Advice for New Students

Jenkins '15 describes steps he took to build success
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Post-graduation success for many ILR students often begins with building a dynamic university experience.

Nomathade “Chris” Jenkins ’15 is an ambitious planner, multitasker and networker. For him, the future — and what he does today to shape his destiny — has been at the epicenter of his Big Red experience.

“I have continually researched the vast opportunities, weighed the pros and cons, and mapped out the next steps to be successful. I continually push myself and say, ‘I’m going for it.’”

The son of retired police officers, Jenkins has been involved in many activities. He has served as president of the Minority ILR Student Organization, a Student Ambassador providing ILR students with mentoring and peer coaching, and has been involved with Greek fraternity management.

Jenkins is the first recipient of the Virginia Freeman Memorial Prize, established this year in recognition of ILR’s longtime registrar. The prize honors qualities such as selflessness, responsibility and integrity.

As a high school student growing up in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., a suburb of New York City, Jenkins contemplated pre-med or nutrition study, but changed his mind after a Cornell campus tour. “I saw ILR’s strength in the social sciences with the business area as a match for me.”

“Once here, I got engaged and developed a rapport with other students, establishing supportive networks,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of close friends, some from freshmen year — networks make a difference.”

“My parents used to encourage me not to push myself too hard,” said Jenkins, who seems to be in perpetual motion. “Even now, as I plan to work at Ernst & Young, I’m thinking about how I can work toward an MBA.”

Jenkin’s internship experience at Morgan Stanley allowed him to sharpen his skills and experience what the world of work offers.

“Working in different environments and using the softer skills of interacting with others — recruitment, talent management and corporate relations — added value to my skills and gave me more credibility,” he said. “Freshmen should know how important soft skills are in any interest they pursue.”

“The biggest inspiration for me at Cornell is definitely the student body,” he said, citing the passion of other students in directions they have chosen.

“The Cornell environment creates a lot of positive energy, where you dig in, take risks and make things happen.”

Engagement with other academically-invested students incubated an ethos of multidisciplinary success skills he gladly shares with younger students.

“Negotiate, take on leadership and public relation roles, get the right mix of work experience, leadership experience, the right courses and networks with upper classmen and practitioners,” said Jenkins. “Broaden your thinking and find out what alumni in your interest areas are doing.”

“I’m grateful that, at ILR, I’ve been able to build relationships, and I’ve received a lot of help,” he said, believing now is his time to pay it forward. “I’ve turned that helpful experience around to helping others.”