Career experts agree that in addition to experience and education, a major factor in achieving your goals is the power of your professional network. Networking can help an individual improve skills, gain industry resources, and make connections to employers. It’s never too early to learn how to network: NYCHA recently hosted a speed networking event to connect young residents to professionals to foster their future career goals.
On April 25, 37 young people from NYCHA’s Youth Leadership Councils (YLC) met with 37 professionals at NYCHA’s second annual speed networking event. YLCs provide residents ages 14 to 21 with training and mentoring to help them address important issues in their communities.
“Having an opportunity to meet so many mentors provides our youth with a potential glimpse into their futures,” said Curtis Williams, Manager in NYCHA’s Resident Engagement Department. “These meaningful exchanges with a diverse group of mentors from multiple industries are important because they plant a seed and reinforce to them that anything is obtainable – and seeing is believing!”
NYCHA used a speed mentoring toolkit from NYC Service, a division of the Mayor’s Office, to design the event. During a series of short, focused conversations, YLC members met individually with a series of mentors for 10 minutes each. These one-on-one conversations provided an opportunity to talk to a variety of professionals about their jobs, education, training, and experience.
“It was fascinating to learn about people’s career paths, from working for the government to entrepreneurship,” said Ariel DeCamp, a YLC member from Zone 7, which serves Brownsville, East New York, and Cypress Hills in Brooklyn. “It encouraged me to be more open to pursuing a different career choice.”
Volunteer mentors represented public, private, and non-profit organizations, as well as entrepreneurs from the Food Business Pathways program, and included EmblemHealth, Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, the NYC Department of Education, Taylor Made Creations for All Occasions, Quantum Leap Fitness, and more.
YLC members were grateful for the opportunity to connect with professionals. Dixon Suazo, a YLC member from Zone 1, which serves the South Bronx, said: “I felt thankful that so many people took time to talk to us. Race or color doesn’t matter – we all work so hard to change our community. I didn’t realize how hard people work to get to where they are in their careers. Many of them came from a hard life and still made it to where they are by working hard for it. I really want to thank them all.”