Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
Project Leader: Cris Mercado (Philipines)
It’s ironic that an undocumented immigrant without work authorization would come up with a career app. I designed KeyJargon to be an easy-to-use, free mobile app that features key events, key organizations and industry keywords to boost the employability of young professionals. KeyJargon assumes a simple formula: Who you know + What you know = Employability. “What you know” is addressed through curated keywords that are organized by career areas. KeyJargon tackles “Who you know” by exposing users to events and professional associations where they can connect with industry influencers.
I was inspired to create KeyJargon by my own experience of adapting to different career areas, from Criminal Justice Ph.D. candidate to education professional to entrepreneur. I effectively changed paths because I showed up for industry events, engaged in networking, and was familiar with jargon across industries. KeyJargon was also inspired by my experience as a mentor for 1st-generation college students and my history of helping hundreds of students ascend to college and earn +$1 million in scholarships/grants. Some of them were among the millions of young professionals who are unemployed at greater rates than the general U.S. population and are often unaware of important events and organizations that can boost their careers.
I often feel like much of my potential was wasted because I lack a green card. I was supposed to be an Engineer, as evidenced by my acceptance to New York University’s Material Science/Chemical Engineering degree program. It’s still hard to describe the sense of loss when my scholarships and grants were rescinded because of my undocumented status, just several weeks before I was supposed to start college.
I don’t want any of my former students or mentees to feel like their potential was wasted. That is the underlying purpose that drives my creation of KeyJargon.