By Isabel Thottam
After graduating from Emerson College, I took a year off to work and travel. I spent the first half working for an Internet music start-up in Boston while also managing my own charity company, Hold On Another Day (HOAD), which I launched through Emerson’s E3 Entrepreneurial program. As the founder of HOAD, I worked with various independent musicians to raise awareness and funds for charitable causes by producing mix CDs and curating benefit concerts. We worked with local musicians to record songs they wrote in response to the Boston Marathon attacks, raising about $1,200 through the album’s proceeds for the One Fund.
After returning from traveling in Europe for three months, I decided to pursue my entrepreneurial desires and accepted a job at Warby Parker on their Customer Experience Team. There, I had the opportunity to volunteer alongside my co-workers at organizations such as Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). This was an especially exciting opportunity because I was coaching and mentoring high school students who were writing business plans and pitching ideas for their own companies, which allowed me to combine two passions—volunteering and entrepreneurial studies—and help inspire young minds.
At the same time, I was volunteering with Minds Matter in New York City as a Writing and Critical Thinking Advisor. I loved this experience because I was working directly with teenagers on their college essays and SAT/ACT essay preparation. I had also become involved with the Brooklyn-based nonprofit StoryCorps by volunteering with their StoryCorps University program. I listened to and transcribed students’ stories, which helped me to understand how everyone interprets differently what their “story” is.
My time volunteering with Emerson’s Alternative Spring Break program is one of my fondest memories. It’s almost funny to try and summarize how much I gained from that because I could talk about it forever! From my management style to my writing voice, I grew so much through my service learning projects, and the knowledge learned just from participating in and leading ASB resonates with me to this day. I’m planning to be more involved with my Nashville community now that I’ve been here for a few months. The community here reminds me a lot of the atmosphere ASB trips created in that everyone is interested in growing and constantly looking to help each other. I’m currently taking a Food Entrepreneurship course with the hopes of one day owning my own food business, and working with local businesses in my community to enhance their social media and online presence. I also write for Monster.com, where I post career advice to students and post-graduates. I even wrote a piece about Alternative Spring Break and corporate volunteering!