‘Light,’ Next Dor STL join to foster young adults’ career building

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

In an increasingly fast-paced vocational environment, young adults sometimes find themselves overwhelmed, underprepared and beset with more questions than answers.

It is a problem Melanie Paticoff wants to help solve.

“We hope that people will not only gain skills for networking and building their careers, but also will make new connections, to reach out of that young adult bubble and learn more about the greater Jewish community as a whole and their resources in the community,” said Paticoff, president of Next Dor STL.

To that end, Paticoff’s group has partnered with the St. Louis Jewish Light to create Opening Dors, a three-part series designed to help young Jewish adults connect with mentors who can help them promote their professional development and networking skills.

Larry Levin, publisher/CEO of the Jewish Light, says: “This is another example of a great collaboration 

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among agencies in our community, where we can bring our combined audiences and missions together to create broader impact. Next Dor is an exceptional partner, and we are privileged to be working with them, thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federation that facilitated the partnership.”

Levin credited Paticoff with “outstanding leadership for this new and exciting program.”

The sessions, set up as panel discussions moderated by young adults, will take place at TechArtista, a Washington Boulevard community space, at 6:30 p.m. on the third Mondays of September, October and November. Each session will include a group of professional thought leaders, a chance for networking and a question-and-answer session.

“In addition to the great partnership with Next Dor, we’re also looking forward to providing programming in the city, where a good number of young Jewish adults live and work,” Levin said. “TechArtista is a terrific shared working environment in the Central West End and is an ideal location for this series that focuses on building both entrepreneurial skills and business connections.”

This month’s topic will be “Everything I Wish I Learned in College,” which will cover a variety of issues from comprehending financial planning to understanding insurance benefits. Panelists will include Sherri Frank Weintrop of Wealth Management Advisors, Lynnsie Balk Kantor of Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate and Brad Snitzer of the Cornerstone Insurance Group.

Next month’s session will examine the importance of entrepreneurship, and November’s panel will take on the best way for someone to market his or her self.

Paticoff said, “I think in this day and age, personal branding is really important because so much of your personal brand is found online.”

The impetus for the event was not a dearth of programming for young adults, but rather a lack of specific efforts geared toward career issues affecting them, she said.

“There is a lot of really strong programming for young adults, but a lot of it is around social events or religious and spiritual events,” Paticoff said. “There are some great things going on with Shabbat dinners and services. The place that we were really identifying the need was with professional development. People are coming here and trying to get their careers on track.”

Paticoff said that failure to address that need can result in a shrinking Jewish community.

“They are trying to move up in jobs and careers, and they sometimes are lacking in those resources,” she said. “That’s why people are sometimes leaving the St. Louis area — because they don’t know that they can move forward. We want to show them that we have the resources here.”