1. How did you begin your career in broadcast journalism?
I studied communications at York University, I had an interest in getting into broadcast media and decided to do a diploma in broadcast journalism. That’s when I realized I wanted to pursue it wholeheartedly – through the diploma I had an internship that lead me to my first job in broadcasting, as an editorial assistant at the assignment desk for CTV Toronto.
2. What has been your biggest challenge/best accomplishment so far?
Biggest challenge has been my own self doubt, and learning to overcome that. People ask a lot about the barriers that I faced as somebody who wore hijab in an industry where no one has seen a woman in hijab on air.
That’s not something that people were really vocal about, or if they had feelings about it, they didn’t voice them and that’s because we live in a society where we know that discrimination based on someone’s religion is not okay. These were things that were never said flat out to my face – there may have been attitudes or perceptions, where people around me were thinking whether or not I’d succeed in this field, but they certainly didn’t voice them to me.
So the biggest challenge was to overcome my own self doubt, because I had never seen anyone who looked like me do the job I was doing, and so I sometimes wondered if I’d be able to break through that barrier.
My biggest accomplishment, an obvious one for me, is being able to be the first reporter in hijab in Canada, and the first women to anchor a newscast in Canada, in hijab.
3. What are your tips for overcoming challenges in the workplace?
You have to not be afraid to ask questions, not be afraid to be upfront about your own shortcomings, and to be open to listening and learning.
One of my biggest challenges was finding my voice and speaking up, and standing up for myself. I work in a very demanding and difficult industry, and expectations are sometimes very high and sometimes unreasonable. I had to learn to find my voice and speak up when I felt that something being asked of me was unreasonable or unrealistic.
In today’s industry there is a little bit of an attempt to get you to do as much as possible with as little resources as possible, and the people who are able to do that are going to be the ones who will succeed.
As much as I’m not afraid to shy away from hard work, it’s important that I know my own limits and not be afraid to speak with my peers when I need help, or if I’m overwhelmed. Not suffering in silence is important.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hard for me to answer, because for so long, this was the goal. This was something I was chasing, and now that I’m here I’m just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it, and do the best I can while I’m here. I’m focusing on where I am right now, and not be too hung up on the next thing. I still have a lot to learn here.
5. Any advice for young women who are just entering the work world?
Not being afraid to speak up for yourself, as women we can second guess ourselves. We can allow other people to make us feel that we’re not good enough and so we have to sometimes demand better for ourselves and demand to be heard.
I would advise women to not be afraid, and not be shy when they have an idea that they think is good; when they have an opinion on something, not to be afraid to speak up about. It’s important to never allow anyone else to make us believe that we’re not worthy enough to succeed in any field that we want to succeed in, especially in male dominated industries.
Don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done – this is the motto I received growing up from my parents. Just because someone else hasn’t done this before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.