Making Fruitful Connections
It has been nearly four years since it happened. And she’s been through a global pandemic. But Aeliana Lomax remembers the day clearly.
She had just left her internship in Baltimore and was heading to Loyola University. She checked her email before starting the car and saw a message from Jamal Washington of the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI). He told her she was accepted to be in the inaugural cohort of Albrecht fellows—a group of two dozen college students seeking leadership roles in careers related to driving global business and global good.
“I screamed,” she says. “It was one of the first things I had ever applied to that I truly wanted. I knew it could have such an impact on what I had recently decided I wanted to focus on—international business. I forwarded the email to my mother and then gave her a call. She said ‘This is incredible.’ We were both over the moon. It still brings such a smile to my face to think of that day.”
It is not surprising that her mother is the first person she called, as that is who has been informally coaching Aeliana for the work world—and life—for years.
“Always remember where you are and why you’re there,” Aeliana recalls her mother telling her when she was a young girl. “Fruitful connections matter in this world.”
Aeliana and her mother knew that being an Albrecht fellow would be a way to address both the where and the why.
So, on a summer morning in 2018, Aeliana put on a suit and did the 90-minute drive from her home to the first fellowship session. It was on the 22nd floor of the iconic World Trade Center building in downtown Baltimore. She and the 24 other people in her cohort absorbed sage advice about leadership from fellowship founder Dr. James Albrecht and heard from two other leadership experts—one who focused on how to use your voice and the other who spoke about leveraging LinkedIn. Over the next three months, they would meet weekly with a variety of global business leaders in Maryland, all as part of WTCI’s new Global Pathways for Students program.
One of the sessions was at Ciena, a Maryland-based telecommunications company and longtime supporter of WTCI. One of the things the company’s chief marketing officer, Joe Cumello, taught the students is that you are only as good as you treat your people. Therefore, he said, you need to take time to get to know your product, industry and clients. That was important advice for Aeliana, who was beginning to think the aspect of international business she might want to focus on is marketing, where connecting with people is critical. She had previously thought she wanted to be a lobbyist, mitigating crises in the world like, she said, Kerry Washington in Scandal.
Another memorable session for Aeliana was when she learned how to write a great resume and shine in a job interview by, for example, using the right body language.
“These are things students need to know,” says the 24-year-old. “Everything is so cutthroat in the current talent market that all of these tips matter.”
But, she says, one of the best parts of being a fellow was getting to know people, particularly potential employers or people who can connect her to potential employers. As the program was winding down, Jamal introduced her to somebody at Brown Advisory who was in the market for a business intelligence intern. Not long after the introduction, Aeliana was interning there. And that experience led her to where she is today—working as a biologic sales representative at Eli Lilly & Company, currently based in Maryland. She, rightfully so, views sales as a steppingstone to marketing.
“Global Pathways for Students is a program with so much intentionality related to making connections. Jamal really wanted to open doors for all of the fellows. There’s nowhere else you can go as a college student to get access to these business leaders.”
Aeliana shares what she learned as a fellow with as many people as possible, particularly her sister, who will soon start her first semester in college.
“Always remember why you are in a room,” she tells people. “So, if you get accepted as an Albrecht fellow, get to know everyone in the room. They all matter – the students, the business leaders, the people at WTCI. That’s how you will get the most out of life.”
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