Nicole is the Institutional Relationship Manager for Brown Advisory. Nicole said she was happy in her career but she could always improve her skills. After she graduated from college she worked as an administrative assistant for two years at Brown Advisory. This helped her get her foot in the door and allowed her to work her way up at the company. While working there, she made the best of her experience and immersed herself as much as possible. Nicole said, “never go to the next position unless you’ve mastered the first position.” Later on she worked as a mutual funds investor for a couple years. Nicole decided to take some time off to focus on raising her children. When she chose to go back to work, she was nervous about the gap in her employment. However, because of the strong connections she made, she was able to come back to the same company and now works with nonprofits. She says, “Your opportunity is what you make it”. When asked about the key to networking success, she said, “Asking questions. Never be afraid to ask questions because it’ll lead you right where you need to be.”
Ebony spent 14 years in the United States Air Force. In 2012, she left the military and began work in the private sector. She said, “It was bit challenging for me because I had to change… I was so used to the air force.” Ebony began her transition from an intelligence analyst in the military to a technical writer. It took a while, which she found a bit frustrating. “People think just because you’re into the military, you’ll get a job easily… Not true.” Ebony ended up finding a position with the federal government. However, while her career was excelling she was facing personal problems. She was in an abusive relationship and ended up having to relocate and change jobs. Now Ebony is a dedicated political advocate to pass laws for women and children in abusive situations. Ebony is also an advocate for personal growth through creating your own business. She said, “If no one is going to hire you, you have to create your own business. Network. Volunteer. Community service. Never limit yourself to just your job, explore your skills.” In Ebony’s spare time, she belongs to several organizations for the empowerment of women, women of color, and children.
Angela is a Baltimore city native, mother of four, and the visionary founder of Phynyx Ministries. Phynyx Ministries is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the recovery of young women who have been sexually assaulted. Angela is a two-time survivor of sexual assault. When she was 24 she was sexually assaulted at gunpoint. She said when she asked God, “why me?” the response was “I want you to be a light to others.” Though Angela came from a rough neighborhood, she said it never stopped her from wanting more. After Angela graduated college she found a job at Merrill Lynch. She worked there for 16 years until she finally decided it was time to follow her dream and create Phynyx Ministries. When asked where the unique name for the organization came about, she described the story of the Phoenix that was burnt to ashes but rose even more beautiful than before. She said, “The phoenix is a reflection of me.” Angela encourages others to share their story and find their greatness. “You have greatness in you and people are waiting for you to stand into it.” She also believes in the power of networking, describing it as an art that is necessary in the business world.
Chip is a first generation American and grew up on the countryside. His father and grandfather were insurance salesmen known for their personality and charisma. Growing up, Chip had learning disabilities that made school difficult for him, but he also possessed a unique charisma. Chip, like his father and grandfather, also spent his adult career in sales. Chip buys and sells companies. He has done this with over 30 companies. Chip said, “Find your gift, what you’re passionate about…and go for it. That’s the beginning of my journey but it is not over.”
Until last year, Leslie was the senior executive in a tech company that focused on the business development aspect. Leslie was successful in her career despite the challenges she faced growing up with an abusive aunt. She graduated from high school at 16 and received a full scholarship to Stanford University. Leslie ended up dropping out after a year because she needed to focus on herself and recover from her past. She settled in Boston for a bit where she started a family and had four kids. At this point she decided to go back to college. After she graduated she became an assistant social worker and then later went to get her Master of Business Administration degree. “I figured out what I was good at. I loved my first job with the tech-company because technology is always growing and advancing.” Leslie’s life was progressing smoothly, until two of her children had committed suicide, causing Leslie to take time off from her job to allow herself to heal. When she got back in the game, she found a consultant job. One of her clients introduced her to a friend who was the CEO at a tech company. He ended up offering her a position at his company for twice what she was making at her previous job. Leslie’s job was incredibly demanding. “Sometimes, I would work 80-hour weeks.” Leslie is now working with nonprofit organization and loves it. She said, “You don’t have to follow the straight, conventional plan to success. If you fall, take the time to heal.”
Dawn is a former client of Maryland New Directions. She completed the two-week employment-training program in December after she was laid off from her full-time job. She is currently employed, helping people with disabilities find employment. Dawn is truly appreciative for MND. When Dawn was selected for her current position, she asked, “Why did you pick me?” Her supervisor told her, “Because you sent a thank you card.” She says, “These are the skills you learn at MND. Learning is nothing if you don’t put it into practice.” Dawn is striving to be the best her that she can be. As a former client, she had a lot of valuable advice to give. She suggested: to tweak your resume and cover letter, set goals, encourage yourself and get serious about your job search. She even jokes that her mother once said “You made a career out of looking for job.” The most important advice that Dawn wanted us to leave with is to be a blessing, regardless of life being rough. “Be a blessing as you get your blessing”.
Thank you to all our speakers for sharing your career stories. We were truly inspired!