What is Career Exploration? Read one such story of inspiration from UHM Foundation intern Celetre Jones, and how the UHM Foundation seeks to replicate this experience for others.
Written by Celetre' Jones
As a third-year student attending Kent State University, I was in search of an upper-division course for my Public Relations major. I looked around and kept seeing flyers all over the Journalism & Mass Communication building. The flyers promoted a Climate Justice Activism course taught by Professor Stephanie Smith. I enrolled in the class, in all honesty, thinking “this should be an easy A.”I did not realize, at the time, that this course would open my eyes tremendously and change my life forever.
The Climate Justice Activism course focused on the issue of global warming, but framed it as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is solely environmental or physical in nature. As a class, we studied and evaluated how global warming occurrences were handled by governments in the world. These occurrences often led to a systematic disadvantage of innocent civilians. The occurrences ranged from redlining in low-income cities, exploitation of civilians in underdeveloped nations, and the mishandling of natural disaster recovery efforts.
The class was assigned a client that helps fight climate injustice in its community. Our client was the Environmental Health Watch. The students were expected to provide the organization with an original marketing campaign. In learning about the Environmental Health Watch’s mission, we also learned about local issues like the lead crisis in Cleveland, Ohio; through this process a light was lit in me. I was the most passionate I have ever been in my entire life. I wanted to help spread awareness of the true dangers of lead poisoning to my fellow Clevelanders. I remember telling my mother that my younger brother’s attention issues could have potentially been caused by our 1970’s-builthome. I remember searching my Cleveland relatives’ homes in Environmental Health Watch’s Housing Health website to investigate any previous reports of lead in the home. I also distinctly remember calling my mother and telling her lead was in her new home she recently purchased.
Despite my passion for this project, however, my group had many issues throughout the class. We had two students decide to drop the course, causing our team to fall behind and leading to raised tension within the group. Our teacher asked us if we wanted to end our group. I remember getting fiery. I felt my body temperature rise as I opened my mouth to respond. I felt like my passion and work was under attack. I expressed that under no circumstances, would I willingly walk away from the project. It was something that inspired and touched me. I talked with people who were hurting and needed their voices heard. I talked to employees who did not know where to turn next. In this instance, I wanted to help everyone. This campaign meant more than a good grade from my professor. I wanted change for those who were disadvantaged just as the Environmental Health did.
I was drowning in inspiration to help nonprofit organizations like Environmental Health Watch to create powerful campaigns to reach its clients. I believe this came from the fact that this organization was defending my rights while I was unaware, I needed defending. I knew then I wanted to help other Foundations connect to the public through campaigns.
To me, that’s the true purpose of so many nonprofit organizations. Defending those who may not know they need defending. It’s a beautiful and ballsy thing to do every day.
Before attending this class, I wanted to be a Publicist for famous athletes and musicians who would help people have an unforgettable brand. In all honesty, I wanted to be wherever the dollar signs were. This experience, however, taught me there were other aspects which should factor into my decision, like what would make me happy. Without Climate Justice Activism, I would have not known this or had my “AHA” moment. The course was my most career explorative experience I had in my life!
The truth is though....this type of opportunity is not accessible to everyone... opportunities where one is able to view other career options they may not have been made aware of, and ask themselves:
- What is important to me? Does this career path contain things I value?
- Would I be happy doing this work?
- Do I have personal strengths that can be applied to this field?
- Would I enjoy the type of environment this job requires me to be in?
- Would I do this job for free?
- Would it be easy for me to commit to this job’s tasks?
As a Union Home Mortgage Foundation intern, I know this Foundation actively seeks to fund career exploration and readiness programs for those in its community–from those geared towards high school students to opportunities for those facing employment barriers like a past criminal background. The Foundation strategically does this by partnering with nonprofits that have expertise in the career readiness arena. Partnering with the UHM Foundation can help inspire and prepare students like myself to follow a career pathway that makes sense for them and leads to future fulfillment
Click the link below to learn more about some of these programs and see where you can help inspire those around you.