Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Career Panel Reflection from Third Year Usher, Antonio Rodriguez

Note from the editor: Each season the New Victory Usher Corps participates in several career panels. Based on suggestions from the ushers, a panel of professionals are gathered by staff and the New Vic Council in order to answer questions and network with the students in our Usher Corps program. 

By Antonio Rodriguez, Third Year Usher

I always get excited when I can attend one of the career panels that is offered to me and my fellow ushers because there is always such potential to learn, regardless of what topic the panel is covering. The most recent panel that I attended had representatives from different business fields, and I took away much more insight and information from these successful individuals than I had expected.

First, there was Mr. Julio Peterson, the Vice President of Real Estate for The Shubert Organization. Even though I loved his energy, at first I felt disconnected from his talk because he works in a field in which I thought I had no interest. But his story and determination is what helped me realize that I could learn from what he has accomplished, even if his work is in a field I don’t see myself in right now. Mr. Peterson came from a similar background as me, being a Hispanic boy in a neighborhood that did not have the best reputation. He did not let that life consume the potential he saw in himself. He talked about how he took all the negatives around him and turned them into positives in his life. He described how his friends and family motivate him to always be better. It was nice to relate to a complete stranger and compare my situation to where he stood at certain points of his life. His presence at the panel was truly inspiring.

Next to him was Lila Sharif, Head of International Marketing and Sales at Fathi Tre Cashmere, who truly had a long path of obstacles before she got to where she is today. She works in fashion and even though I am intrigued by fashion and its role in our society, I never saw myself working in that industry. But when she spoke, she talked about how she originally did not see herself working for the family fashion business, and yet there she was, finding success. She was very humble, saying that she does not consider herself to be too successful because she sees the opportunities that exist to achieve so much more. Her advice showed me that I should never be satisfied with the heights that I can reach because I can always be reaching for the next thing, continuing to learn and work hard. She also illustrated her personal struggles and obstacles, only furthering the idea that these ups and downs make success that much sweeter.

The last panelist was Mr. Ken Landis, Owner of Landis Capital and Co-founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, who is a very business-oriented and bright man, in my eyes. I was fascinated by how he described the start of his own cosmetics business. His story began with him and his wife just sitting down in the kitchen. They had an idea and a goal, and they just started planning. That only proves to me that I can achieve ANYTHING if I really put my mind to it, and start at step one. Some things that I took away from listening to him were that I should always have a plan, a smart plan, if I really want to do something. Afterward, I reflected about some things I want to do with my life, like have my own afterschool program, and I realized that I don’t have the business side of my dream quite figured out just yet. I learned that I have to consider taking a business class or two so I can mold my dream into what I really want it to be.

This career panel was definitely insightful, even though it pulled from industries and fields that I’ve never really been interested in personally. After that day, I sat down and started planning out things for my future. I plan on taking a business class within the next year of college. I also thought about how I want to try to have a book series of some sort published, which will hopefully help fund my afterschool program. I appreciate these professionals taking the time to speak with young people like me. It helps me to remember that hard work, planning and networking with smart people can really turn any goal into a reality. I feel a new surge of motivation to really start getting my hands dirty in pursuing my own dreams!

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