Meet Rodas Beraki, one of our wonderful Fellows from AHF’s 2021 Fellowship Circle.
Graduating from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2021 with an Honors Bachelor of Commerce and specialization in Law, Rodas is currently a Functional Consultant at NetSuite Oracle. During her time in Toronto Metropolitan University, Rodas was involved in the community as Corporate Associate for RWIL where she reached out to potential businesses for sponsorships for events that encourage gender equality and young women to enhance their professional development. Through this position, she was able to strategically align the goals of the organization by matching with sponsorships and creating exposure for Small Owned Businesses.
After a successful internship at TD as Business Governance Intern, Rodas was selected as a TD Campus Ambassador where she got the opportunity to connect with students and guide them to land internships with the bank. Her proudest achievement in her undergrad was when she was able to secure TD as the main sponsor for RWIL’s 8th Annual Conference.
In 2021, Rodas was awarded the Soberman Goldstein First Generation Award, along with the Law & Business Program’s Best Course Essay Award. Rodas is driven by the curiosity to learn and create impact, through finding an intersection between business, technology, social impact, and entrepreneurship
“It was such an honor to receive the awards. It was an important milestone in my journey and it was very rewarding to be recognized for my accomplishments and hardwork,” reflects Rodas.
The Importance of Finding Your Community
As a first generation student, Rodas struggled in her first year of university as she didn’t have a community that she could reach out to. “The transition to post-secondary is already difficult but when you add in the lack of an established community and being a new immigrant in Toronto, it takes a toll,” Rodas reflects.
This transition can be more difficult as networks are not equitable for all students, with only 9% of graduates reporting that their alumni network was helpful, having access to mentors and first-generation students reporting lower levels of a sense of belonging. Research shows that 66 percent of Black, Indigenous, and racialized women in Business agree that they don’t have access to strong sponsors. Business professionals tend to network and provide connections to individuals who look like them, those who essentially look like the majority. As a result, it is essential for Black, Indigenous, and racialized women to take matters into our own hands, proactively creating spaces for us to thrive.
“In the beginning of my third year, I started joining different organizations in Toronto like Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals where their main focus was to help Black youth and professionals gain work experiences and aid in their career development,” Rodas explains. “This experience made me reflect on the importance of being part of a community that supported you and validated whatever you are going through in your journey.”
“Afterwards, I strived to be part of organizations where I have resonated with their missions.”
Rodas chose to apply to AHF’s Fellowship Circle in 2021 after reading Dr. Golnaz’s story and seeing the similarities between their experiences. Rodas explains, “AHF’s mission of investing in women’s potential deeply resonated with me,” explains Rodas. “Seeing AHF’s mission resonated with me as I know what can be achieved when we defy the patriarchy and society’s limitations on gender roles and invest in the economic empowerment of women.”
Joining AHF in the midst of the pandemic, Rodas gained a community of mentors and friends. “I gained access to amazing mentors like Onah Osemeke with whom I keep in touch to this day. I’ve also added other young women who were part of my cohort to my network.”
At AHF, we believe in mentorship while celebrating and amplifying those who have paid it forward in an impactful way. We asked Rodas about mentors who have had an impact in her career journey.
“Although many individuals have played a role in my life through mentorship, a key mentor/sponsor who has had an impact on my journey is Candies Kotchapaw, founder of Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT),” states Rodas. “Candies is a force!”
In 2020, Rodas volunteered for DYLOTT as a Social Media Intern, working closely with Candies and the rest of the DYLOTT team. “Although her role as an Executive Director is demanding, she gave me the space to develop my leadership skills and trusted me with the reputation of her organization,” Rodas stated, “She was always willing to support me in whatever way she could and I felt truly supported by everyone at DYLOTT.”
Giving Back to Your Community Through Volunteering
As mentioned earlier, during her time in Toronto Metropolitan University, Rodas played an influential role in supporting the success of Black, Indigenous, and racialized women in business school. As Corporate Associate for RWIL, Rodas acquired business sponsorships for events that encouraged young women to enhance their professional development.
Rodas was also one of two representatives selected to be a committee member for the Ted Rogers School Management Student Initiative Fund, in charge of funding thousands of dollars to dozens of student initiatives every year, with its primary focus on seed funding for new projects. She also was the Fundraising Coordinator for the National Society of Black Engineers, and English Second Language Coordinator for the Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lifeline Syria Challenge.
When asked how these experiences have contributed to her growth and development, Rodas stated “My volunteer experience has shaped who I am. When you are a volunteer, you have to take ownership of your work by volunteering in different organizations and through different initiatives. I was able to see my strengths and be part of projects that I was passionate about.“
Research shows that volunteering can enhance one’s personal, professional, and academic skills development, create a sense of civic responsibility, and improve job choice and employability after graduation. For students, volunteering can act as a foot in the door to a professional career by providing experience and transferable skills that can be leveraged when searching for a job.
“As a new immigrant, I had no idea what to expect when I started searching for internship opportunities in my undergrad. Luckily I was accepted into the co-op program which helped me immensely as I was able to gain experience and enjoy the benefits of being in co-op,” Rodas muses. “Nonetheless, when I was applying to co-op jobs, I was able to speak about my volunteer experiences and how they helped me improve my communication skills and interpersonal skills.”
Choosing Your Profession and Career Plan
The goal of job hunting is not to simply find employment, but to find a place that works for you and your goals of personal and professional development. When asked what she looks for when making the decision to work for a company, Rodas advised, “it is important to speak to different individuals who work at the company who will give you different and real perspectives of the culture of the company.” Detailed research into the company’s culture will ensure that your employer’s views align with your personal mission, vision, and values.
“Joining initiatives like AHF will give you the opportunity to connect with other individuals who are working in the same industry or company. I have kept in touch with many peers and mentors who were part of AHF and are now part of my network.”
As a Functional Consultant at NetSuite, Rodas helps customers successfully implement Oracle Netsuite Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. In her decision to join consulting, Rodas says, “I envisioned myself in a role where I can manage and lead projects down the line and I knew that NetSuite will provide me with various opportunities to do that.”
When asked for employment tips, Rodas encourages students to, “join co-op as you will have numerous opportunities to gain work experience before you graduate. Attend different networking events and try to form genuine connections that interest you.”
“For recent grads, I know looking for that first job after graduation is a tough task,” Rodas recalls, “it is always important to stay grounded and trust the timing. Make a list of organizations/companies that resonate with you and connect with different individuals from there to see if it is a right fit for you.”
Co-operative Education is a key tool for Black, Indigenous, and racialized women in business and STEM. Rodas has had a co-op work term as a Junior Export Advisor in the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and a term as a Governance and Quality Control Intern with TD Canada Trust.
“Getting accepted to co-op was one of the major milestones of my undergraduate journey,” Rodas reflects. “It is one of the best decisions I have ever made as I was able to gain professional experience and exposure in both the public and private sectors.”