Kaya Jones, CLA '20, knows a thing or two about blazing a path. As a senior, the Journalism and Political Science major was one-third of Temple University's first-ever all-female student government leadership team.
But even pioneers need a helping hand from time to time. So when Jones was offered the chance to acquire a mentor just a few months after she graduated, she jumped at the opportunity. A few months later, she would find herself jumping into her mentor's former job.
It all began in July when Jones was working in her first post-graduation job as a project assistant for a nonprofit funded by the Department of Justice. Concerned about the unique challenges COVID-19 had brought to the job market, Political Science Chair Robin Kolodny reached out to students and alumni to gauge interest in mentorship opportunities. When Jones enthusiastically replied, Dr. Kolodny and Program Coordinator Erin Dwyer saw to it that their former student was paired with a mentor who was best suited for guiding Jones along.
"They made sure students got somebody that would add value to their life," recalls Jones, "so I was connected with Ian Martin."
A Temple alumnus himself and a former Political Science minor, Martin, FOX '15, was living in New York and working for Brunswick Group as an executive consultant. After some Zoom calls and emails spent getting to know Jones and understanding her goals, Martin connected her with a recruiter who wasn't hiring right that moment but wanted to stay in touch with her.
"One day, she emailed me and asked me to apply to an internship," says Jones. "I did. Then the rest was history. But it was an internship, so it was three months of interning, and then I got promoted to be an executive after those three months.
"And that's what I'm doing now. It's really interesting, and it's very rewarding and fun to work with a lot of high-profile brands and notable clients."
In that role, the same one her mentor occupied before accepting a new offer last year, Jones does behind-the-scenes strategic advisory work out of Brunswick Group's D.C. office while working remotely from her first apartment back here in Philadelphia.
"you have to take advantage of every resource you have"
Some of the work Jones is doing is a direct continuation of what she learned at the College of Liberal Arts as a Political Science major. Who knew a liberal arts education could be so useful in the real world? Not Jones, who admits that while she was in Dr. Kolodny's classroom learning about money in politics she found herself questioning if she would ever have use for said knowledge.
"But I actually do," says an enlightened Jones. "The course was about PACs, political contributions and political campaigns.
"Well, a corporation came to Brunswick and wanted to refine their PAC. After the January 6 riots, there was a lot of media attention around PAC giving and headlines about what corporations were doing in response to the storming of the Capitol. So, I was able to do some research and media work around that."
Today, Jones credits her entire liberal arts education along with her student government experience and what she calls her curious nature for helping propel her into that job. Oh, and there's also the manner of that mentorship. Maybe such a relationship could help other students, too?
"I highly recommend it," says Jones. "Especially in the times that we're in. I think leaning on your network and taking time to build a relationship with someone and getting to know their lived experience can always be beneficial. And especially with how diligent the matching and pairing process was. To be successful, you have to take advantage of every resource you have."