Q & A with Shefije Miftari!

Posted September 19, 2019

What is your role at ILLUME?
I’m a Research Analyst. My day-to-day varies, which I love because it keeps me on my toes. Most of the time I’m wrangling various types of data: billing data, survey data, program tracking data. Other times I’m writing surveys, conducting literature reviews, or learning new software programs, like Tableau. I’m constantly sharpening my skills and learning new things.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised on the East Coast and I’m currently living in Tucson, AZ. While the Tucson heat doesn’t agree with me, the driving style does – fast, and yet, not too aggressive.

Who or what inspires you in your work?
Oh, the sheer diversity in talent that my colleagues possess. I’m constantly learning new things about behavioral science, qualitative analysis, design theory, linguistics…it goes on and on. The breadth of expertise at ILLUME is impressive, but so is the passion that everyone brings to their work every day. It makes for a fun and engaging work environment.

Do you have any pets?
I don’t have any pets but there are countless insects, lizards, birds, bats, and rabbits that live just outside my front door. It’s a perfect arrangement for all parties involved.

What are your favorite hobbies?
I fell in love with backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I was also lucky enough to live in Montana for seven years where I hiked during most of my summers and snowboarded in the winter. Traveling is also something I find deeply satisfying (though I wouldn’t recommend driving in Naples).

Me, in Italy this past summer.

What’s your favorite quote or motto?
I never get tired of reading the prologue to Bertrand Russell’s autobiography What I Have Lived For.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I sold Kirby vacuums door-to-door for a single day in undergrad. It was as terrible as it sounds.

What is the best concert you ever attended?
I’m not one for concerts. However, while living in Portland, I got to sit front row at a Roxane Gay reading of “Hunger” at Powell’s, the iconic bookstore. Gay’s writing, much like her, is raw and unapologetic. She writes just about in any genre, even comics. Roxane Gay jokingly (or maybe not jokingly) refers to Beyoncé as her god. Roxane Gay is my Beyoncé.

What is your superpower?
Humor. When faced with difficult situations, my parents often said, “You can laugh, or you can cry.” As a result, I always try to find the humor in tough or frustrating situations. Levity keeps one afloat, especially when dealing with data!

If you could have chosen another career path, what would you be doing?
I’m a first generation Albanian-American and understand how vulnerable our immigrant populations can be. My alternative career path would involve advocacy for immigrant communities. Coming to a new country can be terrifying and there are so many resources that immigrants may not be aware of. It would be satisfying to help newly-arrived immigrants feel welcome and get settled.