Colin Powell School
“Your Professional Career is More a Marathon than a Sprint.” Steven Rodriguez (‘14) and his Journey to Career Success
Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I am a first-generation Latino with parents from Colombia. I was going through the motions of education because that was the norm. The idea I grew up with was that to succeed in a career, we had to graduate from college at the very least. Without much guidance from family, I quickly stumbled and lost track of why I was on this path in the first place. I was academically dismissed after 5 years at Queens College and wound up in the CUNY New Start program based out of Kingsborough Community College where I finally graduated with an Associate's Degree. With my past track record in mind, I decided to offset the negative academic history with extracurricular activities at Kingsborough Community College as well as the broader CUNY level. I rose to President of Kingsborough Student Government and Vice Chair of the University Student Senate. In addition, my student activism led me to become part of the historic CUNY Pathways.
What brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School?
Upon KCC graduation, and with the conversations I had with colleagues in mind, I decided to try my hand at completing my college education again. I applied and was accepted into the Skadden Arps fellowship program which aims to prepare students from low-income and underrepresented groups for successful legal careers. While at CCNY, the degree program in International Relations was the pathway that resonated with me the most and this in turn embedded me within the Colin Powell School community.
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
Initially, my passion for pursuing my education at CCNY came from wanting to prove that I was not just another failed Latino statistic in college reports and also to make my family proud. However, the more I engaged with my education and the college community, I was slowly developing a massive transformative purpose as it stands today: to accelerate human connection for a sustainable future. This newfound purpose dovetailed with my curiosity for continuous learning that stands true to this day.
Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
My career launchpad was the Summer Program in Washington DC. Through it, I was able to build a network of colleagues and find opportunities to explore new pathways in my journey to reinvention. I applied for another job placement/fellowship program at the NextGen Venture Partners venture capital firm. Following this chapter, I was then offered my first full-time salary position at the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Taking on this opportunity catapulted me from the local to the global stage and drove impact across more than 170 countries. I then launched my own Digital Marketing Agency and started traveling Europe doing remote work before the pandemic. I like to attribute this to the summer program that connected me to Washington DC.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Your professional career is more a marathon than a sprint, with zig zags and variable terrain elevation. Have a goal but be adaptable to how your surroundings react to your presence. You are where you need to be, and you just need to drive your actions toward the goal you set out for yourself. I define luck when opportunity meets preparation. So get out there and drive your luck!
What are your future aspirations for your career?
Build a multi-billion dollar business and help the next generation of traditionally underrepresented groups towards wealth access, equity, and inclusion.