The Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs student group recognized singer, actress, and entrepreneur Tatyana M. Ali ’02 at a conference Saturday focusing on nontraditional business fields and resourceful job-seeking in the midst of an economic downturn.
The conference, attended by about 150 students and held in the Charles Hotel, featured panels on creative career tracks like entertainment, sports, and fashion, followed by a luncheon that seated students with industry panelists.
The luncheon featured Ali, who is the CEO of HazraH Entertainment—an independent film company specializing in urban entertainment, according to its Web site. She is best known for her role as Ashley Banks on the popular 1990s sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
A few students have secured internships and full-time jobs through previous conferences, according to the event’s organizers, who pointed to Christina S. Wells ’08 as one such example. Attending this year’s conference to support her current employer, Wells said that she would advise students to seek more creative careers outside of the typical investment-banking and finance fields.
“All my roommates had done e-recruiting,” Wells said. “I never got through one application.”
Instead, when Wells attended the AMBLE Spring Career Conference her senior year, she met Alvin Bowles, the senior vice president of integrated marketing at BET Networks. According to Wells, Bowles initially told her, “Sorry, we’re not hiring,” but she continued e-mailing and calling before finally securing an internship in New York City the summer after her graduation.
Wells called the current economic conditions a “great opportunity,” forcing job-seekers to be more flexible than in times past.
“This pushes students to think outside the box,” she said. “E-recruiting is very easy to fall into, but this challenges students not to rest on the comfort of e-recruiting and to do their own research.”
Ali seemed to agree. “At Harvard the traditional route is investment banking, which is not where you want to be,” she said, drawing laughter. The singer-actress stressed “blazing a path that is unique,” advising attendees to “stay true to yourself, and the money will flow.”
Conference attendee Robert C. Watson ’09 said he believed some students were already turning away from the financial sector to overseas employment, fellowships, and public service in light of the current financial crisis.
Panelists at the event stressed the importance of adaptability and persistence.
“In this environment, be resourceful and resilient,” said Bryant S. McBride, the CEO and founding partner of Accrue, a venture capital sports and entertainment firm.
“We might hear a thousand ‘Nos,’ but it’s that one ‘Yes!’ that’s important,” Ali said during her address Saturday.
—Staff writer Ellen X. Yan can be reached at email@example.com.