Attending students hope to apply these skills in outlets as diverse as their backgrounds. Jennifer, who wants to be a doctor, aims to use this opportunity to deepen her understanding of biology and continue her curiosity. Keishon hopes to be a future member of the School of Cinematic arts, but hasn’t worked intensively with computers before. With the help of his mentor, he plans to learn how to use computers to improve his filmmaking.
While Project Launch mentors deliver technical skills, they aim to sharpen soft skills and creative thinking. The program holds workshops on aspects of the business world, such as pitching, ideation, or crafting professional, appropriate emails. Armed with a balance of both hard and soft skills, Rockets encounter plenty of networking opportunities on expeditions called Safaris. Safaris bring Rockets and their mentors to various startups and tech companies throughout LA. Some past destinations include Buzzfeed, Mammoth Media, and Science Inc. Rockets are encouraged to have engaging conversations with company representatives so they can make bonds and connections that will last for years after their Safaris. Erickson Lopez, a former Rocket, has held an internship with Mammoth Media. Lopez credits Project Launch for helping him develop the wide range of skills required for the internship and for providing the opportunity to visit and form significant relationships Mammoth Media.
Even though Project Launch aims to equip students with tools for success, Project Launch leader and mentor Maya Fine wants the Rockets to know that “it’s ok to make mistakes, and that everything happens for a reason. I want [Rockets] to know that they are supported, and that they are free to change their minds and make choices in their own best interest.” The students I met were indeed anxious to develop new and helpful skills, but nearly everyone I talked to — Rocket or mentor — was even more excited about friendships that are sure to develop. Alumna Mayra Blas detailed the best lessons she learned from her mentor. Her favorite: Don’t say you can’t. Blas explained that her mentor helped develop a can-do spirit, where she was comfortable with any and all challenges she may face. This helped guide her to pursue opportunities she might have previously considered too challenging.
Even mentors share their Rockets’ eagerness to grow. Fine said she was most excited to “see how all of the workshops that we have planned this semester teach both the Rockets and the mentors. Personally, I would have taken them for myself if I could.” Jules Nash, a current mentor, said, “I’m excited, not only to teach my student, but to learn from them,” which is a common attitude among mentors.
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