Students attend Career Day 2019

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Career Day took place on March 22, during which presenters engaged with and informed students about their professions. Each student was scheduled to attend 35-minute presentations on three different occupations.

The purpose of Career Day is to prepare students for entering the workforce by educating them about potential career paths they can follow. Suseel Thomas, an electrical engineer and a presenter at this year’s Career Day, stated, “[Students] can get exposed to many different careers, therefore, they can make better choices based on their knowledge.” Students can use this knowledge, along with an understanding of what their interests are, in order to pursue an educational path that enables them to undertake the career of their choosing.

Like previous years, presenters from a wide range of careers were included in this year’s roster. Freshman Kate Romero attended presentations given by an engineering manager, a funeral director, and a senior commerce editor at Buzzfeed. Sophomore Nafsa Raisa was scheduled to see a comedian, global diversity coach, and school psychologist. Among the other professions represented during Career Day were: airport customs service manager, banker, diversity executive coach, pediatrician, public relations worker, and United Nations (UN) representative.

With an assorted pool of presenters speaking throughout the day, students were able to learn more about various careers. Senior Jessica Wang learned about the workings of the Marine Corps and remarked, “I thought it was pretty cool how the Marine Corps wasn’t just combat-based and that there are so many other civilian jobs you could take instead.” Junior Kailey Van stated that one of her presenters, a physician assistant, discussed the expansive skill set necessary for his job and how this skill set compared to those of other positions in his workplace.

Not only did students learn about the technical aspects surrounding these careers, they also gained insight on the path that leads one to be successful in his or her future occupation. Senior Daniel Singh said, “I found that school clubs such as the Model UN can very much help your careers, as seen with the United Nations Diplomat.” Sophomore Anika Rahman reflected, “From the pediatrician, I learned to look for scholarships[,] talk to my college advisor[,] do internships in the summer [and] apply for my dream schools. From the banker, I learned to not be set in one career so early and to explore what I’m interested in. I also learned that is important to dream and there will always be highs and lows in a career.”

Kailey commented, “I personally feel that the Business Development presentation was the most memorable because the speaker told us about his personal experience, which consisted of many twists and turns, but ultimately resulted in him discovering his dream job. His story definitely inspires students to pursue their dreams without fear.”

“I learned from Mrs. [Nan] Ng (Engineering Manager) that it’s not just about the grades,” Kate recounted. “All that matters is the passion and interest you have in the career you’re in. With that passion and mental drive, you can strive to never give up and eventually achieve your goals.”

Interestingly, many presenters this year were THHS alumni. Among them was Peggy Tsai, a THHS class of 1997 alumna and current data analyst at Morgan Stanley. “I think it is important for graduates of Townsend Harris to really give back to the students, and I really feel that I can give them a perspective on what they can be doing during high school and after high school,” she said.

Andrew Mitchel, THHS alumnus and researcher, commented on how THHS impacted his life after high school leading up to his pursuit of a career. “[THHS] was a very challenging academic environment, and it pushed me to do better. I knew what colleges expect,” he said.

Alumni presence at this year’s Career Day was highlighted by the establishment of a new alumni career panel, which was organized by the Townsend Harris Alumni Association (THAA) and consisted of a group of alumni representing a diverse array of professional fields. The panelists included: Adrianna Mateo, class of 2008 alumna with a background in music and arts; Gary Mellow, class of 1990 alumnus, member of the THAA Board of Directors, and co-chair of the THAA’s mentoring committee who represented a financial occupation; Joy Pratcher, class of 1995 alumna with a legal and entrepreneurial background; and Bill Rettig, a parent who represented a career in education and consulting.

According to Dr. Selina Lee, class of 1998 alumna and co-president of the THAA, the decision to incorporate an alumni panel this year stemmed from the goal of the THAA’s mentoring committee to “[establish] programs and tools, which would help connect the current students to the alumni base.”

Irina Kimyagar, PTA Liaison of the THAA Board of Directors, and Mr. Mellow brought up the idea of hosting an alumni career panel during a THAA board meeting held on January 9. “Having a panel would be one of the ways to connect [alumni] resource[s] to the students since the experiences and stories presented by the graduates of the same school would be better heard and perceived as valuable guidance for them to help them decide what career path to take and what to take into consideration in achieving it,” remarked Ms. Kimyagar.

After conferring about when and how the panel would be held, “It was finally agreed upon that having it at Career Day (so that all students can elect to go during school time) and representing different careers (because not everyone knows exactly what their career interests are yet) would benefit the most students,” Dr. Lee revealed. Ms. Kimyagar and Dr. Lee proceeded to propose the idea to Assistant Principal Veronica York, who voiced her support for the panel. “She immediately had great ideas like putting the panel in the auditorium and how we could make the panel attractive to the students to sign up for the panel,” Dr. Lee said.

“We hope to hear more feedback of what the students and administrators thought of the panel (you can email us at mentoring@thaa.org or speak to Ms. York),” said Dr. Lee. “If the feedback is favorable, we first want to have a discussion with Ms. York and her team to access the feasibility of having the career panel next year and even years after that.”

Overall, most students seemed to agree that Career Day was helpful in educating them about the workforce. “Although students are able to research different fields on their own, it is a completely different experience to meet a person face to face and have a discussion about the field of interest,” expressed Kailey. “All of the speakers were very interesting and knowledgeable about their field of work. They gave us a very detailed description of their occupations, which certainly deepened our understanding of each individual career,” she said. Kate added, “Seeing the love for their jobs truly convinces me that what they’re saying is genuine.”

Daniel noted that although the presentations students were assigned to attend may not have been for careers that they would want to pursue, “We [got to] see the career paths of many accomplished individuals, and this can help us as we begin our [own] career journeys.” Nafsa agreed with this sentiment and pointed out, “What they tell you about the [workforce] system is definitely something you should think about.”

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