Author: Aisha Sowe
Going into college is the start of venturing out into adulthood. We go through new experiences, tough challenges, and most importantly, we discover more about ourselves and who we are. This is an important time to figure out where do we see ourselves in the future and what we would like to become. There are times that we need guidance to help us with our educational goals and career paths. But with this organization, you can get all the help you need to get through your time at Montgomery College.
Future Link is an independent organization that connects Montgomery College students who are first generation to their career pathways and closes the opportunity divide for students by providing them with extra skills, tools, resources, and knowledge so they can be self-sufficient individuals. This organization was founded by Executive Director (and Co-Founder) Mindi Jacobson along with two of her business colleagues. They have been providing resources for young adults since May of 2008.
“[Future Link’s] goal is to support students long-term to help them find a suitable pathway for them to become successful and achieve their education and career goals,” Jacobson said. There are two phases that students will go through in the program before achieving self-sufficiency, the ultimate goal. The first phase is the 15-week seminar that students attend weekly to develop their professional skills. The seminar includes career exploration, resume development, job interviewing practice, financial literacy, growth mindset exercises and even a scavenger hunt!
Once Future Link students graduate from the seminar and continue into the second phase, they can access mentorships, paid internships, academic and career guidance, and scholarships. Future Link also connects students with professionals from their career interests through networking events. Lastly, the final phase is for students to become self-sufficient individuals.
Facilitator and mentor Darlene Douglas found out about Future Link through a documentary on PBS called American Graduate. The staff at Future Link had asked her if she was interested in becoming a facilitator and she has been a part of this program for two years, first as a mentor and now as a facilitator. “What I loved about Future Link is how organized the program is,” Douglas said. “And seeing the students [start Future Link] one way and leaving [the seminar] another way,”
Future Link student Barbara Martinez found out about this program from one of her cousins who was also a Future Link student. She joined this program because of the mentorship and internship opportunities that they have. “I feel like [Future Link] is very beneficial for people like me, who are first generation that don’t know about doing things such as resumes and financial literacy,” Martinez said.
Future Link works with first-generation students who are 18-25 years old and have less than 30 credits. Students can join Future Link at www.futurelinkmd.org through their rolling application. The seminars follow the college calendar and they run seminars during the fall (September start) and spring (January start) semesters. Within 48 hours of applying, a Future Link staff member will call for a phone screen (20 to 30 minutes) to see if the student is eligible to join the program.
“[Future Link] wants students to find their career path, envision themselves as successful professionals and feel that they’re supported along the way. We want students to know their strengths, understand how to ask for help, and gather all the information they need to make informed decisions so that they can be successful,” Jacobson added.
“Take [Future Link] seriously and don’t be scared about the outcome and interact. Make [Future Link] worth your while and be the best you can,” Martinez added