Setting Young Jews on Amazing Career Paths
By Dr. Bradley Caro Cook
As a Jewish entrepreneur and innovator (and an Atlanta native), I create simple solutions to engage Jewish young adults with low to no current Jewish connection or engagement. I believe that unless there’s a drastic shift in how we grab the attention of 18-26 year-olds, keep them engaged with Judaism, and inspire them to become the next generation of leadership, our Jewish communal infrastructure is at risk. When I learned about Federation Innovation’s Propel Grant program, I got excited.
I know that college students and recent graduates are hungry to advance their careers, grow their networks, and build community. So, in 2015, Rabbi Adam Grossman and I launched Career Up Now, combining mentorship and engagement, through a Jewish lens, to help emerging professionals form personal, professional, and soulful connections with industry leaders in the Jewish community. Since launching we have piloted in 9 U.S. cities and are scaling in four of those cities. Now, thanks to a Bloom seed grant from Federation Innovation, and support from the Joyce and Ramie Tritt Family Foundation and Mark Silberman, Career Up Now is in Atlanta.
In Atlanta, our first cohort consisted of 12 student leaders from Emory University. I soon thereafter realized there is little support or mentoring for young Jewish women entering business and STEM fields. As time went on I found this to be true on a national level and kept hearing Rabbi Tarfon, our ancient Jewish cheerleader and rebbe say, “while you don’t have to complete the task, you are not free to desist from this critical endeavor.”
While examining our mentor demographic, I discovered that we had only one woman industry leader contact or mentor for every 20 men. To address that imbalance, we doubled down to solve the problem we’ve launched Women of Wisdom https://www.careerupnow.org/atlanta-spring-2019.
While we achieved gender balance for our initial Atlanta Career Up Now due to the high demand for more women’s programs in Atlanta we needed to rapidly grow the number of women industry leaders in our network. To do this, we leveraged growth hacking for engagement, a process of rapid engagement growth enabling non-profits to accomplish in three months that which would take years to do. Using these strategies, we recruited 200 women industry leaders into our network in just three months. Now these Women of Wisdom are helping expand our network by engaging their colleagues and friends with Career Up Now programming.
Atlanta has been a pivotal experience and we are excited to continue to grow Career Up Now in Atlanta.