The Smart Start Career Fellows Program

THE SMART START CAREER FELLOWS PROGRAM, which launched in 2017, was created for sophomore students who identify as first-generation college and/or low-income (FLI). The primary goal of the program is to provide career development opportunities and experiences for students who have an interest in exploring various post-Pomona pathways.

The 2022 Smart Start Career Fellows network with Johny Ek-Aban ’19, Liam Reese ’18, Jacob Barrera ’14, Joshua Rodriguez ’13, and Jeremy Snyder ’19 at Sports Basement during a career trek to San Francisco where they met with nine employers including Google, Accenture, and Museum of the African Diaspora, as well as Pomona Alumni and Trustees.

Over the course of three months, Fellows engage in individual advising sessions and a curriculum that includes assignments and seminars focused on self-assessment, career research, and networking. The program guides Fellows as they explore and create a career plan, culminating in a 3-day, expenses-paid trek to a U.S. metropolitan city where they engage in industry site visits as well as alumni networking events. Some of the site visits have included Google, Accenture, Museum of the African Diaspora, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, National Center for Youth Law, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Smart Start Career Fellows program is managed and led by the Career Development Office, with support from the Office of Advancement. Originally underwritten by Accenture, the program is now fully funded by alumni and family donations.

Students: How to Apply

  • The Smart Start Application opens in September and closes in late September/early October.
  • Students can apply via SurveyMonkey Apply with a résumé and by answering a few short essay questions.
  • Students can expect to see announcements in the CDO’s Sneak Peek of the Week, on the CDO’s social media, and potentially receive email notifications announcing when the application goes live via the CDO, their Sophomore Class Dean, and other staff members who work with FLI students.

When the application opens, it will appear here:

Alumni: How to Get Involved

Pomona Alumni play an integral role in making Smart Start such a valuable opportunity for participating Fellows. They traditionally participate on-campus during the seminars and/or in the evening networking activities during the trek. Often, they are part of the team that hosts the students at the site visits.

The 2022 cohort program included a beta test of the Fellows being matched with alumni mentors who can provide them with specific career advice and guidance.

Employers: How to Participate

During January of 2023, Smart Start Career Fellows visited a diverse range of companies/organizations, including Google and the Museum of the African Diaspora, in San Francisco, California. Our data indicates that 95 percent of the first three cohorts of Smart Start Fellows have been successful in securing summer internships following participation in the program.

Support Smart Start

Your gift today to this campaign will directly impact Pomona students by helping to provide career advising, mentorship, and leadership development through Smart Start. We thank you for your support and for helping to create a more equitable and inclusive educational environment.

Your Gift Today Provides:

  • Important resources and materials for the on-campus portion of the program, including purchasing assessments such as Clifton Strengths for all students.
  • Travel expenses to prospective employers (flight costs, transportation, meals, hotel accommodations).
  • Materials to students prepare for the experience, such as padfolios and stipends for work appropriate attire.