What is your current job?
I am a Program Coordinator with a non-profit organization named StreetWise Partners, Inc. StreetWise Partners' goal is to reduce unemployment in the New York City and Washington, DC areas through a Career Ventures career mentoring program. The program pairs underemployed or unemployed adults with one or two mentors for the duration of a 13-week, structured program. My job is to manage trainee (client) and volunteer recruitment and to coordinate 4 annual programs, ensuring high-quality programming and retention of program participants.
Why did you choose this profession?
I am very mission-driven so I sought out an organization that furthered a cause I believed in and a position in which I could use my strengths in relationship-building, organization and attention to detail. Through my study abroad courses in multiculturalism, my thesis research on the immigrant population in Germany, my internship with a refugee resettlement agency in Philadelphia and my experience teaching and living abroad, I knew I wanted to work in a multicultural, diverse environment in helping people adapt to life in the US. I originally looked for positions with organizations that service just refugee or immigrant populations, but after some time I expanded my search with the realization that I simply care deeply about helping people reach their potential and bridge gaps. In my job, I get to meet and help people from diverse backgrounds break out of the cycle of poverty and strive towards self-sufficiency. I had some experience working on job readiness courses and in teaching/designing curriculum, so I also appreciate that aspect of my work.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
I love coordinating and directing moving pieces so that everything falls into place and is set up for success. I am looking to further my leadership role and eventually move into a Program Manager position, and then a Program Director position. I am also looking to move into a larger organization that is internationally-based and which involves international concerns, mediation and travel, such as the UN. To accomplish this, I am considering further education such as a Master's or MBA in the short-term. I am still unsure which degree program I will apply for, whether it be in International Communication, Non-Profit Administration or a Business degree. In the long-term, I want to continually advance, learn, teach and expand my horizons, both in perspective and in location.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
So far, I would say that every decision or change I have made has turned out to be a positive career move. I am still early in my career and have been propelling forward so far. The decisions that stand out the most are those that have narrowed down my interests and gave me a deeper understanding of the seemingly endless possibilities of paths I could take. I applied for and was accepted into the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for Germany, and, although the pay was quite low and by the 3rd month into it I knew for sure teaching in public systems wasn't for me, it was a relief to have a better understanding of not just the profession, but of myself as well. While doing the assistantship, I got to work with refugees to Germany outside of work, and afterward I attribute it on my resume to why I was invited in for interviews. A more recent and relatively fresh change I made was to switch positions from my role in NYC as a Coordinator to the Coordinator role in Washington, DC. Acting as mediator between the two cities, taking on more responsibility in the understaffed region and expanding my network were some of the motivations, but it also has downsides. Regardless of the negatives and even though I am still assessing the new environment, I am certain I will not look on this change as a net negative in the future. Rather, with so much fluidity, movement and growth within and between careers, the only negative move might be to not make one.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
There are many levels on which Haverford has influenced my career. There are the obvious ones that the classes offered and quality of professors guided me to the experiences and majors I chose, as well as that the prestige of the school and attention of the deans helped me to get accepted into the Fulbright program and ultimately launched my career. More subtly, the interconnectedness of the students, campus employees, professors and staff, of all areas and sectors, encouraged me to treat everyone as an equal, to not make or always question assumptions, and to fight against misperceptions and stereotypes in my professional occupation. I grew tremendously from working in the dining center, to assisting the horticulturalists at my work-study arboretum job, to expanding my friend and professional network in the alumni relations office, to growing with peers and ultimately feeling like a part of something much bigger, beyond what my upbringing, the media, my schooling had taught me. Haverford helped me realize how little I knew and how many assumptions I had, and instilled in me a passion for addressing social justice and awareness in my career.