Reflecting on Strive’s First Cohort

Categories: Advocacy, Blog

by Brigitte Jean-Louis, Director of Advocacy

The snacks were put out, my screen was shared, and I had our brand-new student laptops set up. That Monday morning I greeted each student as they walked through the door and led them into the conference room at YWCA Princeton. Once all seven arrived, our Strive journey began. Our first few classes were quiet, the other students were timid with the curriculum and each other, but how quickly that changed!

Through generous grant funding we were able to provide our participants with not only the tools needed to succeed in our class, but for the future as well! In addition to the technology and curriculum provided by Google and YWCA USA, we were able to give our students free annual MasterClass subscriptions and budgeting software You Need a Budget. Did I mention that the entire class is FREE? In our ten weeks together, we covered the entire Google suite spending an entire week on Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and file storage through Google Drive. We discussed proper resume and cover letter writing, completed mock interviews, worked on our public speaking skills, and even took new headshots for our LinkedIn profiles! While all of these items were on our syllabus, what I was not prepared for was all of the learning that happened because of the participants.

My favorite lessons and resources were the ones that the participants shared with one another. One participant leaning over to show their neighbor what I was demonstrating, another adding their own tips for finding a job on LinkedIn, or even sharing their passion for music with a performance! By the end of our time together, a quick “How did your son do this semester?” or “Did you watch the soccer game last night?” sounded like conversations between friends.

One participant told me “This was fun and informative. Just what I needed!” while another said “I enjoyed every class very much, and learned many new things.”

Brigitte, pictured in the front on the right with her students after taking professional headshots.

I will forever be grateful that our first ever Strive cohort allowed themselves to be open and trusted me to teach them something new. I look forward to endorsing their new skills on LinkedIn, keeping up via email, and even serving as a reference for them on future job applications. The application for the next cohort of YW Strive is open and I am excited to replicate the success of the first. Strive is just the introduction to YWCA Princeton’s workforce development programming, so be sure to check back often for more updates! YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. Through classes like YW Strive we are getting more women and minorities in the workforce and I cannot wait for the next cohort to begin!