When Jessica Meek, a McCombs School of Business sophomore, learned about the Lime Connect Fellowship Program, she was drawn in by its mission to “rebrand disability through achievement.”
“When I looked into the program, I was absolutely thrilled,” Meek says. “Lime Connect’s belief in and view of high-achieving students and professionals who ‘happen to have’ disabilities really spoke to me.”
Offered to accomplished rising juniors with disabilities, this competitive program kicks off in the summer with an all-expense paid trip the annual Leadership and Development Symposium, which includes professional development training, internship opportunities and access to a wide network of U.S. corporate partners.
We caught up with Meek to learn about her professional development experiences in New York and her plans to embark on an exciting corporate marketing career this summer.
Applications for the 2020 Lime Connect Fellowship are open until March 1. Go here to learn more.
What did you get out of your experience at the symposium?
The Leadership and Development Symposium equips Fellows with practical tools and advice regarding recruiting and how to present oneself effectively and authentically. Guest speakers and leaders in the Lime organization facilitate exercises and thought-provoking discussions on anything from leadership styles to improvisation to resume building. In these discussions, we also learned how to best disclose our disabilities (when needed) and how to effectively ask for accommodations. In addition to these sessions, the symposium includes several panels – one of past Fellows and another of representatives from partner companies including Google, PwC, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Unilever. And if that wasn’t enough of an amazing opportunity, Fellows also get the chance to go to dinners with the past Fellows and partner company representatives to get one-on-one time to hear about their experiences and ask any questions they may have!
Of all the professional development activities and networking sessions, what did you enjoy most about the symposium?
The most incredible aspect of the Symposium is the friendships you make with the other Fellows. I know that sounds “cheesy,” but it is absolutely true. These are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet. They are truly wonderful and you develop a lasting bond with them. Our Fellows class still talks all the time, and we know we can—and we certainly do—call each other whenever we need to chat or need support.
What were the biggest advantages of being a part of the Lime Connect Fellows Network?
I would say the biggest advantages of being a part of the Lime Connect Fellows Network is the support you get from the Lime team. For example, they offer virtual information sessions on pertinent topics as well as one-on-one career and resume coaching sessions, to name a few. Additionally, you have access to the Lime partner companies, particularly with the Lime Connect Fellowship Program. They know how difficult it is to become a Lime Fellow, so when they learn that you are associated with Lime and/or the Fellowship, they really value that! Lastly, as with any network, you are now connected to so many wonderful people who have a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to give advice and help. There is really no exaggerating how helpful that is!
Have you used these skills in any internships?
I have definitely made use of the skills I acquired at Lime! For example, I learned more about my leadership style in one of the symposium workshops. After learning about what my default strengths were (such as “restorative,” “achiever” and “positivity,” in Gallup’s language), I was able to use and develop these more while being aware of the challenges/negative ways those leadership traits can be seen. This allowed me in my past summer internship and job last semester to be a more effective, well-received leader. Additionally, I was able to discuss my disability more openly and effectively. Before Lime, I struggled to describe my disability in a way that can be understood by others. Lime gave me the resources and skills to start a dialogue that others could really partake in and from which I could receive more help and understanding than in the past.
As a Fellow, how have you been learning to harness your strengths?
Lime allowed me to see my disability as a strength and empowered me to share my experiences with it more openly. Specifically, I realized how my disability has made me a much more empathetic person, who is quick to listen and desires to understand. My experiences with my disability have revealed the value of each individual’s story and the validity and truth of each and everyone’s unique experiences in this crazy world. Realizing this has enabled me to be a better co-worker, group member, mentor and friend.
Now, how confident are you to enter the workforce after graduation?
I now know how to better advocate for myself and ask for accommodations. Even more so, after the symposium, I feel more secure in who I am, what I bring to a team, and how I can best serve those around me. I am so grateful for the Lime Fellowship, and I cannot stress how wonderful of an experience it was!
What’s next after graduation?
I am currently studying marketing in the Canfield Business Honors Program while minoring in educational psychology. I hope to use my education to build a career in marketing. I am very excited about my upcoming summer internship at Frito-Lay, where I will be working in their marketing department. I am so grateful for this opportunity to work at and learn from such a fantastic firm!
What advice do you have for a student who’s considering to apply for this fellowship?
My advice is please, please apply! This program was one of the best experiences that I have ever had. You meet incredible people, have the most amazing experiences, and you will forever have the most wonderful support team who are always more than willing to lend a hand and who truly understand what you are going through. Also, for a lot of the Fellows in my class, this fellowship helped them get internships at some of the program’s partner companies. All around, this is an incredible opportunity and I highly recommend applying. You will not be disappointed!