Not just ANY program

New York City, 30 Sep 2016

When Macquarie New York employee Simon Ang began working with 19-year-old community college student Jesus through the America Needs You mentoring program in 2014, his student had little idea of what he wanted do after he left college. With his mother working as a cleaner and his father employed at a deli, Jesus didn’t have access to the type of networks or experience that could assist him in securing a corporate role.

With Simon’s encouragement and support over the two-year program, Jesus is now applying for graduate positions in actuarial work, following an internship in this field in his third year at college.

“I have a network of friends across finance and access to the types of people he needed to speak to so I could make some phone calls and connect him, as well as do some research online myself,” says Simon.

“Once we figured out what he needed to do, like the kinds of exams required, then my role was more to help him stay on track. He was really motivated but he didn’t always know how to connect the dots so I was able to help him do that which was important.”

While Simon didn’t grow up in the US so had no direct experience of the local college system, he was able to draw on his knowledge of general business practice, such as appropriate letter-writing and interviewing skills. “For example, I told Jesus how I’ve answered the standard ‘how have you overcome a difficult situation’ question in an interview before and my response gave him a sense of how he could answer from his own circumstances,” Simon says.

America Needs You (ANY) supports economic mobility for ambitious, low-income college students. It connects diverse professional college graduate mentors in their mid to late twenties with first-generation college students, providing the latter with career development, mentorship, and professional networks. The overall goal is to support ANY students graduate from college and gain employment in their industry of choice.

Macquarie has partnered with ANY since 2011, when Macquarie staff member Will Demas introduced the two organisations and developed the relationship while he was working as an ANY mentor himself. He had heard about ANY through a colleague and its goals resonated; he also went on to chair ANY’s Youth Leadership Board.

“People at Macquarie have really connected with the organisation and it’s taken on a life of its own beyond me so that’s great,” Will says.

“ANY’s impact is evident in the statistics – out of the ANY program, 96% of Fellows graduate from college, compared to 11% of an equivalent cohort, a massive improvement. And ANY graduates also make on average around $70,000 in their first year out of college compared with $30,000 so this shows it is a real success.”

He said that former ANY Fellows have also gone on to become mentors themselves, a testament to the loyalty that people feel to the organisation.

With a number of Macquarie staff engaged with ANY across fundraising, volunteering and leadership roles, Macquarie is now ANY’s largest corporate supporter. This includes a grant from the Macquarie Group Foundation made in 2014 to support the ANY’s Fellows Program expansion to Chicago.

Simon talks about finding the mentoring “a deeply, deeply rewarding experience” and noted it had also been a great opportunity to meet with high-achieving people from professional spheres he wouldn’t normally cross paths with, including in the healthcare, law and social services sectors.

“Not only is it really valuable as a way to give back but it’s also really made me better understand the lives of people with different priorities, different backgrounds and the struggles they have had - that’s been eye-opening.

“I still keep in touch with my Fellow; we text back and forth and we catch up,” he says. “I think I’ll be a friend/mentor for the foreseeable future with him - you do form these trusting relationships.”

Image caption: At a recent gala for America Needs You, Macquarie employee and ANY champion Will Demas spoke about the importance of supporting high potential, low income, first generation college students. Macquarie Group was recognized at the event for its ongoing support of the organization.