Diversity & Inclusion

How Nasdaq Is Helping Students Get Ahead with Year Up

Jakayah Maxwell

How Nasdaq Is Helping Students Get Ahead with Year Up

One of the phrases Jakayah Maxwell likes to live by is to “lift while you climb.”

When she joined Year Up, a program designed to equip young adults with professional and technical skills companies need, she experienced the lift. After completing her six month internship at Nasdaq via Year Up, she was hired full-time. Today, she is a senior marketing associate at Nasdaq looking to help other students do just the same.

Year Up is aimed at closing the Opportunity Divide across companies in the US, with the premise that talent is spread evenly across the country while opportunities are not. Nasdaq is among the companies taking part in this movement to help students start careers and reach their potential.

We spoke with Maxwell about her experience with the program and how she plans on giving back to other students.

What is the most rewarding part of Year Up?

The most rewarding part of Year Up is the feedback culture because it stems from support, encouragement, and teaching not just how to handle, but to receive constructive feedback. It awards you the chance to prove that you have what it takes to do the job and beyond – it’s on you to apply yourself. Year Up helps reinforce to corporates the benefits of a think tank employee base, where people across different backgrounds work best when it comes to innovation; I enjoy seeing ways that Nasdaq embraces this philosophy.

What future do you see for yourself at Nasdaq?

Nasdaq and the supportive team player culture has influenced & inspired my decision to pursue continuing my education up to the MBA level as well as other certifications that are of interest to me. I see myself continuing to grow and develop these new skills in tandem with the company growing and changing markets – I love that there’s always something new going on here. It keeps me on my toes.

To those thinking about applying for Year Up, what would you advise?

I would advise those applying to Year Up definitely to maintain a positive outlook on the opportunities that exist and that are out there for you. Year Up provides the knowledge and skills, both hard and soft skills, necessary for growth; in particular, they address the ways to help minority youth fill these roles and close the opportunity divide between open jobs and possible candidates that just need a chance to shine. 

Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 years? Has that changed since Year Up?

Professionally, 10 years from now, I see myself managing a team and that is something that has changed since Year Up. I have always been the person to want to take on projects as a way to ensure the little details are executed. Nasdaq has pushed me to want more because the company is not complacent – we’re trailblazers.

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Lyanne Alfaro


Lyanne is a producer, host and social media strategist at Nasdaq. Her team helps reimage the way Nasdaq tells stories about Nasdaq’s role in the future of technology via video, podcasting and social content. You can find her on social media @LyanneAlfaro

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