Homecoming: Tackling life in my hometown after graduation

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By: Dania Moctezuma, Operations Coordinator at Chicago


Dania Moctezuma, Operations Coordinator at Chicago holding her college diploma

Everyone envisions life after college very differently. Some want to move into the city and start a new chapter, while others want to move back home and begin a new life with a familiar setting. That’s me.

I have always been a homebody but never became entirely homesick because I was always seeking a new adventure. Going back home to Chicago after college was always part of my gameplan. Initially, I was unsure of my post-college career plans. That immediately changed once I discovered what my heart wanted — to empower first-generation college students who are from low-income families like me. I was glad to find a role in my community, for my community.

Dania Moctezuma holding her first business card
Holding my first business card from Braven!

I lived in Eastern Pennsylvania during my time in college and it amazed me how much Chicago neighborhoods and culture had changed since 2013. Nevertheless, I was eager to explore this new Chicago and put myself in a comfortable/uncomfortable position. I was intimidated to begin a new job but enthusiastic to see my career kick-off.

The balance between starting a new job and being in a city that was once so familiar had its perks. There were hundreds of individuals like me that were looking to network and find new experiences. It was a great opportunity to meet people. I have attended happy hours hosted by my Alma Mater and in creative workshops hosted around the city.

Once I discovered what my heart wanted, I was determined to find a job that aligned with my passions. I began to reconnect with former colleagues and to work with students like me. Soon, a former supervisor directed me to Braven. She was unfamiliar with the work they do but suggested I check it out. As soon as I read about Braven and understood its mission, I became more determined than ever to secure a position with the organization.

I reached out to former teachers and professors to help me prep for my interview. They looked over my resume, cover letter, and practiced interviewing with me. After several weeks of preparations, I nailed every interview I had with Braven. The anticipation was killing me. Every hour that passed after my final interview felt like an eternity. I finally heard back — I was offered the position I wanted!

Only in my wildest dreams did I believe I would be able to work for an organization where I can pursue my passion for social mobility through educational equality and career readiness — but that is my reality!

I was hired at Braven, whose mission is to empower promising, underrepresented young people with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks necessary to complete college and transition to strong first jobs, which lead to meaningful careers and lives of impact. Specifically, as the Operations Coordinator for Braven – Chicago at National Louis University. I am responsible for our regional operations and event planning and am the right-hand person to the Chicago Site Director.

I am thankful that I work for an organization that is aligned with my passions and serves the community where I am from. It makes this first job out of college even more memorable.