8 years ago, Commonpoint Queens gave a 15-year-old girl a chance. As of December 2021, I was given the opportunity to work for one of the largest financial firms in NYC. As the firstborn, first-generation, only daughter of a Bangladeshi household, born and raised in NYC, I’ve had a lot of pressure on my shoulders, grew up too fast, and navigated through things on my own into adulthood. But first, let’s go back to 8 years ago.
Through Commonpoint Queens’ Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), I landed my first job as a camp counselor. After the summer, I was offered an afterschool counselor role at Central Queens. For me, this was a big deal. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, we were low income and my mom worked 60 hours a week on minimum wage. Because of my job, I was able to pay for all my senior dues, college applications, and even help my mom with expenses.
The following summer, I learned about Ladders for Leaders (L4L) and participated every year until I was officially too old to qualify (22). The workshops for L4L were where my first resumes, elevator pitches, and interview skills were perfected. In the process, I met Albina. She guided me through the applications, the interview process, supported me before and during the internships, and always helped me whenever I needed it. I went from working in the admissions department of a private college to a NY Law School, to the State Cruises for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island guest services, to work for the League of Women Voters NYC— that gave me the opportunity to be on live TV for the closing bell at The New York Stock Exchange! Albina always told me every position will teach you skills that you can transfer to the next, and she was absolutely right.
It wasn’t until my last year at Queens College, and the middle of the pandemic, when Albina emailed me about an opportunity for Ponce Bank as a Universal Banker. After several years of work-readiness workshops and interview practices, I aced the interview and got my first “grown-up” job. I am the professional individual I am today because of Commonpoint Queens; every role I was given up until that moment was thanks to the guidance of the generous mentors there.
A few months back, Ponce Bank and Commonpoint Queens collaborated to provide financial literacy workshops for 16- to 24-yearolds. I volunteered immediately when it was brought to my attention. That feeling of providing financial literacy workshops is one that I will remember forever. I was one of those kids that needed financial education and here I am, a 23-year-old college graduate, giving back to the place that has changed my life.
As I start my career, I want to say to 15-year-old Aseah and all those reading to be proud of your journey!