Summer 2015 Bridges Reflection

By Danielle Golinski; Bridges to NYC Program Coordinator 

Summer 2015 bridges to NYC has wrapped up and students have returned to their respected home states. What an incredible program and opportunity this has been, and I am fortunate to have spent my entire summer in NYC supporting the students and the program, in no better place than the Big Apple!

So, let’s recap. Instead of posting throughout the summer, I’ve decided to wrap everything into 1 big post. How did this year look and what where the highs and lows? Read on to find out more, hope you’re ready!

Part I: Getting Ready for Departure

Starting the program on Elon’s campus just weeks before the class of 2015 graduation, we spent some time reviewing personal goals and reviewing professional documents. I had the opportunity to meet with each student at least once 1v1 to review their hopes for the city. It was a chance to create an action plan and start the networking (while still in North Carolina!).

Since there were only 3 (fabulous and energized) students this year, I really wanted the program to focus on them and their goals and needs. I encouraged the students to communicate with me frequently about things that they were interested in exploring while in the city and events that would be helpful for their professional development.

During our last time as a group on campus, we brought in Nolan Patouillet – Assistant Director for Residential Life at the Station of Mill Point, and he shared with us his knowledge about finances and living on a budget in NYC. The session was extremely informative (I learned a few things myself!), as the students were able to get an inside scoop on the reality of prices in NYC; everything is much more expensive compared to North Carolina, so it is good to be prepared for this shock and how to get ready for it.

I provided students with a bridges to NYC binder (with an Elon Alumni sticker decal!) that provided handouts and resources that could be used as reference points for their time in the city. The only thing that was left to do was to walk across the stage Under the Oaks, grab diploma, pack bags and get to NYC to begin their 9-week professional development program.

Part II: In the City

Apartment visits
Company visits
Alumni panels
Alumni networking opportunities
Alumni mentors
Negotiation workshop
Budgeting workshop
Social NYC events
Professional etiquette and HR workshop
End of summer celebration

These are just a few of the many events that the students were a part of this summer. They learned a lot and did a lot! Not only did they learn about themselves, but they also learned about post-graduate life, and that it is not as easy as one may think. No longer living “in the bubble” of Elon University, the students had to take it upon themselves to make sure they stood out (in a good way!) amongst the crowd and how to live in such a concentrated, culturally diverse, loud yet energizing city. Fortunately, they had each other to lean on and use each other as sounding boards and resources. I observed the 3 students getting to know each other more and more each week, through their personal highs and lows.

What was my favorite part of the summer? Meeting and getting to know many of the fabulous Elon alumni who have been HUGE supporters of the program from the beginning. Yes, I sent many emails to many of them during the planning stages of the program, but it was absolutely fantastic to put a face to a name when meeting them at the Meet and Greet, at panels, during apartment visits, or during workshops where they shared their craft with our students. Every single one of them have been immensely helpful in pulling this program together, serving as creative sounding boards to help plan the program and letting me know about their past involvement and also about things that worked and didn’t work last year. Without them, the program could not run, and I am forever grateful for their insights and support of the program! Thank you!


Part III: Student’s Success and Future Plans: Where Are They Now?


courtneyCourtney Hill: Courtney attended a FindSpark event at the beginning of the summer and networked her way to land a customer service position at Blue Apron! It was such a thrilling experience to be a part of her journey! Although Courtney is commuting from home (right outside of the city), her goal is to relocate into the city, closer to work. Can’t wait to have you in the city Courtney! Congratulations on making the most of your summer and accomplishing your goals, although you thought at time it was “too good to be true”. You have some incredible talents, and Blue Apron is so lucky to have you on their team! Keep up the great work!

melissaMelissa Benedetti: Melissa worked extremely hard this summer and landed an internship (although unpaid) at Lynn Verlayne Studio. She worked as a Marketing and Public Relations intern, to help promote new artists and assist in the various stages of music production. Melissa attended apartment visits this summer along with networking opportunities with Elon alumni (shout out to all the fantastic alumni out there!). Upon the end of the summer, Melissa has moved home to Maryland to continue the job search and has had many promising leads and interviews (opportunities in both MD and NYC!). She currently looks for opportunities “behind the scenes” of the entertainment industry: production, TV, shows, films, event planning. Great job this summer Melissa! You really worked hard this summer!

anaAna Preciado: Ana was very diligent this summer in networking herself and growing her professional contacts. She accompanied the Elon in NYC program along company visits and networked after the events with Elon alumni. Not only was Ana spending her summer looking (and interviewing!) for full time positions and internships, but she also studied and took the GRE’s in hopes to work towards her Masters in the city in the near future. Ana didn’t stop this summer! She was aggressive in making new connections and also following up with old ones. Since the program has ended, Ana has decided to return back home to Panama City, Panama to network there in hopes of finding a full time opportunity in marketing, graphic design and/or social media. Great work this summer Ana! I know that you will find professional success very soon!

Part IV: Program’s Future

So, as you can see, it has been a great, successful year! Now, we are already thinking about next year. This year we only had 3 students, and the prior year we had 9(!). Why is there such a sudden decrease in numbers? It is ideal to run the program with ~8 students and this is always our goal. The tricky part about this past year, is although we marketed the program like crazy, only 3 students applied to the NYC program (and accepted all 3), and not a single student applied to the LA program so it didn’t run this year. We are hoping to make the program sustainable and intriguing for our graduates, so if you have any ideas on how we cam rebrand or add/subtract to the program, all feedback will be accepted. Please feel free to email me:


Congratulations Rachel!!

After a soul searching summer in NYC, filled with tons of interviews, Rachel has landed a full time position in the Big Apple as an Associate Recruiter with the Computer Futures division of SThree, a global recruiting firm! Congrats!

rachel wyngaarden

Welcome Back Tyler!

Congratulations to Tyler, who was welcomed back to Elon as one of the University’s newest Admissions Counselors!


He will begin traveling throughout the southeast very soon to recruit new students and no doubt sharing his own Elon experiences, including the bridges program, with them.


We recently went to see the musical Avenue Q, an all too real story about a recent college grad who moves to a teeny tiny apartment in New York City in search of his purpose.


Before we left Elon back in May I asked all of the students to “tell me about themselves”. They wrote their answers down, said them out loud and rewrote them again and again. Their answers were shaky, rehearsed at best, there was nothing authentic about them. Two months later I can honestly say the biggest difference in this group is their confidence – they are assured of who they are, what they are capable of and what they want. Best of all they can now articulate it naturally without a second thought and it is helping them to find their way.


I am so proud that each of them has found their voice, has found their story and I hope has found their purpose.


Congratulations to the first few folks in our group to land positions this summer! We are so proud and wish you all the best!


Hannah accepted a full time position at OMD with lots of room to grow!


Kate will be doing freelance work for Conde Nast in HR!


Kiley is working as an intern with Katerine Gass, art curator and founder of James Company Contemporary Art Projects LLC!

We’re Half Way There

photoThis weekend we officially hit the 1 month mark in the program…1 down, 1 to go. To celebrate how far we’ve come we gathered with a few alumni and the Cornelia Street Cafe in the Village for a lovely little brunch! We ate until our hearts content and chatted away about the progress everyone is making, the fun we’re all having and the challenges we’re facing. As usual our alums were able to provide great insight.

Enjoying our meal.

Enjoying our meal together.

There was even a little musical performance from some of our multi-talented participants!


Tyler and Todd’s newest hit “I need a J-O-B” accompanied by Kate on piano

Everyone left feeling quite full and positive that big things will be happening in the next month!

Picnic In The Park

2014-06-24 19.20.20

The whole group!

We gathered in Central Park last night on beautiful summer evening for a lovely picnic with even lovelier alums! I challenged all of the bridges participants to learn how to use their little kitchens, as they’ll soon have to do this often, and bring a dish for us all to enjoy. Some got quite gourmet with quinoa and caprese salads, while some reverted to childhood favorites bringing tater tots, mini pizzas and meatballs. It was quite the feast!





Recent Grads Seeking Nest of Their Own

Ask anyone who lives here, apartment hunting in NYC is a different kind of beast. This week we were fortunate enough to sit down with a member of the team at NestSeekers, yes the very same NestSeekers from Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing (even though we certainly won’t be searching Craig’s List for one of those anytime soon).

Thank You NestSeekers!

Thank You NestSeekers!

Now, we had been checking out apartments of other Elon alums for the past two weeks – we’ve been to Chinatown and Brooklyn, Astoria, Kips Bay and SouthStreet Seaport are on deck too and while we saw some pretty nice pads we heard one too many horror stories.

High Above the Sky! Rooftop shot at the apartment of former bridges students.

High Above the Sky! Rooftop shot at the apartment of former bridges students.

It was time to call in a professional. We truly got the inside scoop at NestSeekers (stuff the other guys won’t tell you and would kill them for telling us). Armed with where to look, what to look for, what to bring and what to ask, we’re ready to tackle the beast!