About Us

250x250 A - Blue Gradient@3x-FCC.png

Early Stage Careers' career coaches are not only experienced in the art of launching students and young professionals into flourishing careers, but founders Lesley Mitler and Jill Tipograph are also parents of millennials who have been, and are still going through, the process of building their own professional lives. So they have a unique perspective on what both parent and student are going through during this difficult transition, and the means to get everyone through to the other side successfully.

Lesley Mitler


In 2009, after more than 20 years as a successful executive recruiter, Lesley Mitler founded Priority Candidates and shifted her focus from placing established professionals to helping recent college graduates transition into careers. Since she had so much experience placing senior level executives, she was uniquely poised to advise younger applicants on how to look at their career in the long term. She works closely as a career coach with our young adult clients to navigate the multiple steps needed to get hired. Lesley graduated from Duke University with a BA in management science and accounting, and started her career as a CPA.


Jill Tipograph

Jill Circular 300x300.jpg

Jill Tipograph has been a nationally recognized youth expert and educational consultant for more than 20 years, and she is a professional member of the IECA and NACAC, and a selected certified member of the Forbes Coaches Council. Jill is the founder of Everything Summer, a boutique consultancy service that guides families through the summer planning and enrichment process for their children, from elementary school through early college. Given her experience helping young students and their families design the right summer and school-year experiences, Jill organically began aiding these students in their transition into young professionals. She teamed up with Good Morning America’s Tory Johnson to produce the Career Boot Camp NYC for new graduates. Jill works directly with our clients as a career coach, and manages the business and operations sides of Early Stage Careers. Jill holds both a BA in Psychology, and an MBA in Marketing from New York University, and was formerly a marketing executive in both corporations and advertising agencies.

Sarah Birdsong
career assessment specialist | transition & life coach

Sarah is a certified executive coach from the ICF accredited Center for Executive Coaching. She is a career assessment specialist, focusing on assessments for people beginning their careers. She is certified to provide these specific assessments, evaluate results and channel job direction.  Additionally, she specializes in career coaching, guiding career and life focus, for people in a career transition phase. Sarah is a strategic partner with Early Stage Careers, determining how a person fits within an organization and helping clients match their natural talents to work they love. She brings 15+ years of internal and external executive recruiting experience, most recently as a senior consultant to the office of the CEO for Korn Ferry. Additionally, she has experience in academia in both Development and Undergraduate Admissions. She holds a BA in Psychology and a MEd in Counseling with a specialization in Higher Education from the University of Virginia. 

Cheryl Lambert
interview skills specialist

Sheryl Circular (New).jpg

As a communications expert, Cheryl provides interview skills training power sessions for Early Stage Careers clients. In addition, Cheryl teaches presentation skills at Fortune 500 firms as well as not-for-profits. Previously, she held top-level executive positions on Wall Street where she was responsible for creating processes that developed talent and increased responsibility for 600+ personnel. Having interviewed countless individuals, she knows what it takes to have a winning interview. Cheryl completed Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development and earned her BA at Rutgers University. She served as Chairman of Boys Town NY Board of Directors, and created and leads a workshop at the Center for Employment Opportunity in New York City. 

Judy Panagakos
career coach


Judy is a 30+ year Human Resources executive who spent her career at JP Morgan Chase. She coaches our clients to create customized and well-executed career decisions, helping them best position their educational and leadership experiences in a manner relevant to today’s employers. Her senior roles as the Head of Recruiting, global onboarding and off boarding across a spectrum of departments, as well as counseling employees, helps students and young grads successfully navigate the job search process and the corporate environment.  Judy has recruited college students for internships and training programs, and served as an advisor to employees through all stages of the career lifecycle. At JP Morgan Chase, she worked with thousands of candidates and hiring managers to find the best fit jobs, and counseled employees on making internal transitions.  She has reviewed thousands of resumes and cover letters personally from Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD and experienced professionals. Judy is a graduate of Lehigh University with a BA in Economics/Urban Studies and has a Master’s in Information Science from Rutgers University. 

Pamela Weinberg
personal branding strategist/early career coach

Pamela Weinberg Headshot.jpg

Pamela is a Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC). She works with our early careerists, coaching them to reach their career goals and create their personal branding strategies. Pamela also speaks frequently to groups at colleges and universities, corporations, and professional associations. She has 12+ years of coaching experience working with the millennial population. Pamela began as a coach in the career management offices of NYU-SCPS and the NYU Wasserman Center. She is a graduate of Brandeis University, and earned a certificate in career management and development from NYU. Pamela is a mentor for Edge4Vets and a member of the President’s Society Advisory Council for LaGuardia Community College.

Jody Small

outreach & client advisor

Jody Small circular.jpg

Jody manages our media and corporate outreach, communicating our expertise and building broader awareness of our services and programs. She also works with the coaches to support our clients. Jody is an Emmy Award winning journalist and producer with experience in news broadcast and museum & educational productions. Often described as a problem solver and outstanding communicator, she has run a successful production company for more than 20 years. Jody has collaborated with thought leaders in the Higher Education space working closely with college students, professors, and administrators gathering information and reporting stories from campuses across the country. She also advised her own sons through the college entrance and internship process to successful careers in engineering and analytics. She has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University.

Shana Greenblatt Janoff
client services

Shana helps manage each step of the Early Stage Careers process for every client, to ensure that schedules and deadlines are met. She assists in identifying ‘right fit’ internship and job opportunities for clients. Shana’s background in education includes: trustee to the Board of Education, creating learning and experiential opportunities for students as they rise from classroom to career; she helped create the first-ever Parent Guidance Committee, offering parents and students a forum for dialog and understanding of student emotional growth.  A parent of two adult children, Shana has personally navigated the process of college and career readiness. 
Shana received a BA in English from Boston University.  

Jake Schwartzwald
communications & administration

Jake maintains the Early Stage Careers website and systems; helps design, produce, and curate Early Stage Careers' digital content and communications; and brings a millennial perspective to the Early Stage Careers team. He has experience in communications and non-profit work. Jake is available to work with clients directly who are seeking to strengthen their social media skills for the workplace. This service is available on a request basis. Jake graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in Theatre.

The job search, interpersonal, and career management skills I learned through working with them helped me succeed far beyond my first job.
— Sean C., George Washington University