Thursday, March 22, 2018

Oasis For Girls Career Night

Last week I got to go down to the Women's Building and have the honor of being a mentor at one of Oasis for Girls' Career Nights. Rather than try to paraphrase what Oasis is and what they do, here is their own mission statement from their site:

Oasis For Girls partners with young women of color aged 14-18 from under-resourced communities in San Francisco to cultivate the skills, knowledge, and confidence to discover their dreams and build strong futures, redefining their communities in their wake. Our Springboard Series of programs empowers girls to pave paths to successful academic and career goals; understand social justice issues and advocate for change in their communities; and develop confidence, advocacy, and self-care tools for healthy growth through high school and college, the workplace, and beyond.
At Oasis, we start with a baseline of the validity and value of girls’ individual experiences, and support them in developing the tools they already have. Oasis’ three programs—RISE Life SkillsCREATE Arts Education, and ENVISION Career Exploration—each focus on key tenets of holistic girls’ development.

At a time that falls in the middle of each of those three programs, they host a Career Night where professional women from various fields come and mix and mingle and chat with the girls directly, one on one, about our careers and how we arrived at them, yes, but also about the girl's own interests and dreams, questions they have about college, adult life, and so on.

I realized several things throughout the evening - the first was how passionate and focused and amazing these girls were (way more so than I remember being as a teenager). And the second was that while we were indded there to impart information about career paths and possibilities, we were also there to help the girls practice a particular key social skill. If you call it "small talk" it sounds diminished and unimportant (and, not at all coincidentally, feminine) whereas if you call it "networking" it sounds horribly cynical and corporate (and, not coincidentally, macho). Instead, let's call it what it is: the fine art of conversation.


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