Year Up offers an intensive, one-year training program for urban young adults, which provides them with a combination of technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend and a corporate internship. I get the privilege of supporting the students through their time with us.
This part of my job is humbling, both because of the honor of being a part of these students’ lives* and because of the vastly different skills I have had to exercise. Here are some of my observations from my first month working with Year Up students:
- Everything matters: Modeling professionalism is much more demanding than being professional. It requires consistently following the rules of the strictest workplace the students may face, knowing that my influence may set them up for success or failure when I can no longer help them. Deciding whether to iron that shirt is suddenly a decision with vast implications.
- Your whole health is critical: Since everything matters, resting is part of the job description. Skirting on sleep, not disengaging at the end of the day, or not eating appropriately matters both for my quality of life, and for the students. In high-pace non-profits, this also means that time management and efficiency are critical.
- The joy is in the journey: Being results driven is paramount to maintaining the advisor/advisee relationship focused on training the student for corporate America. However, enjoying the small, daily interactions that get the student there is also a necessary skill. Effective advising takes time. If my tendency as a professional is to rush towards the check mark on my to-do list, I need to build the skill of enjoying the “accomplishing” as much as the “accomplishment”.
* For a glance at the resilience and commitment of Year Up students, please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVH7d_QUdMs