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American Express Lends Talent and Creativity to F+O



This spring, Futures and Options was tremendously fortunate to be selected for the American Express Serve2Gether Consulting Challenge, organized by the Office of Corporate Social Responsibility at American Express and the Taproot Foundation. Serve2Gether Consulting connects selected nonprofits with the company’s top talent who provide pro bono consulting services to address a need within the organization.

Futures and Options was matched with a team of five AmEx employees, who worked with us over 10 weeks to develop a high-level digital marketing strategy designed to grow our model Internship Program. Our consulting team developed a social media campaign, designed to attract small businesses to join Futures and Options Internship Program. As part of the program the team had the opportunity to pitch this idea to the American Express Foundation for potential funding. Thanks to the dedication, energy and great ideas generated through this collaboration, Futures and Options was selected as one of ten organizations (out of 23 organizations participating in the 2014 program) to apply for a generous $25,000 American Express Foundation grant, which will give us the resources to implement this project to grow our digital marketing capabilities and expand our Internship Program.

Futures and Options is deeply grateful to our AmEx Serve2Gether Consulting team: Regina Law, Karla Esleeck, Naishi Zhang, Christine Martin, and VP sponsor David Lowy, for developing a set of marketing outreach goals, strategies and actions to develop new partnerships with small businesses throughout the city. Our team showed an enormous dedication to helping Futures and Options grow, and we deeply enjoyed working with them while learning how to strengthen our outreach.

We’d also like to thank American Express for the opportunity to work with such an innovative and talented team, and for giving us the chance to apply for funding.

BlackRock Expands Partnership
with Futures and Options

This year, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, is building on a history of successful partnerships with Futures and Options by launching a unique Summer Internship Program where high school students can learn firsthand about careers in the financial sector, while experiencing the firm’s commitment to excellence and responsibility.

With this Internship Program, BlackRock is strengthening its investment in New York City’s youth by providing paid, mentored internships for two students. The interns are currently working in different areas at BlackRock, performing research duties as well as assisting with day-to-day operations in business finance.

“Working at BlackRock has taught me the importance of flexibility and adaptability to changing environments and circumstances,” said Amy Lin, a senior at The Brearley School. “Whether such change is within the company’s control or propelled by an outside force, preparation, planning, and the ability to react to the unpredicted are all essential in the financial sector.”

By supporting innovative, emerging programs, BlackRock provides young people around the world with the financial education, mentoring and training needed to build a better future for themselves and their families. 

Futures and Options is tremendously grateful to BlackRock for expanding its partnership with us, and want to recognize and thank the people at BlackRock who are making this program possible this summer:  Managing Director Thomas Wojcik and Managing Director Benjamin Humphreys for spearheading this initiative, and Dilip Hanumara and Mark Schissler for taking the lead on coordinating this summer’s program.

“My favorite part of this internship was working side by side with the wonderful people that make BlackRock what it is,” said Jesus Espinal, a senior at Queens Vocational and Technical High School. “Everybody was friendly and they were always eager to help.”

Spotlight on an Alumni: Chao Chen

Chao researching ULF alumni data.

Even back in high school, I enjoyed wearing suits.  Whether it  was picture day or a class presentation, I never missed an opportunity to dress up. My friends and I frequently discussed where to buy good ties and dress shirts. Dressing up granted me the confidence I needed to make a strong presentation, or meet an important person. When I joined the Urban Leadership Fellows (ULF) program and was told that I should follow a business professional dress code while interning at Barclays I was ecstatic.

Soon enough, I discovered that professional wear is only a small part of the workplace. Sure, everyone dresses professionally, but the real focus was how the new regulation from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board affects different transactions or how the major deals were doing. Everyone was either tirelessly working on projects or collaborating with one another to troubleshoot and come up with solutions for obstacles. For that summer, I was submerged in this highly motivated and galvanizing environment that inspired me to learn more about the Municipal Finance industry and to focus on the tasks that I was assigned to.

During my internship at Barclays, I mostly worked on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Some may consider data entry mind-dulling and sleep-inducing, but I found ways to make it fun for myself. Excel is a very powerful program that not only organizes data, but it also provides the formula function that allows for cool and convenient automation. Whenever my supervisor ran out of work for me to do, I would browse through internet sites for tutorials on Excel formulas. I applied these techniques for tasks at work, and I was rewarded with efficient, automated spreadsheets that even my supervisor found impressive.

My intention for learning Excel, of course, is not to impress others. I recognized that Excel is a universal program with a myriad of applications. Having a strong skill set allows me to openly explore my career options knowing my abilities will be useful in whichever option I settle on. For now, I’ll be exploring my futures and options, and wearing a suit whenever I get a chance. Always wear a suit when you get a chance. 

Kicking Off the Fall Season: How to Apply

While it seems that the summer just began, most of our interns have already wrapped up their summer jobs at companies throughout the city. What does that mean? Another internship season is upon us! We are currently accepting applications for the fall 2014 Internship Program.

What is the Internship Program? The Internship Program is offered continuously throughout the year to juniors and seniors from New York City's high schools. Futures and Options places motivated, talented youth at various corporations, nonprofits and small businesses throughout the five boroughs. Interns receive firsthand experience in varied careers, attend monthly work-readiness workshops and meet for special career development and exploration field trips.

How do I apply? If you are interested in being a Futures and Options intern, first thing’s first: check our list of eligibility requirements to determine if you are qualified to apply.

- Are you a high school student living in New York City?
- Are you 16 or older?
- Are you currently in 11th or 12th grade (beginning September 2014)?
- Do you exit school by 2:30 pm?
- Does your schedule allow you to work 10-15 hours a week after school (not weekends)?

Meet the above requirements? Great! Fill out the internship application on our website, and upload your resume at the end of the application. 

What happens after I apply? You will be asked to participate in a group interview where you will meet Futures and Options staff as well as high school students from throughout the city. After the group interview, you may be selected for an individual interview with a program coordinator who will speak with you more about your interests, experiences and skills.

Questions? Contact senior program coordinator Clare Harwood. She can be reached at 212-601-0002 or charwood@futuresandoptions.org.

Shop at AmazonSmile for Your
Back-To-School Supplies

You can buy your school supplies on AmazonSmile and support Futures and Options, too! Simply visit https://smile.amazon.com/, log into your Amazon account and type “Futures and Options” into the search bar. After selecting Futures and Options, Amazon will now donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Futures and Options.

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