June 11, 2021 Category: Our Programs

Finding your “Why”: The Fresh Air Team Shares Advice with our Graduates

As we celebrate our 2021 College Connections Program (CCP) graduates, we asked the Fresh Air team to share career advice to encourage, empower and guide our young people as they begin their next chapter.  

Fresh Air staff from different departments ranging from Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) and Development to Camping hosted a virtual panel offering advice they have learned from their own professional and personal journeys.  

Roberto Gil – Deputy Director of Camping & Year-Round Programs 

Finding and knowing your “why” is so important because when you know your “why” and love your “why,” going to work is no longer a chore. 

Anthony Parker – Community Outreach Manager 

Enjoy it. Figure out what it is that excites you and feeds your spirit and do that. The rewards of income and jobs will all fall into place and if you follow your passion, you’ll be fine.  

Angela Bonato – College Connections Program Manager 

I would tell myself to make more mistakes, and to be ok with making mistakes, and to forgive myself. And then keep on keeping on. 

“What helped you get your dream job?”: That is where mentors come in. When you are applying for jobs, it is easy to get discouraged. You are like “maybe this isn’t the right field for me, I don’t know what I want to do.” That is where having a really strong support system comes in because they will let you know that whatever decision you make is just that, it’s a decision. You can always make another one at any point in your life. I would encourage everyone to get a mentor, and as part of CCP we have mentors! Just to have someone in your corner, that is always willing to be honest with you, but encouraging as well.  

“What do you say to people when they think that you are not capable.”: Use it as fuel… your success is just that, it’s yours. 

Ridwan Olatiwera – Fresh Air Alum & Summer Spaces Assistant Director

When you fall, cry, dust your hands off, and keep going. 

Making decisions should be a conversation where both sides are heard. With parents or friends, I think you should try your best to find that middle ground. 

Never stop being curious. 

Jade Callahan – Support Services Coordinator 

Don’t pressure yourself to have the rest of your life all figured out right now. You still have a lot of life to live and experiences to have. Don’t feel like you are only able to choose one professional path. Some of you may know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life and that’s fantastic! Some of you may not be so sure. Focus on your interests and how working in that area can help you create security for yourself. But don’t ever stop dreaming and going after the things you want to achieve in life. There is only one you and you are so needed in this world! 

Cesar Rodriguez – Field Manager, Friendly Towns 

I’ve learned as a social worker, to meet people where they are, and to do the same for myself. You have to meet yourself where you’re at and enjoy that process. You overcome it by not fearing your failures. Overcome them and know that they’re a part of who you are, they add to your story. 

Brandan Lucas – Systems Administrator, IS&T 

Something that has challenged me professionally, and I’ve felt this way since I was in elementary school but now, they have a name for it, is Imposter Syndrome. That plagues me every day of my life. For anyone who doesn’t know, Imposter Syndrome is feeling inadequate at the position you have or the work that you’re doing. I haven’t gotten over it, but what does help is having friends and team members around you that reinforce you and empower you. And telling myself that I would not be where I am if I was not qualified to be here. It’s a mantra you have to tell yourself every now and then, “I belong here. I deserve to be here.” 

Bindu Balan – Deputy Director of Development 

From the early days of my career, to even now, figuring out how to stay true to who I am, knowing how to use my voice at the table and feeling confident that I have every right to be there, and that I have done the work to be at those tables. “What do you say to people when they think that you are not capable?” I don’t really say anything, I just show them. Actions are far more convincing than words. 

Kayla Paulino – Tutoring & High School Placement Coordinator 

You are going to adapt, you are going to grow, you are going to find challenges in your experiences that are going to teach you.  Push yourself to try new things. 

Adapt, reflect, trust, learn, believe, and be kind to yourself. You can decide tomorrow that you are going to switch things up in your life. Where you are right now, is just the beginning.