Name: Tani Brown
Job Title and Description: Head of Partnerships at Jopwell
College Name/Major: Princeton University/B.A. in Religion and Certificate in African-American Studies
Twitter Handle: @jopwell
What does your current job at Jopwell entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Tani Brown: My job entails building a strong pipeline of partner companies from across the U.S. who use Jopwell to connect with, recruit and hire diverse candidates. Our platform helps leading companies connect with underrepresented minority students and professionals for employment opportunities. A big part of my job is making sure that a range of businesses – from bulge-bracket banks to tech companies to hospitals, for example – are represented on the platform.
This might involve traveling across the country to talk with the head of HR for a Fortune 500 about how their recruiters can leverage Jopwell, or it might mean hopping on a call with a candidate to chat through how Jopwell can support her career goals.
What is the best part of your job?
TB: I love knowing that everything we do on a daily basis is contributing to making America’s workforce more colorful.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
TB: My first entry-level job was in sales at Google. I was a display account coordinator when video and display advertising had just started to become popular, and I’d help retail companies figure out how to include digital advertising in their marketing strategies.
The funny story behind that job is that I came across it on Craiglist. I saw a posting for a temp agency filling a sales positions and applied. A Google recruiter ended up bringing me on as a contractor, and I was extended a full-time offer as an account manager six months later.
What advice do you have for college women hoping to get into the world of startups and tech? What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about those industries since working at Jopwell?
TB: Get out and engage with the world in order to create technology, experiences and products that can critically improve the lives of others. I left Google to complete a Fulbright in Vietnam, where I worked directly with underserved minority groups. That experience made me want to continue working with underrepresented students and professionals. I’d encourage everyone to spend time honing your skills and strengths and to create opportunities for yourself by having the courage to ask questions. Your unique perspective matters.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
TB: My mentor, Theresa Tran (former Director of Marketing for Jordan Brand). She taught me to be fearless and authentic and to consider my experience as a woman of color as a valuable resource. The most important thing she ever taught me, though, was the importance of kindness. Whether it’s the president or the janitor who cleans the office, everyone deserves the same amount of respect.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
TB: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” – John Wooden. I played basketball in college, which helped to instill the importance of setting short-term and long-term goals in my career. You can’t win every game, but preparation, teamwork and precision are invaluable to success.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
TB: Getting to meet and develop relationships with some of the most respected, talented business leaders in the country – and having them believe in and support Jopwell. A close second was living with eight teammates in a house in San Francisco for three months last summer when Jopwell was in Y Combinator.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
TB: I look for individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and thoughts that ultimately challenge me to become better at my job. Self-awareness, or the ability to recognize oneself as separate from her own environment, is also really important.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
TB: Take seriously all of the things that you don’t know yet. Create opportunities out of uncertainty.
Lastly, be grateful and pay it forward whenever possible. I left the office early the other day to speak to a group of New York City high school students at a career fair. The kids I chatted with were so insightful. I’d venture to guess that I learned more from them (about their perspectives on college, career prep and trending YouTube stars) than they did from me!