Blake Mankin - 2012 Stelos Fellow

Sometimes students need more than scholarships - sometimes they need experience. That's why we created the Stelos Fellows program.

                           Blake Mankin

                           Blake Mankin

Graduating from college was unsettling.

Up until that point, life was measured in semesters and broken up by vacations. Performance was assessed with letter grades, and the class syllabus communicated a clear understanding of exactly what was going to happen each day. From kindergarten to 16th grade, formal education focused on preparing me for the future. I supposedly learned all the tools necessary to be a successful adult entering a challenging workforce. But I didn’t completely feel ready for post-college life like they promised.

I walked across a stage and received a crisp diploma from the University of Texas at Austin. I joyfully took pictures with my family and friends, celebrating the end of papers and tests and all-nighters.

But this happiness was mixed with a good dose of anxiety. When I put on my cap and gown that day, I also put on a great deal of uncertainty about my next step. I hadn’t secured a job, despite a handful of internships on my resume and a list of contacts I’d made. I knew what I wanted to do, but I hadn’t gotten the gig. My dream was to become a development professional in a nonprofit organization working to solve the world’s water crisis. With a diploma in my hand and idealism in my heart, I marched into the world of unemployment with a hesitant smile on my face.

And then the Stelos Alliance Fellows Program settled my nerves.

Soon after graduation, I started working as a Stelos Fellow - honing my skills as I looked for the right job. I sought out grant money for the organization, gaining real experience and learning necessary, transferable skills to prepare me for the career I wanted. As I interviewed for jobs, I could draw on the work from my fellowship - employers liked to see I was making the most of my time as an unemployed college graduate by learning and gathering new experiences.

The Stelos Alliance’s mission is to help extraordinary young leaders - the Stelos Fellows program is one of the many ways that mission plays out. My fellowship with Stelos was pivotal in empowering me to transition out of college with a little more confidence as I move closer toward the work I want to do.

"The Stelos Alliance’s mission is to help extraordinary young leaders - the Stelos Fellows program is one of the many ways that mission plays out."