#WorkLifeGoals: Pat Feria on Teach for the Philippines, NGO Work, and Coming Home

We hear a lot of stories about people deciding to dedicate their lives early on to purpose-driven careers, like Delfin Villafuerte of Teach for the Philippines. But we don’t hear as many stories of people who left the Philippines, and then came back home to dedicate themselves to a purpose-driven career here. Or at least, I don’t see a lot of stories like that on my news feed. And that’s why today’s #WorkLifeGoals post aims to bring a story just like that to you, dear readers.

Hey there, I’m Justine, my partner is Betina, and this is The Border Collective, your one-stop shop for all things interning related here in the Philippines! We’re currently on a writing hiatus because Betina and I are off at time-intensive internships at two of the biggest FMCG’s in the country, so yea, we’re a little busy.

To fill the gap while we’re gone, I decided to launch an aspirational career path feature here on TBC, ergo, enter #WorkLifeGoals! Spearheaded by the ever lovely, Annicka Koteh, TBC’s resident editorial assistant and amazing intern, #WorkLifeGoals features people with interesting narratives from the time they were in college to their current work lives. You don’t have to be a multi-hyphenate like Ceej Tantengco, or have a huge following like Abbey Sy, to be on #WLG. Just have a path you made your own. 🙂

I won’t keep you from Annicka and today’s insanely interesting feature anymore. Thanks for reading and hope Pat Feria inspired you as much as she did me!


Annicka: Hey there, dear readers! For this third installment, #WorkLifeGoals finally delves into the for-purpose, non-profit world. That’s not to say our previous interviewees do anything less socially relevant (just look back to Ceej Tantengco’s media advocacies and Abbey Sy’s stance against the “starving artist” mindset), but here, we’re about to tackle social work specifically from the NGO perspective.

And lest you think that perspective merely amounts to rainbows and good intentions, we talked to Patricia Feria for the real deal on what it takes to pioneer change.

Patricia’s expertise in enterprise management crosses countries and industries. Once upon a time, she was a Management Engineering student in Ateneo de Manila University, but eventually moved stateside to finish an Economics degree—from the University of Pennsylvania as a cum laude, no less. With her background, it’s natural that her career started in high-level finance: working in Citibank New York as a power and utilities analyst, becoming an associate in the same field, then serving as a global macro analyst at Bridgewater Associates.

Fast forward ten years later, however, and Patricia found herself traveling back home in search of something beyond the numbers, or rather, something that could combine her aptitude for them with a lasting social impact. Enter Teach for the Philippines (TFP): an organization recruiting young Filipino leaders to teach in public schools across the nation.

My last 10 years have come together today.#TFPFlipped Our 8-10 yo kids just learned about savings, investing and well, the stock market. To top it off, they learned that they can buy shares ("aka SAPI") of Jollibee, and enjoy its chicken too.#leaveyourmark #TEACHMinds
My last 10 years have come together today.#TFPFlipped Our 8-10 yo kids just learned about savings, investing and well, the stock market. To top it off, they learned that they can buy shares (“aka SAPI”) of Jollibee, and enjoy its chicken too.#leaveyourmark #TEACHMinds

TFP uses the brightest local minds to mold those of the next generation, and Patricia has been one of its driving forces since 2012. She initially headed the organization’s Admissions program before moving to her current role as Chief Strategic Resources Officer (CSRO).

So what does that mean, exactly? We asked that too, and it’s best that we leave you with Patricia to explain her own life-changing work. Here’s what she had to say about TFP, education equity, and her career journey. Happy reading!

 


What were the biggest influences in your career path? How have you gotten to where you are today?

PF: I’ve learned over the years that who we are is a sum-product of all the decisions we’ve made in our lives (consciously or subconsciously) and of the people we’ve allowed in or shut out. My experiences from school, having had to live with and engage with individuals from different backgrounds, faiths, principles and value systems, working both locally and abroad have contributed to everything I am today. It is how I am able to contribute to TFP.

What drew you to TFP and its advocacy in the first place? What are your responsibilities as Chief Strategic Resources Officer (CSRO) of the organization?

PF: The CSRO manages the resources necessary to grow and scale Teach for the Philippines and ensures the organization has the capabilities it needs to run effectively.

The role affords me the opportunity to work with an internal team and with external stakeholders in government, corporations, start-ups, multilateral agencies, and other not for profits passionate about education.

Most importantly, I have the privilege of being able to share so many beautiful stories about some of the most successful, most determined, and most inspiring people I’ve met. Our public school students, teacher partners, principals, administrators, (former and current) TFP team, and all other partners in nation-building have such a wealth of experiences that will make you cry, or laugh, and sometimes, do both at the same time!

Would you recommend that aspiring social workers gain experience in private industries or corporate jobs first, as you have?

PF: I am grateful for the path I’ve chosen and the opportunities it has afforded me because I am able to see the world through multiple perspectives.  For example, I can sit comfortably across a business person to discuss the work of Teach for the Philippines in a manner that convinces him or her we are worth investing in.  Simultaneously, I enjoy being in the grass roots, with members of our school communities, as it helps me best understand their needs and how we can best help them help themselves.

I took a leap of faith leaving the world of Finance for a stint in development.  I didn’t plan to stay as long as I have but every day I wake up with a spring in my step because I am doing what I love and I see the tangible benefits of our collective effort.

3rd Birthday
Simcha. /’simCHə/ The experience of the soul that comes when you are doing what you should be doing. #leaveyourmark #TeachTurnsThree

If you’re unsure, I strongly believe it’s about getting up and just trying.  You’ll never really know fully what it is you are called to do if you sit back and simply ponder the meaning of life.  Go roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

What advice can you give to youth who want to contribute to the country but don’t know where to start yet, or those torn between passion and profit in their career paths?

PF: I believe in doing what you’re good at. Or what it is that makes perfect sense to you.  Or whatever it is that makes you come alive every day.

Let me share some wisdom from a former professor, G. Richard Shell. He writes,

“Before luck can work its magic, success starts with the thing you do better than most, whether that is writing, working with your hands, making a tight and convincing argument, cooking, or creating designs.”

Many years ago, I was told to Go find what it is you most care about.”  For some, it’s saving the turtles, for others, world peace. I didn’t have to look very far to find what it was I cared most about.  To me, education was more than just a gift, it is a right. At Teach for the Philippines, just like our DepEd partners and champions, we believe that all Filipino children deserve an excellent and relevant education.

 

How has TFP evolved since you first became a part of it? What factors have influenced its growth, and where do you see it going?

PF: We started out in just Quezon City, across 10 schools, with 53 Teacher Fellows. Today, we are in 9 cities, across 23 schools, and have two batches of alumni and two cohorts in the classroom.

We’ve come quite a long way since we first launched in 2012.  In fact, Teach for the Philippines was recently recognized in Universum’s Top 10 List of Attractive Employers in the PH. Alongside longstanding and globally recognized institutions like Google, Department of Education, United Nations and the country’s leading broadcasting companies, the organization is pleased that close to 7,000 university students recognized the organization as a Top 10 Employer for Liberal Arts Majors and Top 15 Employer for Natural Science Majors.

By 2020, we aim to have presence across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao but more importantly, we hope to have set up Centers of Excellence in at least 5-6 cities. You see, our work is not about breadth, it is about going deep and really establishing lasting relationships in our communities and cities.  This means having our alumni continue to commit to education reform in whatever capacity they choose (be it corporate, government, education or social enterprise).

The most important factor that has influenced our growth is an ironclad commitment to continuous improvement.  We are constantly seeking and giving each other honest feedback.  We stop and listen to all stakeholders, including our most important one, our elementary school students.  We try to live out the core values of TFP which include but are not limited to learning something from everything and everyone, focusing on the mission, and maintaining our integrity.

At Teach for the Philippines, we believe that learning should come alive even beyond the four walls of the classroom. We constantly look for partners to take our students on their first fieldtrips (ever) and run events like Teach for the Philippines Week Flipped to create a sense of possibility.
At Teach for the Philippines, we believe that learning should come alive even beyond the four walls of the classroom. We constantly look for partners to take our students on their first fieldtrips (ever) and run events like Teach for the Philippines Week Flipped to create a sense of possibility.

Additionally, would you like to give a message to the youth regarding your personal advocacies? We would love for your passion to inspire others as well.

PF: If you’re a college graduate or senior looking for both meaningful work and meaningful relationships, join us!  Applications to our Fifth Cohort go live this July 8th.  Please visit our website for details!


Annicka: Patricia is one among many who have been inspired by TFP. She invites you to read about the TFP fellows’ teaching experiences here.

In particular, these stories are her personal favorites:

If you’re looking to contribute in the same way, the good news is that TFP has loads of opportunities for involvement! You can apply to be a teacher fellow, a full-time or part-time staff member, or even an intern through their Civic Engagement Program!

Just head to http://www.teachforthephilippines.org for more information on the required qualifications and application processes.

So, that’s a wrap on my end for tonight’s #WorkLifeGoals segment! You’ll hear from me and another kickass interviewee next week, but until then, here’s Justine to tide you over with a few TBC announcements.


Justine: Hey there guys, before I get started with the announcements, I want to share why today’s #WorkLifeGoals is so important to me.

The standard thing adults tell me all the time is to go abroad and work + live there, and my life is going to be amazingly fantastic with everyone envying me for living such a wonderful lifestyle. Leave the Philippines and never think of it again, in other words. And to me, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. No judgement. Live life as you want it or whatever. But what are my options if I decide to stay here and help the Philippines?

Not a lot, honestly. It’s choosing between a cushy lifestyle or a life filled with purpose everyday. I’m over generalizing it, but that’s roughly the only two paths here. And that’s cool too. But I’m selfish. I want to do both. I want to go abroad, steal all the knowledge and skills I can from them, and bring it back here to live a life filled with purpose everyday. While living a cushy lifestyle, because I cannot deny that I enjoy the finer things in life.

So, seeing Pat Feria’s story is of the utmost importance to me. It tells me that my dream is possible (though I have not asked Pat Feria if she is living a cushy lifestyle, I’m just assuming). I want a career path like that. Go abroad, do amazingly, and then journey back home and change the Philippines using the skills and knowledge I gained from the outside world. And I wanted to tell other people, like me who aren’t as informed, that there are career paths like this.

Nothing is impossible, just highly improbable. So, dream big, dear readers. And dream smart.

Now onto other news!

CAMP is having a conference and is looking for volunteers to make it a smooth-flowing and overall awesome event. Betina is handling it, so the smooth-flowing part is down for sure. But they still need manpower for what is undoubtedly going to be a huge, and educational event.

This is where I come in with telling you guys that volunteering for CAMP Conference would be a huge resume booster. This will fall under either work or volunteer experience, depending on what else you have in your resume. And this is also a chance for you to sneak talk to Betina and me. I’m an open and insanely talkative person in general and she’ll be too busy thinking about the event so any chat not about the event would probably be welcome. Probably.

So, if you want to fill a line in your resume while helping out a great advocacy, and having an experience you can talk about in your interviewsvolunteer for CAMP Conference! You can probably even ask me during the event how you can insert it into your resume and how you can talk about it in your interview, depending on how big a role you played during the event. Can’t wait to meet whoever volunteers for registration with me!!

Up next here on the blog is another Intern-view, brought to us by Bea Pelayo and this week’s guest writer, our very first DLSU feature! I can’t wait for you to see everything we have in store in the coming weeks, thanks to our amazing interns, like KitKat Bondoc.

We’re setting up our LinkedIn group for faster information dissemination, like about job opportunities we come by or articles we learned something from or anything at all. Skies the limit on what we talk about there, so I suggest you make a LinkedIn because duh, how will you show off your amazing work experience to others without one! Leave it blank if you like, we’ll help you fill it up soon enough. 🙂

If you have anything you want to ask, say, or comment about to either Betina or me, email us at either justine@thebordercollective.com or betina@thebordercollective.com! For partnerships and business deals, you can email us at admin@thebordercollective.com!

And if you want to get a faster reply, message us on The Border Collective’s Facebook page!

If you have any questions to ask us anonymously or anything you want us to write about, drop it into our ask.fm and Google Form! We’re always happy to help, though we may be slow in replying because of work. 🙂

Thanks for reading and hope Pat wrote something useful for you! She wrote something inspirational to me. 🙂

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