It was a text from Winston Coffee, Midnight Golf College Liaison & College Success Coach, that encouraged six MGP alumni to enter the Moguls in the Making competition. It was their sheer determination and hard work that allowed all of them to succeed in the three-day business pitch competition.
Kameran Harris (MGP ’19), a junior marketing student at North Carolina A&T State University, was on the winning team and was awarded a $20,000 scholarship and an Ally internship as part of her prize.
“My experience with Moguls was surreal,” Kameran said. “The way everything happened for us. It was just perfect.”
After missing out on internships during COVID, Kameran is looking forward to interning this summer.
In its third year, Moguls in the Making is hosted by Ally and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund with special appearances by Big Sean and Terrance J. Fifty HBCU students, on teams of five representing their HBCUs, competed virtually over three days to pitch a business solution to a Charlotte, NC-based economic problem. Film crews from Revolt TV videoed each team’s progress.
Teams worked for over 72 hours to design their pitch and present it to a panel of judges. The top three teams received scholarships, offers of paid internships at Ally, a laptop and other prizes.
Demetrius Scott, an MGP alum and former mentor, helped plan and execute the event in his role as Manager of Corporate Citizenship at Ally. The MGP participants hold a special place in his heart and he was thrilled to see so many participate.
“For me it’s a dream come true,” he said. “Midnight Golf has done a lot for me professionally and personally so to be able to come back and pour into the next generation of students to help them. For me that’s what Midnight Golf is all about.
“It’s always a pleasure to see MGP students,” he said. “People always come to me and say they’re doing so well.”
He thought the hybrid event, having the presenters and speakers on site in Charlotte and the students together on their respective campuses, worked well.
“The goal is to provide opportunities to students at HBCUs that may not have been given the exposure to larger companies,” Demetrius said. ”This program is created to bridge that gap and bring in diverse talent, ideas and thoughts.”
It is both the ability to network and the confidence to try new opportunities that the Moguls participants credit Midnight Golf with instilling in them.
Morgann Phillips (MGP ’19) was the Howard University team leader.
“I would say it is even more beneficial post program,” Morgann says of her MGP experience. “They’re always exposing me to new opportunities and trying to help me reach my full potential.”
Andre Wilkes (MGP ‘19), also on the team from Howard, agrees and was glad he took on the challenge.
“Moguls in the Making provided a dynamic and vigorous competing experience, but holistically it turned out to be very fruitful in terms of the things you learn about yourself and the private sector,” he said. “I think there were a lot of aspects of the program that felt amplified to me because it was a Black space; meaning it was led, operated, and participated in by Black people. This feature permeates a lot of aspects in the experience because it made me comfortable in the atmosphere and made the environment optimized for learning.”
For Samarion Flowers (MGP ’19), the Moguls in the Making competition was her first time in a competition and she took the opportunity to learn as much as she could.
“I wanted to be a sponge,” she said. “The best advice my team leader gave me was to be as creative as possible.”
Through her MGP experience, Samarion, an urban planning major at Alabama A&M University, learned to be her best self and be comfortable with herself. When Winston pushed her to apply for Moguls in the Making, this confidence allowed her to go for it.
“The highlight for me was doing the research with my team and deciding what we were going to do after we discovered we had to pivot our idea,” Samarion said.
The best thing Morgann, a political science major, gained from the competition is that she feels more confident being an entrepreneur and has ideas of what she can do with her political science degree. She also gained invaluable leadership skills.
As an electrical engineering major at Morgan State University, Kevin Lawrence (MGP ’19) wasn’t sure how he could use his skills in a business competition. The experience allowed him to tap into different skill sets and challenge himself.
“I had to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he said.
Alexis Hobbs (MGP ‘18) was the team lead for Spelman College and she enjoyed the competitive aspect and learning about a new industry.
“I have definitely gained friendships,” she said. “I definitely have a different perspective of the world when it comes to healthcare as that is the industry I was assigned.”
Advice for Younger Students
The universal advice each Moguls participant has for current Midnight Golf students and recent graduates is to network, get to know your mentors, and take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you.
When asked about her advice for younger MGP students, Kameran used the quote “Chances make champions.” She says not to let fear overtake your chances.
Samarion’s advice for younger MGP members is “to remember that even when you stray away that the mentors genuinely love you and they’re going to welcome you with open arms.”
If you recognize your career path may not be linear sooner rather than later, you’ll have a lot more fun planning your career/life’s journey. Also, you must remember you are not only your career, go out and see what life is about! – Andre
“Make genuine connections with the mentors and the students,” Erin advises. “Don’t be afraid to network when you get in Midnight Golf. They stick to their promise when they say they’re with you for life.”
Kevin says, “Take notes and try to apply those skills. Gain relationships with 10-15 of the mentors in the program.”
Don’t be afraid to set out of your comfort zone. As soon as I learned how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, myself and others noticed so much growth in my leadership, friendships and through my internship opportunities. – Alexis
Moguls Brings Opportunity
Erin Martin (MGP ’18) competed in the Moguls in the Making competition in 2019. She credits the connections she made there with launching her success for the past two years. She took Ally’s internship offer and started the Moguls in the Making Alumni Program. In 2020, she mentored the Morehouse University/Spelman College Moguls team.
This summer, through her internship at Ally, she helped launched a Minecraft game called Fintropolis. It is aimed at teaching financial lessons to middle schoolers. The game has over 1 million downloads.
“The last two years every big opportunity has stemmed from that competition,” Erin said. “I tell a lot of the students there are 50 kids here and one team will win. I didn’t place in 2019 but I still won.”
Erin says her Midnight Golf experience is what set her up to be where she is today.
“If we even go back to Midnight Golf I wouldn’t have been to an HBCU,” she said. “They pushed me to explore the options of an HBCU.”
Erin hopes to intern at Ally again this summer and work there after graduation, eventually getting a masters degree in urban planning.
“I love community work and activism and urban planning will allow me to make a difference in my community,” she said.
Sean Anderson Foundation Recognizes Midnight Golf
Midnight Golf was recognized as the 2021 “Don Life” Detroit Nonprofit of the Year by the Sean Anderson Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.