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Insights from a Meritus Mentor

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mona Zhao and learn a little bit about her experiences in working with young scholars at the Meritus Fund. Mona was a past Meritus Scholar, a current Meritus Board member, and also a recruiting professional. It was definitely a triple treat to sit down with her and gain insights from three different perspectives on this challenge!

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Meritus Students Combine Grit and Ambition
Meritus envisions a community in which disadvantaged San Francisco youth have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.  To that end, Meritus empowers low-income youth in the community who possess grit and ambition to complete a college degree and prepare for post-college success through a combination of scholarships, coaching, and career mentorship.”

In addition to providing scholarships, Meritus also has an extensive program and network of individuals that are dedicated to the cultivation of scholars for success in college and beyond. Through, peer mentors, career mentors, career workshops, and paid internships, Meritus scholars are exposed to a wide range of career development opportunities. Mona shared with me some insights on the following.

●You don’t know what you don’t know. Students should understand their strengths and weaknesses instead of applying for everything out there. Can benefit from positioning themselves to stand out.
●Don’t be afraid of networking. Students often defer to online job listings for leads. They need to develop soft skills to network and overcome fears of rejections. Networks are important resources.
●Learn that you shouldn’t let your degree define you.
●Meritus works with companies to provide nearly 70% of Meritus scholars with paid internships
●Students are more committed when internships are paid. Both employers and interns have more at stake
●Industry specific internships solidifies a student’s interest in a certain area.
●Internship experiences broadens views. One liberal arts major didn’t know what to do. Meritus identified his interest in politics and helped him get an internship at city hall.
●Career workshops taught students to develop their personal brands
●Make it so that recruiters won't have to figure you out. Do you homework! Identify what you're looking for in a job.
●Approach recruiters by showing authenticity. Articulate your strengths and state your specific interests.
●Demonstrate potential to recruiters. Build a relationship and let recruiters know that you will be working with them long term.



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