessarily gain something. It also makes networking less awkward!

What’s the fastest way to NOT get a job or internship with you? (e.g. what should potential applicants avoid doing if they were to ever interview with you for a position). 

Since I don’t have any jobs to offer, I am listing some general advice as I have served in hiring capacities in past jobs: 

    • Know the job and organization/department you are applying for by doing research on the website, reading reports from the department, and hopefully having some conversations with people who have worked or are working in that department. It’s really obvious when someone doesn’t do basic research. 
    • Keep your answers concise but make sure you actually do answer the questions too! Rambling answers are hard to follow but not providing enough information is obviously not great. 
    • Follow up with a thank-you email! I wouldn’t say not sending them completely takes you out of the candidate pool, but it does give an edge to your application. 

Why should an undergraduate student consider a career working in local government?

Undergraduate students should consider a career working in local government because it is an amazing way to see your own impact and the people you are working to serve. I have met so many people who are disillusioned with government because of what they see in the media about national and state politics, which is understandable. However, amazing, innovative things are happening in local government as towns and cities figure out how to navigate major resource and infrastructure shortages, demographic changes, and issues of equity.

Do you have a work or life motto? What is it? 

I don’t have a life motto necessarily, but I have some words that guide me both personally and professionally: dignity, honesty, and equity.

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