Once a month, Steppingstone Alumni/ Board Members will share insights on their career journey and provide career tips and guidance for Steppingstone Scholars. For this month, Scholars will get a chance to learn more about Jennifer's career journey!

Q: Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What were your post-graduate high school plans?

Hi, I’m Jennifer! I am a Steppingstone Alum from the class of 2001, hailing from the

great Boston neighborhood of Roslindale. Back in high school, I thought I would be a

diplomat or work for the UN. I knew early on that I wanted a job with an international

nexus. Looking back, I think that was because my family emigrated from Haiti and my

upbringing felt very international. My mom speaks limited English and we always ate

Haitian food at home. It instilled in me a curiosity for the world outside of the US.

Q: What has the journey to your current role been like for you?

My journey has been non-linear. I’ve worked in human rights, taught university students in Haiti, started a women’s leadership program, practiced as an attorney, and now I’m in tech policy. Outside of practicing as an attorney, I never imagined that I would have been in any of these roles. The more I progress in my career, the more it dispels this myth that there’s one specific path to achieve the career you desire.

Q: If your plans after graduating high school involved pursuing a college degree, how did your experience or studies while in school prepare you for the roles you have been in and/or are currently in?

I majored in Political Science and International Relations at Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts college outside of Philadelphia. I can’t say that I’ve referenced specific courses in any of my positions, but I do think my college experience deepened my critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity. The beauty of a liberal arts experience is that it teaches you to continually interrogate your surroundings and your learnings.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your current position?

I recently joined Airbnb to manage its privacy and human rights policies. Though I’m still learning the contours of my role, I’m enjoying figuring it out. It’s a new puzzle to solve that is keeping me on my toes and pushing me to think creatively about policy issues dealing with privacy and human rights.

Q: What tips might you have for Scholars hoping to pursue a similar career path that you’ve taken?

I’m a big fan of participating in informational interviews. I find that it’s the best way to

learn about specific roles and the day-to-day responsibilities from someone who actually holds the position.

Q: What tips might you have for Scholars looking to strengthen their resume-building or interview skills?

On resumes, make sure you’re tying the day-to-day responsibilities to the larger

objectives of your job. Even an administrative task has a larger purpose and it’s

important to highlight that. As a paralegal, for example, I was responsible for renaming the electronic files of court documents. It surely wasn’t glamorous but that’s not what I emphasized in my resume. Instead, I highlighted how I created a consistent and simple name-filing system that allowed attorneys to easily identify the desired document among a large set of files. The task was data entry, but the larger purpose was to create an efficient system so the attorneys I worked with could feasibly find their target document.

For interviews, the best advice I’ve ever received was to treat them like a conversation. Ultimately, your interviewer is trying to determine whether they’d like to sit down and have lunch with you. If you’ve made it to the interview stage, they already know you’re at least somewhat qualified. The test now is to see whether they would like working alongside you.

Q: Networking can be hard…how do you recommend Scholars connect with others in the fields they’re interested in and strengthen their relationship-building skills?

I’d probably use the same advice for interviewing. Ultimately, you guys are having a

conversation. Try and enjoy just getting to know someone and focus less on what

happens if the conversation doesn’t go the way you’d like.

Q: What are some questions to ask of your future employers?

My favorite question to ask is, “What are the attributes of a candidate that excels in this role?” Aside from that, I base the rest of my questions on the role specifically or things that the interviewer discusses during the interview.

Q: What advice would you give to Scholars hoping to strengthen their negotiation skills?

I really recommend doing your research on the salary ranges for your role and make sure to ask for the upper limits of that range. They will likely start with a number on the lower range, so if you start with a higher range, they have to work to meet you. I also recommend writing out a script if you’re worried about what to say and how to say it at the moment. I prefer email negotiations, but I’ve had to have the conversation verbally which can be a bit intimidating. I typically write something beforehand so I know exactly what I want to say and I try to be comfortable in that awkward silence that can sometimes ensue. And remember –don’t accept the first number they give you and don’t ever throw out the first number!

Q: Did you attend graduate school? If so, what school did you attend/what degree did you pursue? And what was the application process like for you?

I attended graduate school at NYU Law.

The law school application is its own unique beast. I took a full year to work on it. I’m happy to chat more specifically about the process with any interested Scholar. I truly mean it — so please reach out!