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Volunteers Teach Students the Art of Interviewing

Two young professional volunteers interview Hugo Newman Career Essentials students.


On Thursday, May 16th, and Tuesday, May 21st, eighteen volunteers traveled to Futures and Options and to Hugo Newman College Preparatory School in Harlem to hold mock interviews for our Career Essentials students. Both high school and middle school groups had the opportunity to interact with young professionals and learn the best ways to make a great impression in an interview. Our students were in the tenth week of their career-readiness program, and the feedback they received from professional volunteers on interviewing techniques was invaluable. 

In their evaluations of the workshops, students said they learned tips such as not to shake their legs, to maintain eye contact, to watch how many times they say “like” and “um,” to have a firm handshake, and to sit up straight.  They also learned the importance of supplementing their responses with specific examples.  While we teach interview skills in our workshops, nothing is as valuable as practical experience, and that would not be possible without our volunteers.  Thanks again to everyone who came to help, including those from Capital One, GAP, Columbia University and organizations around the city. 


If you are interested in participating in future volunteer events, including mock interviewing or guest speaking or judging the students’ Create-A-Company projects, please contact Matt Ellis at MEllis@futuresandoptions.org.

GAP Welcomes Career Essentials Students

Hugo Newman College Preparatory School students explore the world of GAP.


Both middle and high school Career Essentials students went on two fantastic career exploration field trips to GAP, which enabled them to meet people and learn about careers in the retail industry. Our Futures and Options interns, Virginia Simmons and Deja Jenkins, share their thoughts on this behind-the-scenes view of a hugely successful retail clothing company:

Virginia Simmons, Senior at the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice

On April 11th, our high school Career Essentials students visited the 34th Street GAP. Once we arrived at the conference room, a group of GAP representatives came in and presented us with their names, how long they had worked at the GAP, and a description of their positions. One employee was actually an undercover worker for the Security Department (she dresses casually to make it less noticeable that she is on the lookout for shoplifters); she told us how much she enjoys what she does and “wouldn’t trade it for the world.” As the trip concluded, several students could be overheard saying “the undercover workers are amazing” and “I would love to come back, definitely,” as they walked out the door.

Deja Jenkins, Sophomore at St. Jean Baptiste High School

On May 14th, our Career Essentials middle school students from Hugo Newman College Preparatory School took their own trip to the GAP flagship store on Fifth Avenue, where they explored different types of jobs in the fashion world. Four employees from Security, Marketing and Design, Stocking, and Interviewing gave tours to the students, who were really excited to learn about the different types of jobs available. There were also mock interviews, which gave our students the chance to demonstrate some of the things they learned during Career Essentials. At the end of the visit, GAP surprised the students with Completion Certificates. I could tell that they felt accomplished.  Thanks to GAP Senior Customer Experience Manager Robert Bazayev and everyone at the store for a wonderful trip!



Special Guest Jake Brenner Speaks Out About Making Good Decisions and Avoiding Mistakes

Jake Brenner encourages students to make smart choices.


On Wednesday, May 22, 2013, interns from the School for Community Research and Learning (SCRL) and our Core programs had a visit from a special guest speaker, Jake Brenner, Partner at Marathon Ventures. Jake gave us lessons in decision-making and how to overcome our errors. He reminded us to “try to have a sense that you’re not perfect. People make mistakes.” We were exposed to different ways to approach problems,  acknowledge our mistakes, and improve our relationships with others. All the interns were truly engaged with the videos and games Jake shared because each one was played for a reason. They all had a special lesson at the very end.


One video showed a man playing the violin in the main entrance of a building as many, many people passed him by. Only one woman stood to observe, but didn’t give him any money. It turns out that the violinist was actually Josh Bell, a famous violinist, but no one realized he was famous because of his clothes and his location. We learned from this video to never judge a book by its cover, and always be open to letting people surprise you. Context matters!


In wrapping up, Jake shared another video showing some young people passing a basketball back and forth. He told us to keep track of how many passes the students with the white shirts made.  While they stared so intensely at the video, most of the students didn’t realize that a giant gorilla walked into the middle of the group! Because they were so focused on the basketball, they completely missed this HUGE gorilla! This video demonstrated to us that it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. While it is okay if you miss things, it is important to see the big picture.


Overall, we learned a lot from Jake about decision-making and overcoming our mistakes. Thanks, Jake!


By Stephanie Baichu, George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School Intern

If you are interested in learning about the Futures and Options Internship Program, please contact Rebecca Dougherty at rdougherty@futuresandoptions.org or 212-601-0002.

Welcome to Our New Director of Development!

Chris v2.jpgWe at Futures and Options are excited to welcome Christopher Ellis as our Director of Development. Chris previously spent three and a half years at St. Raymond High School for Boys as Director of Advancement.  During that time, he handled all fundraising, communications, alumni relations and special events for the all-boys Catholic High School in the Bronx. Supervising two outstanding Futures and Options interns in this time was part of what drew Chris to this position at Futures and Options. 

Prior to joining St. Raymond, Chris served as Special Events and Program Director at Junior Achievement of New York, organizing fundraising events and volunteer programs for companies that included PwC, Goldman Sachs, MetLife and TIAA-CREF.  Chris has a Bachelors Degree in Public Relations from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. 


Chris grew up in Yonkers and currently lives in Astoria with his wife, Kelsey.  He is very close with his family, including his younger brother Matt, who is a Program Coordinator at Futures and Options.  Chris is also the founder and race director of the Woodlawn Run for a Cause 5K and is a member of the Woodlean Boys and Girls Club and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year nominating committee.

Meet Our Summer Interns: Anna and KJ

This summer, two fantastic people will be helping the team at Futures and Options!


Anna Headshot 2.jpgAnna Swanby will be joining Futures and Options as our Summer Program Assistant. She is pursuing her Masters of Public Administration, Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy at Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Prior to her studies, Anna was the Executive Assistant to the President & CEO at the New York Urban League. Here she created and implemented the first ever Girls’ and Young Men’s Empowerment Days to connect inner-city youth to leading professionals from various companies including Google, Daily News, CBS and NYPD for a day of mentoring.

Anna has always remained committed to the nonprofit sector volunteering her talents. She was the Founding Co-Chair of Young Professionals for Project Enterprise, a Harlem micro-finance organization. She is also a member of the Young NonProfit Professionals Network and the Phi Beta Kappa Association of New York. Anna graduated magna cum laude from Lafayette College with a BA in International Affairs and a minor in Economics.

KJ Park is joining Futures and Options as a 2013 Summer Intern. KJ KJ.jpgwas born in South Korea and moved to Virginia at age seven. Growing up in America, KJ discovered a passion for swimming. Years of commitment to the sport led him all the way to winning the second place title at the NCSA Junior National Championships in 2010. That same year KJ was recruited to Princeton University, where he is currently a sophomore. KJ is looking forward to working with Futures and Options this summer, and helping out the young people we serve.  



Celebrate and Support at Disco for a Cause

Thanks to the enthusiastic leadership of Scott Stuart, Executive Director of Donlin, Recano & Company, and Futures and Options’ Board member, the Bankruptcy, Restructuring, & Distressed Investing Community will host Disco for a Cause on June 17th at SLATE NYC.


100% of the net proceeds of this fun event will support Futures and Options.  Disco for a Cause is a great chance to network, have fun, and support Futures and Options. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit our Eventbrite page here.


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