Illana Raia Interview (Part 2)

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In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt interviews Ilana Raia, the founder and CEO of Être – a mentorship platform for girls, and they discuss mentorship, empowerment, and creating opportunities during COVID-19.



VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: That’s amazing. So it sounds like they’ve really gotten opportunities to build relationships over the years. So it’s not just a one time coffee chat transactional thing where maybe a young–

IR: Sometimes you did. Yeah, sometimes it is. I mean, certainly during the pandemic when we switched from in person events. We pivoted right to these mentor popups that were virtual. It’s a different type of relationship that could be a once and done and still hugely impactful 30 minutes of Zoom time. Face to face with an executive is still unbelievably interesting. And we’ll wait to see whether those become the same kind of long standing relationships, but it varies. We have some girls that have formed longer relationships and some girls that just got so much out of the day, then they carry it with them. 

AL: Wow, that’s amazing. And I was going to ask you how you pivoted this model because I know you mentioned face to face and having this longer term relationship. How has COVID impacted these mentoring relationships and how can folks maximize a mentoring relationship during COVID? 

IR: This is a great question. I didn’t really know how we were going to do it. And again, I took most of my direction from the girls. I had a board of girls that are all middle and high school age, and their constant feedback is truly what helped me move in the right direction and pivot when we needed to. Our last live event was in LA in March, right before everything shut down. And we did a mentor event with Tyra Banks, which was incredible. And that was our last live event. From that, we just started reaching out to companies saying, “Would you be willing to speak with us?” We’ll put 20 girls on the Zoom and we’ll do it for 30 minutes. And what we quickly realized was I could put way more than 20 in the room because now the silver lining to this was we could have girls from all over the world instead of being local to where the company was. We could bring in girls from the UK and India and Turkey, and we had girls zooming in from everywhere we did. A website revealed when we turned four. I mean, 100 girls in the room. Some of the pivot was upside because we were able to grow in depth. 

AL: Definitely. And I’m imagining that the girls are part of it. Have a more expanded network of other girls who have different kinds of life experiences, and that’s a value add for everybody as well. 

IR: Absolutely. The diversity, the richness, just a variation of thought and experience in every Zoom, just like on every bus ride, when we would take them live. It’s everything. 

AL: That’s great and I don’t know if there’s anything exciting to share, but I’m curious. Did Tyra Banks have any nuggets of wisdom for the girls that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us? 

IR: She was so amazing. And there’s a bit of a video on our website where you can see it. I think it’s on the “Be Connected” page. She was phenomenal. Nine West reached out to us because she was their spokeswoman of the year, and she wanted to do a mentorship event for International Women’s Day last March. So we had 10 girls in LA, and she wanted to talk really about her experience and lessons that she had been taught. But then she went so much further. She told us that about how she would over-prepare for every meeting and every runway show. She knew everything about the designer, the model he chose, or she chose. She over researched everything. She was fascinating. She talked about what I would like to be the only model of color in a room or being told that she was too tall or she was so authentic and genuine. She could have been every one of these girls’ big sister. She spoke to them with such candor. She was fantastic. If she doesn’t have a mentoring angle to her entrepreneurial endeavor, she really should. She’s made for it. 

AL: Wow, that’s amazing. I’m not into those model shows much, but I always did enjoy catching America’s Next Top Model because she was just a really engaging person to watch. She was accessible in a way that I guess for me, as a non-fashion, non-model following person wouldn’t have expected. So I always enjoyed her feedback and how she aimed to instill confidence in everybody who was coming through. 

IR: She truly did. That’s exactly what she was like in person and exactly how she was with the girls.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.