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High school students, industry leaders connect at 5th annual CareerCon

The 5th Annual Staten Island CareerCon at St. John’s University in Grymes Hill was another success as hundreds of high school students spent the morning weaving through tables exploring career and internship opportunities from various businesses and organizations.

“It was a fun event, and I learned many different things. I thought I wanted to be an engineer, but now after hearing about the different careers – especially the ones discussed in the 21st Century Jobs of Tomorrow presentation – I see there’s a diverse group of careers that I could be interested in,” said New Dorp High School junior Alec Litvin. “It was great to be introduced to so many careers.”

Litvin’s experience sums up the objective of CareerCon which is designed to introduce students to various career and college pathways while giving business owners and hiring managers an opportunity to meet and engage with the future of Staten Island’s workforce.

The Carl V. Bini Foundation, Partners in Sound Productions, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, the NYC Department of Education’s Staten Island Field Office, St. John’s University, Wagner College, and the College of Staten Island teamed up to host the event that attracted over 700 students from the borough’s public high schools plus 75 industry leaders.

“In today’s world of work and career exploration, skill development needs to start much earlier than high school graduation. Events like CareerCon help give students the tools they need to navigate the many options open to them,” said Jocelyn Coalter, Director of Career Services at St. John’s University, Staten Island Campus. “CareerCon is such a unique event and it wouldn’t be possible without the partnership between St. John’s, the NYC DOE, the Chamber and many other organizations. St. John’s is proud to have been an integral part of this amazing event for the last four years, and we are already looking forward to next year.” 

In addition to the connections and information shared inside the SJU gymnasium, CareerCon also featured 45-minute workshops and panels around the campus relating to resume building, civil service, healthcare, business, MBK Fellows and Ambassadors, The Real Deal: What College Life is Really Like, and 21st Century Jobs of Tomorrow.

Presenters had the chance to educate the student audience about their fields and answer questions. During one of the 21st Century Jobs of Tomorrow discussions, panelists stressed the need for internships, volunteering, or working at a part-time job to gain experience.

 “CareerCon is an event where our high schools come to one location and learn together. Our student feedback showed technology as the number one request, so our 21st Century Jobs of Tomorrow panel brought in representatives from large companies like Google, Spotify, and Amazon,” said Jennifer Shanks-DeRenzi, instructional technology director for the Staten Island NYCDOE Borough Office. “The panelists were able to connect with our students and give them advice on working in the field. We love being able to work on this event for our students to introduce them to new career pathways and internship opportunities!”

 “It’s awesome that students as young as sophomores and juniors in high school have the chance to see what’s being offered to broaden their horizons. It’s a good opportunity for them to get a head start looking at what they’re interested or passionate about,” said Sasha Sawh, an admissions counselor from Plaza College.

“I received a lot of information on different jobs available, especially in my own community. I thought I knew which opportunities I would pursue, but this opened the door to a lot more,” said Susan Wagner High School junior Anthony Nuccio.

Andrew Mucaria, a council representative for the New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters, added, “Overall, this a good event for us to attend. We’ve been here all five years. It’s nice to see that there’s a group of kids that aren’t so worried about going directly to college and can learn about other options out there.”

 “It’s really good to show the students that there are careers in the arts. They may not know there are jobs in that field and they should be aware you don’t have to look outside the arts,” said Amanda Ferrandino, marketing manager for ET Studio Productions. “Everything that we do – whether it’s going to the movies or listening to music – there’s a business behind it.”

“I came here open minded to see what catches my eye,” said Yudith Viruel, a junior at Tottenville High School. “I learned about different job opportunities especially after I met the representatives from Amazon and Aflac.” 

To learn more about CareerCon, which received additional support from United Activities Unlimited, 30,000 Degrees, Transition and College Access Center, and the College of Staten Island, visit http://careerconsi.wixsite.com/careerconsi.

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