In 2013, the GreenLight Fund supported the launch of Year Up Professional Training Corps in Philadelphia. Year Up provides urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. In Philadelphia, Year Up has partnered with Peirce College and multiple corporate partners to serve nearly 150 young people to date. In celebration of the graduation of Year Up’s third cohort on July 14, 2015, James Campbell, GreenLight Philadelphia’s Undergraduate Fellow, caught up with Andre Brown (Year Up Philadelphia ’14) to learn about life – and work – one year after his graduation.
“Year Up facilitated my desire to pursue an education while simultaneously providing access to work experience in corporate America.”
This quote from Andre Brown, a graduate of Year Up Philadelphia’s first cohort, succinctly captures the immense positive impact the program has on the lives of its students. After a brief stint at Wesley College, Andre returned to his hometown of Philadelphia with a desireto break into the corporate world but found his immediate opportunities lacking. Fortunately, a serendipitous family connection led Andre to Year Up Philadelphia, which had the potential to open doors that would help him pursue his career aspirations:
“Daniel Holland, Year Up Philadelphia’s Associate Director of Corporate Sales and Partner Relations, has a cousin who worked with my mother and felt like Year Up would be a great opportunity for me because I had recently returned to Philadelphia and was looking for work in the community. He sent me an email [with information about the program], I signed up, and I’ve been there ever since.”
When asked about Year Up Philadelphia’s model – which connects young adults to a college degree program at Peirce College and professional internships with corporate partners like Comcast, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase – Andre emphatically endorsed the program’s commitment to finding the perfect match for both student and employer:
“Year Up does a great job of evaluating your entire learning development process over the first 6 months and is adept at subsequently identifying which internship would be the best fit for you personally. For me, I was fortunate enough to know that I wanted to be at JP Morgan from Day 1. [Year Up] saw that I was motivated and that I could thrive in a [corporate] environment, so my placement was relatively straight forward. Having said that, the program definitely puts you in the best situation to display your interests and realize your talents.”
At JP Morgan Chase—a prominent corporate partner of Year Up—Andre serves as a product manager. He has found the internship to be very rewarding, challenging (in a good way), and perhaps most importantly, a warm and nurturing environment: “[Working at JP Morgan Chase] for the past two years has been great; I was welcomed with open arms. The managers I’ve had so far have been very encouraging and the work environment is very familial—I could not ask for a better work environment.”
On top of the encouragement he receives from his managers, Andre also enjoys a supportive relationship with his fellow interns: “We are engaged. We all have separate lives at [JP Morgan Chase] but we stay in contact and provide feedback whenever one needs it.”
The program, however, also has its challenges. According to Andre, “Becoming acclimated to a 40-hour work week while maintaining a class schedule at Peirce College was definitely an adjustment I had to make. Learning how to wake up and get to work on time every day, while seemingly trivial, took time nonetheless. However, I am happy to say that I now have the ability to consistently manage my responsibilities.”
By forging the initial relationship between Andre and JP Morgan Chase, Year Up has put Andre on track to achieve both his short and long-term goals, which are to eventually make the transition from intern to full-time employee and to obtain his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management by age 24.
Andre remains active in the Year Up community through his role as Head of the Alumni Network where he keeps fellow alums connected with valuable information. This position allows Andre to cultivate his leadership and management capabilities while providing a valuable service for Year Up.
Andre’s family could not be more proud of his efforts to continue his education and build a successful career. Here at GreenLight, we share a similar enthusiasm for Andre’s tremendous growth and are excited to watch him pursue his dreams!