Finding your first job after college can be like solving a puzzle. To succeed, you'll need to gather the necessary information, connect the dots, and figure out the best way to reach your goal. As someone who developed an interest in business and finance during high school, I wish I had learned more about the different pieces needed to solve this puzzle earlier on. It was only after becoming a Goldberg Scholar during college that I gained a clearer vision and the necessary tools to pursue my career aspirations successfully.
Not all students go on to find mentors like I did. In a recent survey from MENTOR, a national nonprofit that advocates and provides resources for mentoring, Generation Z students reported having fewer mentors than older generations. Years of studies show that mentorship plays an instrumental role in the career progression of diverse talent, and I can attest to that firsthand. The Dave Goldberg Scholarship Program provided me with invaluable firsthand experience and insights from successful professionals who have traveled the path I hope to take. This has served as a compass that guides my decisions and points me in the right direction. Sheryl Sandberg, in particular, has had a lasting impact on my career. Having had the privilege of receiving career and life advice from someone as accomplished and kind as she is, has been an opportunity of a lifetime. Her example is a constant source of inspiration for me, and her advice has proven indispensable in my professional journey.
My career journey was also significantly impacted by the guidance and support of a remarkable individual, Sky Dayton. Not only did he open doors for me, but he also imparted his knowledge and wisdom to help me achieve my professional goals. I admire him greatly, and his commitment to excellence inspired me to strive for greatness and prepare myself for future opportunities. The impact of having a mentor like him is immeasurable, as it motivates me to achieve my full potential.
While college provides the academic knowledge necessary to enter the workforce, it is only part of the equation. Career development opportunities, industry-specific skills, and relationships are all essential components that set one up for success. However, college also affords students the gift of time to explore their passions and develop their skills in a particular field. This time is crucial in preparing for the future and laying the foundation for a successful career.
My connections with other scholars were also critical in shaping my career trajectory. Hearing about the dreams and goals of other Goldberg Scholars inspired me to set high standards and strive for excellence. It also provided a support network that I could count on, giving me friendships that will last a lifetime. It is essential to have a support network that shares your values and supports you in pursuing your goals.
To those looking to start their careers after high school or college, here’s my advice: find a mentor. The journey to finding your dream job may not be easy, but having someone in your corner can give you confidence early in your career.
Horus Hernandez is KIPP alum.