For Black History Month and beyond, we are spotlighting dynamic individuals who participated in the U.S. Chamber’s Next-Gen Scholar program. The program provides competitive internship opportunities for university students to serve in departments across the organization based on their interests and academic majors. Reana Wilson is a 2021 Clark Atlanta University Graduate and was a Next-Gen Scholar in 2021 as well. She is currently a graduate student at Pepperdine University. Wilson shares her insight on her time in the Next-Gen program below. What follows has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: How has your experience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and within the Next-Gen Scholar program shaped your outlook on the future of your career?
My experience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and within the Next-Gen program has completely changed my outlook on the future of my career in multiple ways. First, I see myself as a part of the next generation of business and policy leaders, this program places you in positions that we do not always get to see ourselves in. You are also introduced to and have the opportunity to interact with various business leaders, which has inspired me in my career. I am currently pursuing a dual Master’s of Public Policy and Dispute Resolution and much of my decision to pursue this sector of education has been based on my time at the U.S. Chamber.
Q: Name a skill you’re currently utilizing within your career that you learned while you were in college.
A skill that I learned during my college career (and that I'm still learning as a dual master’s student), is time management. So much of how I have been able to continue to work at the U.S. Chamber while also pursuing my education, is knowing how to properly organize and manage my time. The simple task of creating a calendar for your days or weeks, will completely enhance how much you are able to accomplish.
Q: How has attending an Historically Black College or University positively impacted your life as you transition from being a student to a future business leader?
Attending an HBCU was the best decision I could have ever made for myself and my career for many reasons, but one that stands out to me is our motto at Clark Atlanta University: “find a way or make one.” This mentality has taught me not to wait for someone to open doors for me, but to find a way to open them for myself. I never see a “no” as a failure anymore, but a simple “not yet.” Attending an HBCU challenged me to be excellent and never minimize myself and this is something I keep with me as I transition to a future business leader.
Q: Tell us about a memorable moment you experienced during your time as a Next-Gen Scholar.
A memorable moment during my time as a Next-Gen Scholar would have to be the Next-Gen Summit. Having the opportunity to speak on a panel from the perspective of an HBCU student discussing race-based opportunity gaps in entrepreneurship, wealth, education, and employment was an experience I will never forget and was able to learn a lot from.
Q: We like to ask participants what business means to them. Could you finish this sentence in your own words: Business is...
Business is more than an organization or company that sells goods and services, business is a group of people united together to create change and influence society for the better.
Learn more about the U.S. Chamber's Next-Gen Scholar program here.