Scholar Voices: How my passion for business and social impact led me to Converse
I am currently a senior at Dartmouth College, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Markets, Economics and Management. I hope to merge both my passions for business and social impact over the course of my career. I have been part of many different organizations that give back to the community, including TGR Foundation’s Earl Woods Scholar Program.
In 2016, I co-founded Empowering Generations of Leaders (E.G.O.L), a collective that works on developing young leaders in the community and encourages them to lend their voice in the worlds of art, politics and civic engagement to change their neighborhoods for the better. More recently, I also co-founded my clothing company R.House. With my company, I have been able to provide a platform and a distribution channel for young creatives of color.
E.G.O.L focuses on equipping young people, primarily Boston natives, who come from disadvantaged communities within the city. Boston is a mecca for technology, medicine, arts and politics. There are a lot of local young people who do not have knowledge about and access to the resources in their community. Our organization is working to equalize the playing field and move the needle in making this city more equitable for youth and disadvantaged communities. Each year we publish a strategic priority. Priorities can range from providing arts education to students to increasing youth awareness around civic engagement. In this way, we hope to be able to tackle the many institutionalized barriers that inhibit young people from reaping the full rewards of their blossoming community.
Our most recent project was an “Immigrants Keep Us Safe” fundraiser. The COVID-19 pandemic has been horrifying in every way imaginable, but it has also mobilized communities around the world to show the best of who we are as people. As a child of immigrants, I have seen firsthand the contributions that they make to our communities. The world is now recognizing what we have always known. The work of immigrants on the front-line in our hospitals, grocery stores and food services is often without fanfare but has an extraordinary impact on our daily lives. Due to their sacrifice, we are able to stay home. Immigrants are also being excluded from federal COVID-19 emergency relief payments. As a way to do our part, E.G.O.L decided to sell t-shirts and donate all proceeds to MassUndocuFund, an organization dedicated to providing resources to undocumented families.
I love helping my community any chance I can and finding a way to do that with my love for fashion has always been my goal. With that, I decided to start a new fashion label in early 2020. R.House was created to be a clothing design collective that validates and uplifts the work of minority creatives within the fashion arena. The name R.House is a play on words, signifying “Our House,” or a space in which creative people of color can enjoy artistic freedom while feeling liberated from the need for validation from major corporate-owned figures within the industry. The goal is to avoid the trap of having their ideas appropriated.
I have always been interested in fashion and started my first clothing line when I was 14 years old. I knew I wanted to develop more skills within the business side of the industry, but the fashion industry is a little tricky; it’s rare to find job postings online, and most internships are unpaid. Networking and relationship building are the keys to obtaining an opportunity in the industry.
I knew I wanted to be at Converse, it was a dream since I was a kid. I looked up different recruiters from the companies and started reaching out on LinkedIn. I started each message talking about my interest, then asked about potential openings and attached my résumé. I didn’t get many responses at first. Then I tried using RocketReach, a site that helps you crack the code for how companies assign email formats. After about 50 emails and countless bounce backs, I got a response from Converse. A recruiter reached out and invited me to have a 15-minute chat that led to a summer internship opportunity.
At Converse, I worked with the North American marketing team. I conducted a competitive analysis and presented my recommendations on how to best respond to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement to the Converse marketing leadership. I also had the chance to develop an influencer marketing strategy for the Converse basketball team.
The experience and growth that I was fortunate to have in a short time still amaze me. Converse is a place like no other. I enjoyed every minute of my internship and have never felt more at home than I have in the past nine weeks. One of the most important things that I value from my experience was the ability to be my authentic self. I’ve always found myself in the world wearing different masks to be accepted in certain spaces. This is the first time I could truly come as myself and be received with open arms. Knowing that the culture at the company is one that values authenticity, I’m excited and proud to share that I recently accepted a full-time offer to join the Converse team following my graduation from Dartmouth College. Dreams really do come true!
I want to thank TGR Foundation and the Earl Woods Scholar team for all their guidance and mentorship on my journey. Truly, I am grateful for the love and support. The love that I have for the staff is beyond words. They took a chance on a kid from Boston and made him believe he could do anything, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Redefining what it means to be a champion.⠀⠀
The Earl Woods Scholar Program is funded through support from TGR Live Events, State Street, Farmers Insurance, Aptive Environmental and Bank of the West. Join us to support more students like Natan on their path to college and career success. Click here to learn more about the Earl Woods Scholar Program.