This past Saturday, about 170 people, youth and adults, gathered to attend this year’s U-Beyond conference- a 5 hour event designed to introduce and connect young adults to mentors of careers they take interest in.
The event hosted a wide range of speakers including Carol Naughton and Jennifer Howard and also held workshops that allowed young adults to understand and learn from the experiences of mentors in different fields such as digital technology and journalism.
The event opened with a heartwarming and inspirational talk given by Carol Naughton on the progress she’s made alongside the East Lake Foundation to revitalize the East Lake community of Atlanta and on mixed income housing. She also spoke of how she hopes to continue transforming neighborhoods across the nation to provide families of varying incomes with equal opportunities by transforming students’ surroundings and making the environment in which they learn and grow one that propels them forward. “It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that we are educating everyone in our country to be successful in a knowledge based economy and prepare them for jobs that don’t even exist today”
The uplifting presentation was then followed by the key part of the event -the networking portion- in which students with similar career interests gathered at tables to discuss their questions, concerns, and pathways with mentors who specialize in that specific field, and connect with them should they need their advice or guidance in the future.
The different fields included business and entrepreneurship, journalism, healthcare, and a number of others. Students were not limited to one table and were able to travel to others and explore other career paths they may pursue. Personally, I found this activity to be the most constructive, as I enjoyed connecting with others who shared an interest in journalism, and was able to ask Slma Shelbayah, a CNN journalist, questions directly about how to pursue my passion for writing and become involved in internships. Students were not limited to one table and were able to travel to others and explore other career paths they may pursue.
Towards the second half of the event, attendees visited different workshops of their choice, such as “Do you have the GRIT?” by Moe Mustafa, “Finding a Career Path in Technology” by Jewel Burks, “Navigating Tough Conversations” by Slma Shelbayah, and “Building Rewarding Careers” by Yousuf Khalifah.
The 2018 U-Beyond conference was one that had something to offer to everyone, whether they simply came to connect with others of similar interests, or to gain knowledge and mentorship for a career path they are already pursuing. The event was one that I look forward to attending again in the future, and hope to see many others take part in.