If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.  A phrase that we’ve all heard time and time again.  But what if you don’t know what you love to do? Or what you love to do won’t make you any money?  The programs that help young people find careers that are meaningful are few and far between, but they are out there!  That is what we try to do here at NYCID with the Learning to Work program.  Connect students with a career path that will help them thrive throughout the rest of their lives.


NYCID signed up more than 50 students from the NYCID schools Concord High School, Olympus Academy, and the Staten Island Young Adult Borough Center(along with trying to save the program as a whole).  These students took the initiative to better themselves, and prepare for their future by signing up.  


After weeks of preparing the day had finally arrived. The moment students, teachers and business owners had been waiting for.  I’m talking about NYCID’s virtual Learning to Work orientation of course!  Everyone was anxious to get started at 5:00 PM on October 29th.  Although the LTW orientation was virtual this year, you could still feel the excitement radiating from everyone on the Zoom call.  


The call started off with NYCID’s own Michael Devito Jr. giving participants a run down on what the program would be and how they could best take advantage of it.  How they apply, the level of commitment they need to give   With the Maximum of working 15 hours a week at $15 an hour students need to maximize their potential in order to make the most money.  Students are also encouraged to “stack credentials” not only to make the most money in the program but also to best prepare themselves for the future and help figure out what they love to do. 


Theresa Doyle who is the career developer and grant writer for the SIYABC said credential stacking is helpful to students for multiple reasons because “first it helps students learn what they love and don’t love, and in doing so gives students an idea what careers they may wish to explore by way of additional post-secondary education/training. Second, stacking recognized credentials encourages hiring managers to respond favorably to a potential candidate by showcasing specific skills/credentialing/training desired by the specific employer. Third, Stackable Credentials give students a sense of pride and accomplishment when they complete a credential, and especially when they see it on their resume; confidence is key, especially for folks with little to no work experience. Fourth, Stackable Credentials really allows the student to be better prepared than their same age/same education counterparts. Fifth, and especially in this time of COVID, it demonstrates that students are committed to personal and professional growth, and refuse to let lockdowns get in the way of their professional goals and personal growth.”



The first presenter from day one was Monet Rankins from Workforce 1.  Rankins spoke about the many opportunities that Workforce 1, an organization that is free to all residents of New York City and helps people over the age of 18 build skills that will land them careers.  Workforce 1 has two portions that they can cover for our NYCID students, the first is career development.  In the career development portion students can build tangible skills that will help students build their resumes.  These skills can be used in the second portion that Workforce 1 offers which is working with recruiters.  Workforce 1 is partnered with many organizations across all five boroughs of New York City including Amazon, Chick-fil-a, and Burlington Coat Factory.  So many great options.  After Rankins was finished with her portion, Emmaneul Bloomfield-Jones spoke representing the Office of Workforce Development and Innovation at the College of Staten Island.


Bloomfield-Jones showed the many training options and certifications offered by CSI that would help our young people build skills in less than a year and get started in fields that really make a difference.  Rather than earning a bachelor or associates degree this office students can be trained in things like business, social services, or health care.  While these certifications and courses can do a lot of good for our students, There is also an option for students who want to go to college in a traditional sense, and they can do it right here in Staten Island.  After Bloomfield Jones was Sean Walsh, representing the admissions office at CSI.  Walsh spoke about how a four year degree could benefit the students, and that CSI is not a community college.  They offer from associate degrees all the way to doctorate degrees.  Walsh also spoke about how using grants to cover the cost of education could be a good option for many.  Walsh spoke about the science programs, arts and business programs at CSI and closed, answering student questions.  After Walsh there was only one more presenter before we closed out day 1.  


To finish day 1 was Brian Licata, representing The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and their Coursera classes that they are offering completely free.  Coursera is a database of courses from many different companies including Google and IBM.  The Chamber of Commerce has hand selected courses that students have the opportunity to try and learn whether or not they are interested in a certain topic.  They are free so there is no risk and a high reward, gaining knowledge from multiple sources.  This is the credential stacking that was mentioned earlier in this article.  If students take advantage of as many opportunities as they can, they will be better prepared when they leave NYCID.  After Licata finished DeVito closed out day 1 and everyone rested up, excited to get started on day 2.


Day 2 started off strong with DeVito recapping how the students could best utilize all of the opportunities to their advantage and reiterated how important it is that students stack as many credentials as they can.  That is how students will maximize the amount of money they will receive from the program while also gaining the most skills and knowledge.  Next Theresa Doyle stepped in to recap the courses that CSI was offering that would help students get certified in healthcare, technology, and social service fields in less than a year.  After that the first guest speaker was Claire who was there to help get students interested in OSHA 30 certification.


The OSHA 30 certification will get our students ready to work on construction sites and after a couple years experience they will be making six figures if they join a union.  For LTW participants who are interested in a future in construction they have to complete 30 hours of training to be able to work on a construction site.  The training will use virtual reality to teach students how to properly put on their harness and other gear, and will simulate what it would be like to work at the high heights of a construction site.  Definitely a great way for students to figure out whether they would want to be in the construction industry.  


Next up to the plate for day 2 was Ed DeJesus with his social capital training.  His program is all about students leveraging the connections they already have, while also making new ones that can be used to help build a career.  It’s not just about networking, it’s about building strong relationships that will last.


DeJesus said he wanted to participate in the Learning to Work program because he sees “a lot of workforce development efforts skip the social capital element.  They may teach networking, but beyond that they don’t get into the intricacies of social capital building, which is much different than networking.  It’s about building relationships.  When I found out about all the partners involved, if every young person develops a relationship with one of those partners could you imagine how their lives would be transformed?  Not immediately, but over the next three or four years as they mature into adulthood, and have relationships with people who have these resources.  I think that’s what people miss.  It’s not about connection rates lead to placement rates.  As our young people are maturing and making changes in their lives, it’s not about ‘how do I get into college?’ They can say ‘oh I have a connection at the College of Staten Island! Let me use my social capital’



DeJesus also had students participate in hypothetical interview scenarios and examples of how much money they would make over the course of their life if they had a degree, and how their social capital would help them.


After DeJesus was Bruce Weiss representing Guardian Group Services, which gives students the chance to be trained and certified as a security guard.  Weiss mentioned that working security is not a regular 9-5 job, students would need to be open to working nights and weekends if they wanted to be successful in this field.  Another great opportunity for students to dip their feet into a certain career path and find out if it is the right way for them.  


Last but not least for day 2 was Irene Nikhamov who would be giving the students info on her company Selectpop.  Selectpop is a recruiting company that would help students with their resume and help them get connected with companies that are looking to hire.  You can see how through all of these programs students can figure out, through working, what will be the right path for them in life.


To close out the orientation DeVito stepped in again to remind students that they will get out of the LTW program what they put in.  The 15 hours of work that they are allowed must be filled with productive activity that will further their career journey.  He also reiterated that credential stacking was the best way to maximize the number of hours they work and would make them the most prepared when they eventually leave the program.  We here at NYCID are so excited to see what our students do in the Learning to Work Program and beyond! Our students have the potential to reach the stars!