On April 25th, a selected set of Black Young Professionals’ members took time of out of their busy work day to travel into downtown Detroit. There, on Fort Street in the heart of the city, five young professionals addressed Detroit Promise Scholars on various topics around career selection, internships, and making it through the rigors of school. Students present represented a wide array of career interests, from Poetry and Music, to Psychiatry and Law.

Students had busy schedules to keep up with so many came for as long as was practical for them then left, eventually being replaced by more students who were able to make it for a different part of the discussion. Overall, we were able to touch over twenty of the scholars, some of which traveled from other Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) campuses to hear the discussion. They represented various ethnic backgrounds and call different areas of the metro area their home.

After a thorough panel discussion powered by insights from member’s own histories, struggles, and achievements, and giving answers to many of the pre-submitted questions from the students. An open Q&A was had for the students to ask follow-up questions. Following that the formality ended and students approached each member to ask questions directly and get personal advice on specific situations.

Some of the questions our members were able to address for the students:

  • How much value is there in internships?
  • What are some equally valuable alternatives to Internships (e.g. Research, Capstone Projects etc.)?
  • Do you have tips about communication during the application and interview process?
  • Did you join any professional networking organizations (e.g. NSBE, NMA, NABJ etc.), and if so how influential was the organization in helping you reach your career goals?
  • How often do you attend networking events, and how have you benefited from them?
  • In College/University, how did you stay focused on your studies while still maintaining a social life?  
  • What are some current developments that could affect future career opportunities available to graduates in your field?

.. and many more.

So, what’s makes these students so special?

Three things:

  1. Detroit Promise Scholars are all graduates of Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD, formerly known as DPS). DPSCD is the local Detroit city school district servicing the majority of students in Detroit (over 47,000). The district has been, and is still, going through some of the roughest financial troubles the nation has seen. The district’s students also have had some of the worst reading and math test scores among big cities in the nation, while trying to learn in school buildings requiring major maintenance attention. Arguably, some of the students who may need additional encouragement, information on career selection, and college rigours are graduates from DPS.
  2. These students in particular are all students at Wayne County Community College District (WCCD). Community college is a great entry way into higher education for many students who may not have funds to pay for 4-year universities or students who are in need of more supportive instructors in areas like math and reading. These students are also wise in selecting this less-costly route to meet the basic prerequisites for most major fields of study without actually having determined exactly what they want to into. Most college credits earned at WCCCD and other community colleges can be transferred to 4-year universities later. We believe community college students tend to more exploratory at times and looking for advising on appropriate career direction.
  3. Most of these students are Detroit natives or at least live in the city, which is the geographical focus area of civic engagement for our organization. We want to make the most impact here in Detroit.

We would like to send special thanks to Jaime Zavier for allowing us this opportunity, as well as Jesse Cole of the Detroit Promise program for supporting our engagement with the students. With strong positive post-activity feedback from the students, we look forward for future opportunities like this.

To learn more about the Detroit Promise Scholarship program, please visit these pages:

To learn more about WCCCD, please visit their website here.

Black Young Professionals is building a database of our members who are interested in mentorship and giving back to students and youth. They are all interviewed and screened on their background and current affairs. They are coached before appeared made on behalf of the organization. They will serve as the manpower in our mentorship engagement activities. If you’d like us to speak to your students or know of an opportunity we should consider, please contact us.