Wisdom For The Class of 2016

By Jessica Hendricks Yee, IATG Contributor

Hi all! Our friend Jessica rounded up some encouragement, tips, and advice for the Class of 2016 from entrepreneurs, photographers, and even a lawyer for the United Nations. But let's be real, there is some major wisdom here for which we can all be grateful. Take it from these outstanding, inspiring girls: you have great things ahead of you. Now, let's get out there and be THAT GIRL. Together, we're going to change the world.


Liz, IATG Blog Editor



Instagram: @TheBraveCollection


Exposed to design and travel from a young age, Jessica Hendricks was born in Paris and grew up outside Manhattan with eyes glued to the cases in her mother’s jewelry shop. Fascinated by indigenous cultures and spirituality, Hendricks traveled to Cambodia to teach English during the summer after her Sophomore year at NYU Tisch. She was mesmerized by the tangled synthesis of both the beautiful and heartbreakingly violent past of this small Buddhist country in the wake of genocide, and the reality of human trafficking. Combining her love of jewelry and philanthropic spirit, Jessica was inspired to create a collection to celebrate this unique community, and connect courageous women across the globe. Hendricks and The Brave Collection have been featured by Vogue, Glamour, Refinery29, CNBC, MSNBC. Hendricks made the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Retail & Ecommerce, and was invited to the White House as one of 60 young entrepreneurs to witness President Obama’s speech encouraging support of Emerging Global Entrepreneurs.

Hometown Larchmont, NY

Age 28

Describe yourself in one word... Passionate!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do? 

Stay strong, steady, and positive when working alone, especially in the beginning. Launching a startup can be lonely and isolating, and waking up every morning and believing in yourself through the ups and downs is a major test in self-love and perseverance.

What is the worst decision you made when starting your career? 

When I graduated from conservatory at NYU Tisch and went on to pursue my acting career, I think I failed to realize that even if you are pursuing a creative career, you are still running a business. If I had been able to treat my acting career as a product, the same way I do for The Brave Collection, I think I would have been more successful, but at the time I was too close to my craft to be able to approach it like a business.

Who’s had the biggest impact on you?

Passionate, hard-working women. My entrepreneurial mom, my childhood acting teacher, and more recently the incredible female designers who have mentored and supported me. When I find a woman I look up to, who I can relate to on a personal level, I see my myself and my future in her, and her advice and words of wisdom affect me so profoundly.

You may be surprised to learn that I…was the only girl to play the saxophone in my elementary school!

Wisdom for the Graduating Class of 2016:

Don’t let your education stop here. You can learn an incredible amount in the classroom, but now that you have the freedom to pave your own path, don’t forget to stay curious and open. Travel as often as you can and meet different kinds of people, and listen to their stories. Remember that you are incredibly blessed to have received the education that you did, and you have the power to make an incredible mark on the world.

Surround yourself with the kind of people you want to be.

 You will undoubtedly be influenced by them and become more like them than you may realize.



Nastasja Suhadolnik is an attorney working in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs where she advises the United Nations and its subsidiary organs on a variety of legal issues including the mandate and activities of the United Nations, partnerships with the private sector and the resolution of international disputes involving the United Nations.  She has been with the United Nations since April 2012.  Before joining the UN, she worked for a large international law firm in Paris in the area of international commercial and investment arbitration.  She finished her first law degree at the University in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and holds two Master degrees, one in international law from NYU School of Law and the other in international business law from the London School of Economics.  She also holds a degree from the Ljubljana Music and Ballet Conservatory in Slovenia.

Hometown Novo mesto, Slovenia

Age 30

Describe yourself in 1 word... In Slovenian, there is a word my mother and friends used to describe me and I think it fits quite well.  It’s “samovoljna”.  It means having his/her own mind, always trying to do things his/her own way, with a little bit of healthy stubbornness and a strong willpower.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

This question reminds me of a clinical experiment where students were divided into two groups and asked to solve puzzles. In one group the students were offered the choice of a caffeinated or relaxing tea; in the other they were just given one without a choice. The result? On average, the students assigned a tea solved more puzzles than those given a choice. The researchers found that the mere act of having to make a choice can be tiring and bring doubt into our context.

No small surprise that we may find it taxing to make any decisions—but especially difficult ones—even where we know that being able to choose is a privilege in itself.  One of the hardest things I have had to do was decide between mutually exclusive opportunities without the luxury of looking into a crystal ball and knowing what the future would bring.  The decision was that much harder since it involved giving up perceived financial and job security to venture into the unknown in pursuit of a new adventure that would hopefully lead to professional fulfillment and personal growth.  Still, as difficult as that decision may have been, I strongly believe that we perform our best when we let ourselves take risks to pursue a passion, allow ourselves to feel afraid and vulnerable, and recognize that decisions are hard. We need to let our doubts be our advisors, but not masters, as we understand and overcome them through a process of careful self-reflection.

What is the worst decision you made when starting your career?

I am very lucky to have had wonderful mentors who supported me and steered me in the right direction at the very early stages of my career.  I did however make an “almost” worst decision, which could have made my career path very different.  As I was approaching graduation from law school in London, I was so certain that I wanted the “obvious” path of being a lawyer in one of London’s corporate firms (an easy path, as it was one that did not involve taking too many risks).  In my first set of job applications, I only targeted these corporate positions, and I received rejections from most of them.  This made me pause and think about all of the roles and areas of practice that could fulfill my interests and where I could grow as a professional.  The pool was much deeper than I initially thought.  And it was one of those less-than-usual paths that I ended up embarking upon, as a lawyer working at the United Nations, far from the corporate world I once thought was the only option available, and much more in line with my interests and the type of work I actually wanted to do. I’m not saying that working in corporate law first would have been a bad outcome, but rather, that making a decision just because it was the “done thing” would. Question your intentions, broaden your view, and let what resonates speak to you.

Who’s had the biggest impact on you?

My mother, with her genuine kindness and compassion, unlimited determination and willpower, inspiring courage and passion, and her youthful curiosity and playfulness.  She has always supported me in my aspirations, always believed in me and helped me cultivate the strength I needed to achieve my goals while staying true to what I believe in.    

Finish this sentence: You may be surprised to learn that I...trained to become a professional ballerina from a very young age.  Law was never what I planned to study and it came about only by coincidence that I ended up in law school.  The creative yet very disciplined world of professional athletes that young ballerinas are was very formative for me and I believe it is what makes me a better professional.

Wisdom for the Graduating Class of 2016:

Be prepared to look for and seize opportunities even if they do not fit exactly into what you imagined you would be doing as you graduate.

The greater the diversity of your experience, generally, the better equipped you will be to find and then build the path best for you.

In whatever you do, even with the most tedious tasks, try to find that one aspect that you can be passionate about, that speaks to you, that you can see as contributing to your professional or personal growth. And that will help you grow, learn, improve, be a valuable asset for your employer, grow your network, and feel enthusiastic about your work.






Raised in Northern California but now a resident of NYC, Jacqueline Harriet is a fashion and portrait photographer who enjoys shooting colorful subjects in both nature and metropolis. Since graduating last year from NYU, she has photographed for brands and publications including Teen Vogue, NYLON, Diane von Furstenberg, Refinery29, and Nike. 

Hometown Sacramento, California

Age 22

Describe yourself in one word... Hardworking

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

Shooting a photo narrative with a celebrity subject in 90 seconds!

What is the worst decision you made when starting your career?

Lacking confidence in myself (still working on that!)

Who’s had the biggest impact on you?

The photo team at Refinery29. They shaped the way I produce shoots & handle myself professionally!

You may be surprised to learn that I…don’t know how to ride a bike yet!

Wisdom for the Graduating Class of 2016:

Contact the people you admire and ask them questions, not for opportunities necessarily.

 Be eager to listen and synthesize.   




www. SixDegreesSociety.com

Emily, also lovingly referred to as "20 questions" has always loved figuring out people's stories. Born in Florida she moved to Connecticut at age 12. As a middle schooler, she became famous for being Frida Khalo's doppelganger, and after being asked what Latin American country she yielded from she decided to study Spanish and Communications (girl needed to communicate!) at a small Liberal Arts school in Ohio. Upon graduating from Denison University, she moved to Buenos Aires to master her Spanish and worked in various industries. Following her return to New York City, she landed in the Fashion world specializing in Events & Marketing working at Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco, Tory Burch and INTERMIX, until launching her own company, Six Degrees Society.

Hometown New Canaan, CT 

Age 28

Describe yourself in one word... Outgoing 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

Quit my corporate job to start my own company (still haven't looked back)!

What is the worst decision you made when starting your career?

Accepting a job just because it was offered to me. 

Who’s had the biggest impact on you?

My mom! She's always inspired me to follow my dreams and has supported me through all of my crazy adventures. 

You may be surprised to learn that I... moved to Argentina after I graduated college and worked for several start ups. 

Wisdom for the Graduating Class of 2016

It all works out in an unexpected way. 

You are not your job...

Don't lose your identity in your work. 



Instagram: @StarlingProject


Sterling McDavid is the CEO and Founder of The Starling Project, a charitable home candle line that helps provide solar energy to impoverished communities around the world. Inspired by her work in Vietnam for UNICEF, where she is an active UNICEF Next Generation member, McDavid left a career in finance as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York to focus her energies on a meaningful solution to help the less fortunate. 

Prior to launching The Starling Project, McDavid worked at the architecture/design firm Projectiles in Paris.McDavid holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business and is a graduate of the New York Parson's School of Design. 

Committed to her charitable work, McDavid also serves as an active member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Junior Board.

Hometown Fort Worth, Texas

Age 27

Describe yourself in one word... Dedicated

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

Start a business! The idea is sometimes the easiest part. There are so many moving parts when starting a business. Even if you have experience, you can't possibly be prepared for all of the obstacles along the way, so be sure to have wonderful mentors and/or colleagues and peers to help you navigate through the challenges. I am all about doing the research to solve issues on my own, but having other smart, innovative thinkers around has proved to be the best way to discover creative solutions to problems.

What is the worst decision you made when starting your career?

The worst decision I made when starting my career was getting too sucked in to what other people expected me to do rather than doing what I genuinely felt that I wanted and needed to do. (I started my career on Wall Street, but always knew that I really wanted to be a social entrepreneur.) Never disregard your true dreams! They really are possible to achieve!

Who’s had the biggest impact on you?

Without a doubt, my father has been the most influential person in my life. He started his own business at 14 years old and spent decades building it to a large scale business. Not only did he lead by example, but he has always taught me that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. It may sound crazy, but I really do believe that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. My father always says, "The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get!" I think that is true!

You may be surprised to learn that I...speak fluent Polish. (I am not even Polish!).

Wisdom for the Graduating Class of 2016: 

Work harder than anyone around you! People notice, even if you think they don't, and it is important if you want the respect for the duration of your career. 

Be kind.

There is never a reason to be cruel to others. Keep your composure when pressure gets to you. There are few things as impressive as someone who can stay calm in a tense situation.

Let’s Chat!

Now let’s turn the tables: Try answering these questions yourself! Like our contributors, sometimes the best voice to listen to is your own.

About Jessica:


Jessica is the founder of The Brave Collection and a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Recipient.


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