Boss Up: College Scholars Explore Careers Paths at Annual Summit

Getting into college is tough. Staying in can be even harder. And adulting? It can be downright stressful, even under the best of circumstances.

That’s why East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) launched College Scholars in 2012 — to provide students with the support and resources to successfully navigate the complexities of higher education and beyond. A program highlight: our full-day Summit held annually in January. An opportunity to reconnect with fellow students and attend sessions designed to support their learning, Summit exposes our scholars to the possibilities that await them.

“We may be ‘Community Based. College Bound,’ but we want to ensure that we also open doors for our scholars,” said Vynessa Ortz, director of College Access and Success. “Summit is designed with the future in mind.”

This year, scholars attended workshops focusing on career, social justice, and health and wellness, receiving guidance on real-world situations — from applying to graduate school, to developing personal elevator pitches, to discussing how to safely exercise their rights as students of color interfacing with law enforcement.

And to ensure that our young women scholars can learn from role models who are forging the way and breaking the glass ceiling, EHTP held its 2nd Annual Be a Boss panel and networking session. Because while many of us proudly proclaim that the Future is Female, EHTP also recognizes that the job marketplace hasn’t necessarily gotten the memo.

Scholars joined women industry leaders to discuss charting their paths in the professional world. Panelists Esther Mireya Tejeda of Entercom, Rosemonde Pierre-Louis of NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, and Nicole Davison Fox of Summit Rock Advisors, fielded questions from Leslie Ortiz, an EHTP alumna with Aya Healthcare.

Panelists described various avenues that scholars can take after college, followed by “speed dating” networking sessions with more than 30 professionals representing the fields of entertainment, law, business, the nonprofit sector and more. “This event is a perfect opportunity for our young women to see themselves in executive roles and as industry leaders,” said Vynessa Ortiz.

Jocelyn Roman, one of our College Scholars, agrees. “EHTP showed us so many career possibilities, and the fact that we met female professionals was even better. I’m passionate about women’s rights, and it gives me joy that other women are succeeding, that not only men can do these things.” Roman, who did some serious networking and has an upcoming informational interview with one of the professionals in attendance, noted, “A lot of these women are really powerful, and it meant a lot that they made the time to talk to us.”

What else did the scholars learn from these boss ladies? A lot. And for those students who feel less than sure about where they will land after graduation, there was a reassuring message:
It’s ok to shift course.

“I actually wanted to be Diana Ross,” said Pierre-Louis.”From the time I was a young girl, I had been signing, dancing. I really thought my entire life that I was going to be on Broadway.” At the same time, “I always wanted to be at the adult table talking about politics and social justice. … Being able to pursue multiple things … was one of the best things about college. Sometimes you go in thinking you’re going to be one thing and come out something completely different.”

Fox added that there “was a moment in my career where I was in the job I went to grad school to get. It looked good on my resume, but I was not feeling excited to get up in the morning to go to work.” She reassessed, then created the career that she wanted. Tejeda concurred, and said for her, “it wasn’t a straight path.”

The group also got down to brass tacks with some practical advice.“One of the biggest challenges that I have routinely with the younger professionals … is that they have an understanding of the job that is not the actual job,” said Tejeda. “Get as much actual experience doing the work. Intern, volunteer, go for informationals, meet people who do this work. Really understand the industry so you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

 

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