By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Urban League of Philadelphia held its first-ever internship fair today, giving dozens of college students a chance to make that critical first impression on an employer and get their foot in the door.
Patricia A. Coulter, president and CEO of the Urban League, said the organization invited 70 students who are connected to the organization in some way to get a jumpstart on their career paths.
A few were interns looking to branch out, while others had received the Urban League’s “Community Scholars” college scholarships.
“We watch and track young people through college, especially African-American students in college,” Coulter says. “Many are coming from urban communities, and we find that they are primarily at the end of the internship cycle before they start looking. Much of that has to do with them not knowing the process for engagement with an employer.”
So, the organization asked some of their corporate partners to get involved in their first internship fair.
Representatives of nine companies set up shop this morning on the 23rd floor of the Independence Blue Cross building, in center city. Organizers say that despite the icy road conditions, the students arrived early and eager.
“They have a chance to talk to a person and look them in the eye, say what their strengths are, what they’re interested in, and then get some feedback from the employer at the same time,” Coulter said. “I think this will really bode well for the young people.”
Shaquille Brackett, 20, was one of the Urban League’s unpaid interns who tried to take advantage of this opportunity. He graduated from an IT certification course and said he wanted to take the time to find out what he really wants to do down the road.
“Not just one company, not just one thing.” he said. “As I work my way around, I’m just learning a little bit more about what I want to do. It’s a good soul-seeking thing for me right now.”
Cory Dulaney, 24, a graduate student in Temple University’s African-American Studies program, made his rounds talking to as many people as he could.
“I’m not really into financing but I talked to TD Bank and I learned something from them,” he said afterward. “It’s very important, even if you don’t know what you’re going into, just to go in with positivity and confidence.”
Dulaney (wearing white sweater in top photo) plans on getting a PhD, and said making connections today will eventually pay off for him in the grand scheme of things.
“I want to start a program, whether it be a nonprofit or through a foundation, that is geared toward youth education through the means of storytelling,” he said.
Samuella Takyi-Vuachie, 19, is a Drexel finance and marketing freshman. “It is crucial to start early,” she said. “I actually started having internships in my sophomore year in high school, so I have been doing this for quite a while.”
The Urban League plans on following up with the students on advancing their career-building skills. For students like Takyi-Vuachie, every little bit counts toward helping them meet their lofty dreams.
“My ultimate goal in life is to oversee global AIDS, and I plan to be in the United Nations,” she said.