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My Ampersand Experience & Program Takeaways

A Previous Professional

Hello, my name is Quinn Rayner. I was unsure of this program at first, I even passed up the opportunity to be in Ampersand’s first session, but I am eternally grateful that I gave this another shot. Allow me to explain, but first, a little about me.

I was a recent college grad with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my sociology degree and no experience working in my entire life. No summer jobs, no internships prior to this program, no knowledge working in an occupation, nothing; not even at a fastfood place. I had been looking for a job for roughly 6 months when I saw Ampersand’s first session online. I decided to pass it up thinking that I didn’t need the help and didn’t think that the program was going to help all that much. Fast forward another 6 months; I still don’t have a job. I’m getting increasingly more desperate and depressed, thinking I will never find a job, when I see the Ampersand posting again!

It was a miracle to be sure, because this experience is life changing. I was looking for a job for a year with no success and already only two weeks out of this program I know that I’m in a better place in terms of my career.

Personality Assessments

The first thing we did in this program was take a series of personality assessments.

  • When I got this report back, I also get in depth analysis on what my personality type means and how that relates to not only how I work, how I work best, and job families that others that have my type are in, but also challenges my personality type faces while in the workplace and strategies on how to help overcome them.
  • In hindsight this assessment was one of the most important things that I did during this program. It’s a really simple assessment that asks your interests and gives you general occupational themes and specific areas of interest based on the things you enjoy. For me, someone who didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree, having a list of around 20-25 jobs based on the things I already enjoy doing and the physical things that I like to do that make up my occupational themes, was invaluable.
  • Throughout all of this, the Ampersand team was there to help us understand what these assessments mean and how that relates to us the entire time.

The Internships

This consisted of what I was actively doing for 15 hours a week for 3 months. All placements were based on our personality assessments, career trajectory and schedule availability and were specifically designed for us. This was where I was the most nervous. As mentioned previously, I had never worked in a professional manner: I didn’t know what it was like. I was very happy to find out that my managers didn’t just leave me to my devices. Every business partner that joins Ampersand believes in the same premise that Ampersand does: to help young professionals. Before each internship, I went over what I was going to be doing and how to do it. My managers were there to help me every step of the way and they were all so kind. My managers were there to help me grow, they wanted to see that, they wanted to see my development, and I am so thankful to each and every one of them.

As for what I did; I did things ranging from marketing research to social media, HR to copywriting, data analysis to brand development. There were people in the same cohort who did some of these things and then there were people in my group that did none of these things. This experience really was tailored to each Professional and I was very happy with the work that I did, and the things that I accomplished.

Curriculum and Mentorship

Coming away from this experience I have over 60 pages of notes on a variety of topics based on the curriculum, and I was better for every single session that we had. I did things that made me uncomfortable, I learned some hard truths about myself, but every single experience was instrumental in my growth not just as a professional, but as a person. I learned things that I will take with me for my entire life. The sheer variety of topics, the guest lectures, everything in the curriculum is set up to help us, the group of professionals, succeed in the future, with whatever we end up doing.

The one-on-one mentorship is extremely helpful. Not only did my mentor and I go over what I learned, but all of its practical application: how what I learned connected to reality. The mentors made sure I was up to date on the curriculum and are there to be sounding boards. They’re there to check in with us and make sure we don’t have any questions about the material or the assignments, but also to be a lifeline in our internships. Any problems I had or if I was not sure how to approach my manager with something, the mentors were there to help. The mentorship was an invaluable resource that really helped with my career development.

My Takeaways

  • Confidence. I now know what it’s like to work and the feeling of working, I’ve never experienced this before not even in school. I come away from this experience with the knowledge that I can work, that I can get hired, that I can succeed in my career, because I’ve already done it before, and I have a plan for the future to do so. I’ve gained so much confidence in not only my abilities, but also in myself, which is more invaluable than anything.
  • Job Search: As mentioned previously, I was looking for a job for a year with absolutely no success. I’ve barely been out of this program two weeks and I have two interviews lined up. That’s two more than the entirety of my year of searching without this knowledge. These people are professionals, and they know what they are talking about, and by them offering up their knowledge, you too can become a professional just like them.
  • A Career Path: I graduated college unsure of what I wanted to do. There were so many options and none of them sounded appealing. In fact, the types of jobs I’m looking for now, had nothing to do with what I learned in college. I now know what I want to do in life, and that has eased so many of my worries. I can’t begin to describe how relieved I feel.
  • My Future: In this program you learn much more than job skills, they teach you life skills and then relate them to employment/occupation. They try to help you see your own foundation so that you can start building from there. Really pay attention to these strategies they give, the tools they provide you with.
  • My Work Ethic: I now know how I work best, I know how I work with others, I know how to work with a manager, and I know how I can improve upon situations where I’m not working at my best. Knowing how you work can help guide you from hating what you do to enjoying your life and I’m excited to put this work into practice.

Overall, Ampersand is one of the best experiences that I had in my entire life. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of headspace I’d be in if I didn’t have these experiences, the knowledge that I gained, or the resources I now have at my disposal because of this program. This experience changed my life. I used to dread what the future had in store, but now I look forward to what comes next tomorrow.