January 14, 2022 Category: Our Impact

Finding your “Why”: The Fresh Air Team Shares Advice for the New Year!

We are excited for the new adventures that 2022 will bring! To begin the new year, we asked our Fresh Air team for advice to inspire and empower our young people on their journey as many are graduating high school, starting college and internships or exploring new hobbies!  

Mahira Ahmad – Accounting Manager

“I advise them to challenge themselves in the workspace and accept the challenges they come across with a positive attitude. These challenges will test your skills and will help you further advance in your career. ” 

Helen P. O’Reilly – General Counsel 

“My best professional advice is to write thank you notes — ideally hand-written. Take the time to tell people who help you throughout your career that you appreciate them and pay attention to staying in touch with people. Being kind goes a long way.  Also, I find it helpful not to compare myself to others. I remember very well a job I had during college summers: it was really boring, but it paid a good hourly salary. I needed to earn money more than I needed “good experience,” so I did that job for many summers. Was it the best job? No. Did my friends have better, more interesting jobs?  Yes.  But I remember that summer job well. It helped me financially at a time I needed it.  Also, looking back, I think it taught me that everyone is on their own journey: comparing yourself to someone else (and feeling bad) is almost always a waste of time. Do your best, work hard, be kind and focus on the future.” 

Kaylyn Atkins – Assistant to the Executive Director  

Never stop being curious. Curiosity will always lead you to conversations with the right people and opportunities at the right places that can help you find a career path that you love. As you enter the new year, remind yourself to keep an open mind, ask questions, make connections and reassure yourself that you are always exactly where you need to be.” 

Katie Toole – Assistant Director of Sharpe Reservation  

“The career advice I stand by fully is that employees are the most important resource any organization has. Starting a career or looking for a job isn’t just about finding a place where you can work, it’s about finding a place you can thrive. Yes, employers have money to give. But without amazing people employers have nothing. So, in the interview process remember it’s as much about you interviewing the organization to see if it’s a place where you can thrive as it is about them deciding if they think you’re a fit.  

Working in a place where the culture makes you feel comfortable will allow you to ask questions, help innovate and feel valued. The Fresh Air Fund is a place where we’re encouraged to ask questions, problem solve creatively, and collaborate – all of these are things I love about work. One of the reasons I love it here is that we get presented with impossible problems and through collaboration and creative thinking we’re able to do things we never thought we could and most of the time our solutions are programs for youth that we get to watch young people enjoy which is the greatest reward and privilege.” 

Zachary Malave – Corporate Engagement Coordinator 

 “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin 

This quote speaks powerfully to me and my voyage with life. Baldwin clarifies that we may not be able to achieve all our dreams of change, but that change can’t happen until people collectively acknowledge there is a problem. Throughout my life, I typically avoided my problems alongside the world’s problems, mainly because I was fearful of judgment and rejection. I was overwhelmed with this fear-based feeling that I couldn’t manifest the changes I want. With that, I’ve learned that we need to learn how to be ourselves, gain the courage to ask for the things we should be granted and speak our mind even when we anticipate that the people around us might get uncomfortable or don’t want to hear the truth. Remember, don’t only survive, but try to let yourself be; let yourself live care freely.” 

Kathleen Mallari – Development Database Associate 

“I was always passionate about helping others and building community, but it wasn’t that long ago when I pinpointed that I loved working with youth and helping foster their own development. It only clicked after I became more involved and gained more experience with young people. I studied abroad in Brazil where I volunteered in middle/high schools, I worked as an RA for 14-16 year old pre-professional dancers at a ballet intensive program, I interned at a non-profit that fights against bullying in the AAPI community – the list goes on. As a fellow young person having recently joined the workforce, I would tell other young people to take the time to cultivate their ‘why’ and what type of work would continuously motivate them, and to not be afraid to take on a job or volunteer opportunity that might seem outside of their career expectations. I always thought I would work for the government, but as fate and my own experiences would have it, I have found a great place at The Fresh Air Fund.” 

Jennie Krems – Special Events Manager 

 “Try out different career paths by doing internships, volunteer work or talking to people in those fields until you find what you enjoy doing. You will face challenges, but don’t give up. Always believe in yourself and keep growing and gaining experience and skills.”