From Harvard to Disney: How One Woman Turned Her Passion for Choreography into a Corporate Job
By Khadejah Stegall
Khadejah is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program and attends North Carolina A&T University.
Have you ever found yourself passionate about a hobby, but had no clue how to turn it into a career? The Life Currency talked with Harvard University graduate, Adia Matthews. Matthews tells us how she turned her passion of choreography into a corporate career, what gave her the push to go to grad school and being a black woman at Harvard where African-Americans make up 5.1% of the population.
Matthews has a background in finance as an analyst working with companies such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. While at Harvard, Matthews established a relationship with a career coach at her career center. He was invested in her professional growth and told her to pay attention to her strengths and what she’s good at. “I got to know my career services coach really well to understand what were my differences and what were my strengths. I grew up dancing and when I first started meeting with my coach, I was in the process of choreographing a musical on campus. He noticed when I talked about the musical, I was excited and he noticed when I talked about financial roles I was interviewing for, I sounded really plain.”
Questions and thoughts Matthews' career coach had her think about for her career journey was “How do I work so what I do in the short term is going to make sense for me long term? Adia is a choreographer at heart. You love to execute, iterate, so just recognize when you walk into the path you are going (path into financial services), you’ll get exposure to a new skill set and a new industry, but if you find that it’s not a good fit to you, then you’ll know why. Think about the things that drive you.”
Matthews used this feedback to get where she is now. She got experience in the corporate world and then decided to go to business school so she could learn everything she needed to know to fully excel in her career journey. “I worked in equity sales and training on performing operation risk management. I wanted to think big picture and get exposure to different industries, not just sort of strategy and execution. When you are evaluating the decision to go to business school, start talking to people that are in the position that you are interested in. Start reaching out to your mentors and consulting with the people you know and understand the potential of where you are trying to get to. It’s a decision I wouldn’t take lightly. It’s not something you want to just jump into.”
Matthews talks about being a minority at an Ivy League and establishing a peer community. She was a part of the Black Students Association and Harvard University Women in Business.
“What I loved about Harvard is that it had a really strong black community. The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research is led by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Anything I was interested in learning about my own history was there. I really think you got a good sense of what it means to be African American. You have people from all over the world that you can learn from. I would say some of the challenges I faced with being a minority was adjusting to class. When I wanted to enter a professional field, my parents had not worked in corporate America before. I really had to look for those resources elsewhere.”
Matthews tell us how she had overcome the feeling of not belonging where she was at and believing that she was qualified. “Harvard has people of many diverse backgrounds and you meet people that came from way more privileged backgrounds. You have to overcome the fear that you don’t belong. Recognize that you have the skill to do what you want and you are where you are for a reason. Although you may have come from different backgrounds, there’s an opportunity from you to learn from others, so just start the conversation.”
Matthews put her love for choreography and executing together. She is currently pursuing this at The Walt Disney Network as a manager for cinema partnership by listening to her career coach and self-reflecting on what she wanted.
“Everything is a journey. Your first job out of school isn’t going to be that dream job. You are going to learn what you are good at.”
Khadejah Stegall is a college mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating vegan meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com