Paying it Forward

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Even while in school, Eugene Lang College alumna Jahmila Joseph (’06) lost no time in getting a head start on her career. What started as an internship with the Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy in her sophomore year turned into a full-time job as an event coordinator, with Joseph juggling a full course load to finish her degree. “I used all my vacation days to go to class,” recalls Joseph. “Once I graduated, I was so excited to finally get those back!”

The Conservancy was only a starting point. From connections she made there, Joseph went on to work for Brooklyn Borough President Carolyn Greer, co-founded Fresh Squeezed, her own events company, brushed up on her fundraising skills as a project manager for former Senator Carl Andrews, then lobbied on behalf of labor unions in public education. Now, as the deputy chief of staff for New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Joseph readily admits surprise at her jam-packed career path. “I always assumed I’d be working more in the social sector, not in politics.” However, she’s quick to add,  “It’s been such a great and natural transition.”

Joseph, who joined the alumni board to help future graduates, recalls selecting Lang College for its seminar teaching style. “I just remember thinking that I wanted the engaged learning experience, and I’ve taken that style with me since.” Throughout her career, Joseph says she has witnessed the success of a collaborative approach to projects, management, and even the job market. The style is representative of the advice she has for fellow New Schoolers: “Never stop expanding your network and using the network you already have,” she said. “Reach out to people, be a go-getter, and don’t be shy about asking for help.”

It’s advice recent New School for Social Research graduate Alex Gleason had already jumped on. Gleason, who just finished his MA in economics, first met Joseph at a Lang event back in the spring of 2012, when he was still an undergraduate there. After hearing about his interest in labor economics, Joseph mentioned a potential helpful contact, and come summer, the newly-graduated Gleason had scored an internship with the NYC Central Labor Council that would eventually lead to a permanent position. Now armed with a master’s degree, he starts on Monday as a policy analyst.

Considering all this, then, it’s not surprising that Gleason whole-heartedly supports Joseph’s advice on using networks. “I don’t only believe in that,” he said, “but I practice it.” He recently connected a fellow peer with one of his own contacts, which resulted in an internship. He’s got his own advice for those coming up behind him, as well. “Don’t let the job market decide that classes you take or the major you choose,” he suggests. “Find the courses that will enrich your life, where you’ll actually learn skills that will help you become a more polished person.” Oh, and he had to sneak in his own line about networks: “You probably already know someone doing what you want to do. Reach out to them.”