A Conversation With Fardowsa Ibrahim

Earlier this month, the Mosaic Center for Students of Color (MCSC) gave out awards to recognize the achievements of students of color in the UVM community. We spoke with Fardowsa Ibrahim about the award she won, and how she sees her leadership skills growing in the years to come. Fardowsa was awarded the Lufuno Tshikororo Award. “I was very surprised,” Fardowsa said. “This wonderful opportunity motivated me even more to work with youth groups in my community. Particularly young Somali Bantu girls, knowing that I myself used and needed a lot support going through the education system.”

When asked what supports she leaned on this year in terms of developing her leadership, Fardowsa mentioned the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS), MSCS and her family. “I was pushed, motivated, challenged and most of all loved throughout the process.” Fardowsa credits SSS and the Mosaic Center for having helped instill in her a sense of confidence. She was able to rely on these supports systems, especially when she felt discouraged or disempowered.

“I hope to be able to help other youth fulfil their dreams,” Fardowsa offered when asked about her plans going forward. “I hope to be as supportive as I can. When I started at UVM, I was very shy, and now I feel like I have so much confidence to be able to stand up for what I believe in. I want everyone to know that anything is possible and never let anyone convince you that you can’t make it happen. I want to leave everyone with this John Quincy Adams quote that means a lot to me: ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’”

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The Benefits of Peer Mentorship

Riley Strawbridge (’19)

We spoke with Riley Strawbridge (’19), a Peer Mentor, about his experience thus far. “Working as a peer mentor was the best step to prepare me for my career after college,” Riley said. “It provided me both with a fantastic support network and also gave me the knowledge of what it takes to land a career. The Hub is a great space for personal development, all of the Career advisors are helpful and often will have a conversation directly with you on what you hope to do for a career.  Everyone in the space wants to see you succeed, and it makes the often nervewracking process of applying and interviewing much easier.”

We asked Riley how being a Peer Mentor has helped him personally feel more prepared to take on a job after college. Riley responded, “The NACE Competencies that I have solidified while working as a Career Peer Mentor are Professionalism and Work Ethic and Career Management. Being a Peer Mentor has given me exposure to hundreds of people’s stories about how they applied to a job. I have been able to take that information and create a good sense of how best to handle yourself in a professional environment. Being a Peer Mentor also has allowed me to practice my Career Management skills. I often give students my own elevator pitch to give them an example of what one should sound like. Through this I have learned how best to express my skills, interests, weaknesses and experiences.”

Finally, we asked Riley what advice he’d give to students who were interested in becoming a Peer Mentor for next year. Riley said, “I think that Peer Mentoring is the best way of learning how to do a specific skill. If you have to teach other students about career preparation then you will leave the position being way more comfortable in it. The best way for students to prepare for their career is engage in UVM’s community whether it be joining a club or finding a job. Becoming an active member of UVM’s community creates so many valuable connections going forward.”

Interested in applying to be a peer mentor? Applications are due March 30th!

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Intern & Change the World? Yes, You Can!

Amanda Morelli, ’17

 

Amanda Morelli (2017), a cultural anthropology and environmental studies major, spent her junior year studying abroad. With the help of a UVM Internship Scholarship, she was able to return to Central America in order to work with DESGUA, an organization that focuses on empowering returned and potential migrants through educational and economic justice.

Amanda credits this internship experience with helping to clarify her interests and goals. She notes, “Overall, my experience helped me explore my options of what I wanted to do after UVM. It confirmed that I was on the right track; that racial justice, youth development, and immigration/refugee related services are what I’m most passionate about. Being abroad also helped me realize that I want to pursue these interests more or less domestically, rather than internationally. My time abroad provided me with an extensive, more holistic comprehension of just how much of a dominant superpower the United States was, and continues to be. Throughout my time in Guatemala, I witnessed the horrible ways in which U.S. corporations, U.S. foreign policies, and the historical U.S. intervention has continuously brought injustices amongst the local people. That within itself really pushed me to want to work on creating long term, positive institutional and social change within my own country. Furthermore, Americans have this idea that they have to go to a developing country in order to make a difference, which very much plays into problematic concepts such as voluntourism and the white-savior complex. The reality is though, that help is needed right here in our own country and who better to work on that than us.”

Amanda’s experience combined career development, cultural immersion and community involvement. She describes her internship: “As an intern, the majority of my work involved translating, advertising, interviewing returned migrants, assisting with budget and sale strategies, and implementing various workshops and presentations for incoming foreigners. However, my time there also involved a lot of farming and really getting to know the local communities.”

For Amanda, living abroad and working with DESGUA helped her to stretch herself. She shares, “Forcing myself outside of my comfort zone in terms of living conditions, language, culture, and isolation thoroughly helped me gain confidence in both myself and in my abilities. I was able to enhance my Spanish skills significantly and learn a great deal about the complex causes and effects of migration in Guatemala specifically.”

Amanda has built upon her experiences at UVM and in Guatemala and now works at Clark University in the Multicultural and First-Generation Student Support office. She reports, “I really love the work I do. The Mosaic Center for Students of Color is what made my experience at UVM and so I’m excited to be given the chance to empower other students of color in that way.”

Sometimes great internship experiences like Amanda’s can seem out of reach. UVM Internship Scholarships are designed to help make it possible for you to participate in this kind of life changing experience.  Do you want to apply? Learn more about UVM Internship Scholarships here.

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Be Open To What Comes Your Way!

“It’s important to be kind to everyone you meet and to be open to opportunities—even ones that don’t initially seem like something that exactly fits in with your career goals,” reflects Jesse Cannon (’17). “It’s good to have a focus, but it’s okay to branch out. ” Jesse is currently a stage technician at Walt Disney World. She began working full-time just two weeks ago, after completing an internship she landed by networking with contacts her UVM professor introduced her to.

Reflecting on how she got to where she is, Jesse notes attending job fairs, conferences and job prep events (like Gear Up for Graduation) as key stepping stones. “It was really great to talk to everyone at Gear Up. I got some valuable feedback on presentation, learned about the job search process and really valued having my resume looked at by the resume doctors.”  Additionally, Jesse notes, “the LinkedIn and LGBTQA booths at Gear Up were both extremely helpful in approaching the process from the context of the real world outside of the college bubble. Definitely attend if you can, I’m so glad I went.”

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Creating Connections: Networking Advice From an Alum

Michaela Yarnell, UVM alum (’14) and Legislative Aide for Bernie Sanders, told us she would “not be where [she is] today without networking.” Yarnell began in the Sanders’ office as an intern and successfully moved up to her current position by networking with permanent staff.

The key to networking, according to Yarnell, is “perfecting your elevator speech.” Whether you’re attending a networking event, asking for an informational interview or actually bump into someone in an elevator, be prepared to offer “a succinct and clear thirty-second speech about yourself and your strengths.”

Michaela also recommends having a couple of questions at the ready. Her favorites are: “What are one or two things you know now that you wish you knew when you were an undergrad?” and “Can you tell me about a project you’re working on that would give me a sense of your day-to-day work?”  She also stressed the importance of doing some research beforehand, so you’ve got some specific and relevant questions.

Of course, not everyone you meet is someone you’ll want to keep in touch with, but when you do find someone you want to connect with, ask for an informational interview. “People like to talk about themselves,” Michaela notes, so don’t be afraid to ask.  When they agree, “go in armed with good questions and then give the interviewer the floor.”  And always be sure to follow up! “Don’t just email when you need something, find ways to stay in touch creatively and keep a steady drum beat of communication.”

Ultimately, networking is about creating personal relationships, so it’s important to connect well, and to walk away from the networking conversation with some action items or a new understanding of how you’ll move closer towards your goals.

Posted in Career Exploration, Networking
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