Consider a year of service as your first job out of college!

I recently went on a school tour in my community with City Year and had to share it with you as it’s something I wish I would have known about before I graduated college. 

City Year is a national service program for students ages 17-24 where students dedicate a year to helping students in public schools; benefits include a living stipend for your year of service as well as a $5,500 education award upon completion.

On my tour, I was struck by the innocent faces of the children (I toured a Title I elementary school), the dedication of the principal, and the joy of the City Year corps members
Our tour guide, a corps member, had a particular spark that radiated both from her smile and her glittery glasses. 

As we continued the tour I found out our tour guide’s name was Khady and that she too was a community college graduate. While finishing her Bachelor’s degree at UCF she is also working full time as a City Year corps member. 

I knew when I witnessed this program that I wanted to share it with you as a potential opportunity for your future, and I thought the best person to share more would be Khady.

Khady in her City Year uniform.

Below is an interview with her so you can learn more about her journey and why City Year has been such a great experience for her so far. 

You can also jump here to learn how to apply to City Year! 

Some fast facts about Khady: 

She started community college in 2009 after graduating high school and got her A.A. in Spring 2013 from Valencia College. She is majoring in psychology and is expected to graduate from UCF in 2015. She enjoys watching Netflix and Hulu and her favorite foods are salads and smoothies. 

1. Why did you choose community college?

I couldn’t afford university and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Valencia was near by and I knew some administration. I thought it would be good fit for me to grow.

2. Were there any obstacles you had to overcome in your life that helped you become who you are today?

Not knowing what I wanted to do and not having a solid foundation of college educated people; I wasn’t driven. Not having a drive to do school or to be educated I didn’t do well at first. After working in the “real world” and seeing a cap on my potential I knew I needed to get back in school and Valencia was the place for me.

3. What was one thing you did in community college that helped you be successful?

Taking time to study and read was beneficial. Valencia is a group based school and working in groups was so helpful that I brought that technique into my studies at UCF.

4. What drew you to City Year?

City Year found me. I was at school and saw the City Year booth. I read up on some things and saw that it was service based organization. My background is in service so I was interested. Seeing the benefits and also what I could do for our country, I knew it was a fit for me. I even met the recruiter through a friend and he was such a great help in the application process.

5. What have you loved about being involved about City Year so far?

I love being able to work with the scholars. Teaching them is different then what I have done with children before but it’s a learning process. 

I also am the outreach coordinator at Catalina Elementary School through City Year. This is a fun part of my responsibilities because I get to write a monthly service briefing on what’s going in our school. I also enjoy being the one to take all our guest around and show them the impact that City Year is doing.

6. How do you feel City Year is helping you grow towards your goals?

The work load is rigorous and time consuming. I feel as though once I graduate from my service at City Year I can do anything.

7. Doing City Year and going to college full time is a lot of work! Would you recommend this or recommend doing it after college?

I would recommend City Year for after college or right after high school. The work load is a lot. You are required to work a certain amount of hours for AmeriCorps certification. With the required hours for City Year and the required hours to be a dedicated college student its too much for a normal person. But it is doable.

8. What is one thing that has helped you manage your time the most and not let your grades slip while working full time?

Time management is an important part of my life. I have been working with my impact manager on how I am using my time and also what I can do to benefit my life and school. 

It’s been a balancing act because I also have to go to the chiropractor from a serious car accident that I was in the day before City Year started. I have my iPhone that has a calendar filled with my responsibilities and I make sure that I check it daily/weekly to make sure I don’t miss any due dates for school or City Year.

9. What advice do you have to a reader who would like to apply for City Year?

Read into the organization. Stay on top of deadlines if you are serious about applying. Look into other cites in America if you are looking for different scenery as well. 

Something I wish I did was travel to a different state like some of my team mates but I’m happy to be helping my home state. If you have questions I’m willing to answer via email: [email protected]

10. What do you hope to do after you graduate as a career?

I want to be a psychologist and have my own private family practice. I want to work with children and married couples incorporating art and music for therapeutical treatment.

Learn more about City Year at or jump right here to apply!

How to make it in LA: First Job Profile of Pivot Producer

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile features how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today, as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

From my favorite movie, The Help, to my favorite documentary, Waiting for Superman, I’m a huge fan of the work of Participant Media. They use media to tell a story and create awareness that can change the world. And since they’re launching a new network just for millennials called Pivot, I thought it’d be great to learn some career tips from the new network’s senior producer, Adam:

First Job Profile: Adam Sumner, Senior Producer of Pivot at Participant Media 

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

My first job out of college was working for a commercial producer in Charleston, SC. I got the job through my video production teacher. 

I was eager to get into the business and sought the first place that might help me, and I guess I got lucky in that my first avenue opened for me. We produced and edited mainly regional commercials, but it was a great first step in the right direction.  

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job? 

I think you have to be eager to learn. You need to bring some practical knowledge with you, but don’t act like you know everything, especially in this business. 

There are ways to say things and set etiquette that can only be taught by watching seasoned veterans. The most important thing I learned was listening and watching, but also being eager to act and help. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

I managed to use my previous experience as an assistant producer to get on the documentary crew for the Bonnaroo music festival. I was very persistent to get that job and I think having that little bit of experience helped me land the gig. 

This job would change my life forever and still stands as one of the most incredible events in my life. Everyone on the crew was from New York or LA, and they’d say “where do you live in LA?” … and I’d respond, “I’m from South Carolina.”

I was a little bit out of place you might say, but again I was ready to listen and learn. I made some incredible friends and lasting relationships and from there I got the courage to make the move to LA and give this a real shot. I had nothing to lose. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

As I said above, you have nothing to lose. If you are young and free from serious attachments, shoot for the moon. Go for it. You can always move back in your parents basement. 

You also need to build on personal relationships. Searching the internet for job postings is like a shot in the dark. It really is about who you know – hit the streets, really get eager and annoying for what you really want.


I second all of that!  Great advice – thank you Adam!

How to use what you learn in your first job to create your own

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile will feature how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today (that they love, by the way), as well as their advice to help you do the same.
First Job Profile: Douglas Brown, Founder of CDB Productions
I met Douglas during my first job out of college. I was working for a community college and Douglas was shooting one of our TV commercials (that I happened to be in.) 

It was my first time on TV and I was pretty nervous – Douglas made me feel at ease and was truly the person who gave me confidence to do all the things I do on video now. He’s an awesome guy who’s created his own successful production company with a client list that includes organizations like 
ABC Television, Discover Channel, Disney Channel, ESPN, and MTV Network.

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it?

My first job out of college was as a television news Videographer/Editor at WOWK-TV News. During my college years, I worked part-time for WOWK as a way to pay for my college education. 

Like many college students, it was necessary for me to work during my college years. Unlike many students today, I was able to secure a job within my field as a Freshman in college. This experience proved invaluable to my future success in the television productions industry.

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?

I learned so much from working for WOWK-TV, not just how to technically handle my job, but, more importantly, how to deal with responsibility. 

I would say the most important thing I learned was how to professionally deal with colleagues, co-workers and management to become a useful team member. Working within a team is a skill that is often overlooked and becoming a useful team member is an asset that will last throughout your professional career.

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today?

My first job taught me the “business” of television production. I was expected to technically execute my job, therefore I needed to work hard and stay current with all the ever changing industry trends, however I quickly learned the business side as well. Soon I was able to leverage my skill set to start a production company.

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college?

My advice is to find something you love, first and foremost, and “do it”! In my case, I loved photography. Photography led to a job as a television news Videographer. Nobody taught me photography, I learned on my own because I loved taking photos and working in the darkroom. I was confident in my abilities as a photographer which allowed me the self-confidence to secure my first job.
Thanks Douglas!

How to turn an internship into a full-time job (Career Advice from a Columnist)

Adena Andrews, recently a columnist for ESPN, is a new writer for, and is one of only four black female sports columnists in the nation. To break barriers in any industry, you have to have grit and you have to know how to hustle. Adena once heard a basketball player call this unique quality, “grustle,” and the term has stuck with her and embodies everything she has done to achieve success. 

She recently shared some of those secrets with me, and they are things every college student should consider when going from college to career. 

First of all, tell me more about grustle? How do you define it? It really is an X factor. You either have it or you don’t. I think everyone has it for something in life. You may have majored in business but your grustle may be in fashion. I think it’s important for students to follow what gives them grustle.

How did you figure out you wanted to work in journalism?
My high school had a broadcast Journalism course and I pounced on that. I told myself, I think I want to do this for a living, because it never seemed like work. So I decided that was what I wanted to major in. I was an athlete my entire life (e.g. swimming), and sports seemed like a great topic to write about. So I started writing about swimming.

How did you take your love of a class to a career?
I majored in journalism at USC. And then I started going to out into the community saying I was a sports writer and essentially telling them “I’ll do anything you want for free…” and I was able to start writing and getting even more clips, covering high school games and even Lakers games. I like to say, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.” If you don’t tell people what you want to do, there’s no way they can give you what you want. It was hard to be a writer, and I thought it was too lofty of a goal as a college graduate. But I kept telling people, and within two weeks of graduation I was an intern at ESPN magazine.

I encourage students to join professional associations. As a student I joined the National Association of Black Journalists, and that’s how I got my gig at ESPN. I told someone there, my mentor, that I wanted to work for ESPN. He talked to somebody, and he talked to somebody, and they made it happen. But of course I had to be ready! I had clips and I was prepared. I was scared to tell people what I wanted to do, but I’m a big proponent of telling people what I want. It makes things happen. 

How did you turn your internship into a full-time career?
Don’t front. If you go places as an intern do not sit there at dinners with folks and go to networking events and pretend you work for ESPN full time. Be sure to say you are just an intern, so the people you meet during your internship will know that you still need a job after the internship ends. I never portrayed something I wasn’t.

So when ESPN sent me out to cover the NBA transition camp program, I met someone from the NBA there; I just said hey this is what I’m trying to do with my future, can you help me. A job opened up on and that person was able to help me. Use your internship as a networking opportunity!

Any final advice for students trying to figure out what to do with their lives and how to get there? Find out what you have grustle for, what you’d stay up till 3am to do, or what you’d do in your free time. Also, don’t worry too much about it, because our generation will have at least four careers over our lifetime. What you decide now may not be what you retire as, not like our parents. Your life is still ahead of you. 

Thank you so much Adena! You can check out Adena’s ESPN archives and follow her on Twitter