Hoos in Education #5: Isabel Argoti
Program Manager, Career Mentoring | Collegiate Directions, Inc. (CDI)
B.S. in Architecture, Class of 2016
Our Education & Youth Development CPE Kirstena talked with UVA alum Isabel Argoti about her path to working in the nonprofit sector and her advice for students considering EYD careers.
Some of Isabel’s biggest accomplishments at UVA include being a Lawnie during her 4th year and co-founding the Alpha Rho chapter of the Sigma Lambda Upsilon sorority. As a co-founder, Isabel served in several leadership positions and spent lots of time running the new organization as well as making bonds within the sisterhood. She was also involved in the LADYS mentorship program through her sorority, which supports young women of color in the Charlottesville community with their college and career preparation.
Having dedicated a lot of time during college to engaging in community service, Isabel knew she wanted to work where she could serve people directly after graduation. She first landed in Colorado where she worked on community outreach for the National Park Service. This role gave her the opportunity to utilize her background in architecture as it pertained to working within the physical space of the parks, while also harnessing her passion for serving others. Isabel later transitioned to working for the Every Kid Outdoors program in Washington, DC, which is a federal initiative that provides free access to national parks for fourth graders. Isabel worked on the administrative side of the program, analyzing data behind the scenes to increase access to outdoor spaces for youth.
In 2018, Isabel joined Collegiate Directions, Inc. (CDI), a nonprofit in Maryland, as a Program Assistant. At the time, she knew she wanted to gain experience working in a nonprofit setting, and she had previously gone through the CDI program as a high school student, which attracted her to the role. Isabel later transitioned into her current position within CDI when she became the Program Manager for the organization’s new Career Mentoring program. The task of leading a new program offered Isabel a lot of flexibility for putting her vision of the program into action. Isabel relied on her training from the Architecture School, which gave her the confidence to think creatively and build something from scratch that would meet the needs of CDI students. Today, the Career Mentoring program supports CDI participants beginning when they enter college and connects them with vetted mentors to help the students establish a professional network. The program also partners with companies and recruiters to provide skills training related to professionalism and other skills needed to navigate the world of work after college. Promoting the acquisition of social capital connects CDI students with knowledge and resources that may not be available through their existing social networks and helps them be successful in college and beyond.
Isabel offered a great piece of advice that reflects her own experience with majoring in Architecture and going on to work in the nonprofit sector: Don’t be afraid to take a nontraditional path! Having unique experiences might just be what makes you stand out from other professionals in the future. All of the skills and experiences you gain can be applied to future pursuits in some way.
If you’re interested in learning more about Isabel’s story and the work she does, you can connect with her through Virginia Alumni Mentoring!