career-exploration-month-logoThe Morning Bell team visited two City high schools in January to see examples of what school communities across the City are doing to celebrate Career Exploration Month, the Department of Education’s citywide effort to help high school students identify and pursue their career interests. For career planning tips for high schoolers, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

. . .

“Does anyone have any questions about what I do? Who wants to start?”


Warby Parker’s Karina Ruzinov talked about what life could be like for these software engineering students after college. (Photo credit: DOE)

At first, none of the ten students in attendance wanted to raise their hand in response. Each of the young software engineers, all of whom were members of an Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE) junior advisory group, glanced around to see which of them would be the first to break the ice.

Karina Ruzinov, a software engineer and NYC resident, had just finished giving the juniors a brief rundown of her work at Warby Parker, the online eyeglass retailer. After getting word that the Department of Education had designated the month of January as Career Exploration Month, Ms. Ruzinov volunteered to speak with AFSE students about her work. She knew that she could provide young engineers with great insight about her profession, and she worked with AFSE’s college guidance counselor, Suzanne Zeitlin-Mellor, to make all the necessary arrangements for a visit.

After about 20 seconds of awkward silence following Ms. Ruzinov’s presentation, one of the students finally kicked off a Q&A session with Ms. Ruzinov.

“How did you get good at your job?”

Then another question was blurted out.

“What is your work life like?”

And another.

“Do you have free time?”

And others, still.

“Are you able to get sleep?”

“How many other women do you work with?”

“What were your college classes like?

Is there anything that you feel we MUST learn in order to be prepared for jobs in the industry?”


Ms. Rusinov (left) and AFSE College Counselor, Suzanne Zeitlin-Mellor (right) (Photo credit: DOE)

Suddenly, all signs of the timidness that had been on display before had vanished; after a bit of priming, these students were engaged and ready to hear all they could about Ms. Ruzinov’s work and lifestyle. Right at that moment, they had the opportunity to speak with someone who could connect everything they learned about coding throughout high school with the kinds of careers that could be open to them after college.

Ready for their queries, Ms. Ruzinov answered every question thoughtfully and thoroughly. By the end, it seemed as if she had helped some of the juniors in attendance make decisions about whether they were going to stick with software engineering after graduation.

For this group of AFSE students, Ms. Ruzinov’s visit could not have been timed any better, as her guidance could prove especially useful once they begin to apply for colleges next year.

We thank Ms. Ruzinov for volunteering her time on behalf of AFSE’s students, and we wish this AFSE group tremendous success throughout the second half of the school year!

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If all the world’s a stage, then surely we must watch out, because students at Robert F. Wagner Jr. High School in Queens are going to take ALL the parts.

In celebration of Career Exploration Month, select Wagner students got the unique opportunity to learn more about the people and organizations that power the bright lights behind Broadway’s theater industry. Their experience began with a tour of the Broadway League office in Manhattan, where they met Ms. Rachel Reiner, director of audience engagement for the Broadway League, and Mr. Charlie Flateman, senior vice president of marketing for the Shubert Organization. Ms. Reiner provided the students with an overview of Broadway and the theater industry as a whole, while Mr. Flateman discussed some of the ways that hit Broadway shows are marketed to the public.


The Wagner students were all ears during their visit at the Broadway League (Photo credit: Richard Rosen, NYC Center for Youth Employment)

After their stop at the Broadway League, the students walked over to the Longacre Theatre, one of Broadway’s most iconic and classic playhouses, for an exclusive tour of the 104-year old structure. Once the tour was over, the students assembled in the Longacre’s orchestra section near the main stage to hear from a few of Broadway’s influencers and creators, including Sue Frost, producer and founder of Junkyard Dog Productions, Aaron Lustbader, partner and general manager of Foresight Theatrical, Leslie Barrett, vice-president of business engagement for Serino Coyne, and Anna Louizos, set designer for a number of Broadway productions, including School of Rock and Holiday Inn. Each speaker provided the assembled students with some details about their lives, careers, and day-to-day responsibilities, and the students listened and took notes.


Each speaker who arrived at the Longacre Theatre provided great tidbits about their careers to the students in attendance. (Photo credit: Richard Rosen, NYC Center for Youth Employment)

As the Wagner students made their way out of the Longacre Theatre following the end of the speakers’ presentations, they were buzzing about all they had just seen throughout the day. For some, the outing was a great way to learn about one of New York’s great cultural institutions, while for others, it served as an affirmation of their long-held desires to work in the theater industry. Regardless of their differences, however, they all had a great time.

On behalf of Wagner H.S. and the DOE, we thank Rachel Reiner and the Broadway League, Charlie Flateman and the Shubert Organization, Sue Frost, Aaron Lustbader, Leslie Barrett, and Anna Louizos for providing our students with this wonderful experience!


Good luck with the second half of the school year, Wagner H.S.! (Photo credit: Richard Rosen, Center for Youth Employment)


Posted by The Morning Bell

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