Spotlight Q&A with La Tasha Shevlin: After starting hercareer in Hospitality Management, La Tasha switched to career development afternoticing that people who looked like her were having difficulties gettingthrough the hiring process. She is now the Executive Director at UpTurnships, anon profit dedicated to ensuring that all college students have equal access tohigh quality, meaningful, paid internships that will impact their careerpotential. If you haven’t heard of UpTurnships, go check them out!
Q: Can you tell us a littleabout your professional background and journey?
I started my career inHospitality Management and managed hotels in TX, NY, NJ, & MN. I switched to career development when I noticed people wholook like me were having difficulties getting through the hiring process. So, Iwent to work in Career Development at Normandale Community College.
I left that role to go be aco-owner/operator of The UPS Store, which I owned for five years. Aftermeeting the Executive Director of Project for Pride in Living (PPL) at thetime at a Minneapolis Chamber lunch event, I began volunteering withindividuals in PPL's Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) helping themwith workforce development, things like resume creation andinterview prep.
From there I switched tohelping youth with career development and post-secondary planningoptions at AchiveMPLS.
Eventually, becoming the Director of AdultEmployment & Training Programs at East Side Neighborhood Services. Irealized many of the people we served were experiencing barriers toemployment due to holes in their education. This prompted me to go work forCollege Possible as the Director of College Success. I was ultimately ledto UpTurnships through a partnership between both organizations to help CollegePossible students secure internships.
Q: Can you tell us more aboutUpTurnships, what they do, and how you got started with them?
UpTurnships serves highlymotivated underrepresented college interns while bridging access to employerswho help them gain practical skills and knowledge to increase theiremployability. Through my work at College Possible I saw very intelligentstudents graduate from college only to experience underemployment due tolack of practical experience or missing vital on-ramps to employment throughinternship opportunities. While working at College Possible I had theability to volunteer with UpTurnships and saw great value in their work andpeople with hearts truly connected to the students' success and overall well-being.I liked it! At the heart of me is a passion for workforce development and I sawthat same passion through others at UpTurnships. So, Idefinitely wanted to be a part of that magic!
Q: What is your absolutefavorite thing about UpTurnships?
There are so many things but, Iwill say the results we accomplish are my favorite. I am very resultdriven and in this case results equal changes in lives, making the workforcemore inclusive and equitable, and allowing students, volunteers, and employersto make changes that are better for the community at large.
Q: What is the biggest wayworking at UpTurnships has impacted you as a leader?
My leadership is beingstretched. This role as Executive Director comes with so many moving parts. Asa leader knowing when and how to maneuver those parts is a skill. It's askill I am still mastering and every day is a test to get to mastery.
Q: Best piece of advice youcould give to other female leaders?
Know yourself well. Learn yourstrengths and weaknesses and always be honest with yourself about these things.Having this knowledge will allow you to build the appropriate team to helpyou accomplish your goals.
Q: Best piece of advice youhave ever received?
The best piece of advice I everreceived I got as I was being fired. I was told early in my careerthat the relationship is more important than the issue. Building strongrelationships are imperative for success. And you will need these relationshipsthroughout your career. So, never lose sight of the relationship for thesake of the issue.
Q: What currently inspires you?
The people I work with inspireme every day. Their dedication to the work, themselves, our team, and thestudents we serve is inspiring.
Q: What excites you about thenear future?
I am excited about the growthtrajectory of UpTurnships and the impact we are destined to have on internshipopportunities for all involved.
Q: Do you have any new hobbiessince the start of quarantine?
Chair dancing! Taking a 3-5minute break and dancing in my chair as I work from home has become a newfoundhobby!
Q: If you could choose anyprofession, regardless of talent or ability, what would it be?
I would be an international motivational speaker. I would love to havethe ability to inspire people to build their dreams just by words.