CUNY’S AGGRESSIVE CAREER-DEVELOPMENT PUSH SPARKS STUDENT-TECH FIRM MEETUP AT BROOKLYN NAVY YARD

The City University of New York’s aggressive commitment to career development has already placed thousands of students in paid internships, some leading to postgraduation jobs. In the public sector alone, the University arranges internships for 600 students in 18 city agencies. This goes a long way toward solving the city’s need for talent, while ensuring a diverse work force.

Meetups – such as the one today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s massive new hub for technology and food-production companies – are a key means of introducing students who may not have firm ideas about career paths to entrepreneurs who are powering New York City’s economy today and will shape it in the coming decades.

“CUNY Career Meetups is our response to build our students’ networks by visiting over 50 firms this year in a variety of industries, meeting staff and CUNY alumni, and getting the inside view into careers and opportunities,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “Touring state-of-the-art facilities in manufacturing tech at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, understanding civic tech at Sidewalk Labs, learning about postproduction film and TV editing at Technicolor, and touring the city’s center for anti-terrorism and emergency management is what will inform and widen the experiences of our students. And importantly, it is the easiest way for NYC firms of any size and in any industry to get to know our talented students, and to open the door to hiring our graduates.”

Social capital and networks are what open the doors to hiring, Chancellor Milliken said, “Through our meetups, we will help tens of thousands of CUNY students build the networks and professional connections they need to navigate their careers and be prepared for the ever-changing future of work.”

Over the next academic year, CUNY will be launching meetups in these 10 areas: allied health care, art/creative media, business operations, finance, hospitality and marketing, human services, industry and construction, life sciences, public sector, and technology, with several already under way. For example, a recent public-sector meetup occurred at the city’s Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn. A meetup at Technicolor PostWorks in SoHo, which supplies editorial and finishing services for film and television, brought together firms that operate in that sector. And students got to explore finance at Point72, an investment firm.

The CUNY Tech Meetup at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s new 16-story, 1 million-square-foot Building 77, like the others, invites students from all 24 CUNY campuses. It starts at 5 p.m. at Building 77 at the corner of Vanderbilt and Flushing Avenues. Students will begin three tours of the facility starting at 5:15. At 7 p.m. there will be a panel discussion with tech entrepreneurs.

For their part, the entrepreneurs hope to spot upcoming and often hard-to-find talent that they can help develop through paid internships and, after graduation, even jobs.

“The two CUNY interns we had last summer were sharp and bright and willing to wear the many hats of a startup culture,” said Nick Molinski, co-founder and chief technology officer of the startup Acculis.

This semester he was able to offer one of them a part-time job, working on software that gives building contractors 3D information on their smart phones and pads to augment the 2D blueprints they traditionally have used to guide construction. “We’re very happy with these CUNY students,” he said.

CUNY’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development unit arranges the meetups as a part of the University’s Career Success Initiative. The initiative helps students learn essential workplace skills that will prepare them for internships and jobs, as well as to find academic majors that will provide the academic backgroundsbusine they will need.

Its signature program is #CUNYCodes. This is an industry-focused, co-curricular program, which for the past three years has given students advanced training in software development that aligns with local industry’s needs for entry-level talent. Over 10 weeks, the students build apps under the guidance of savvy industry mentors and then pitch their creations to an audience that includes tech businesspeople. #CUNYCodes is expected to expand to multiple campuses in fall 2018.

Stuart Smith, a 2017 College of Staten Island graduate, was in #CUNYCodes’ initial group in 2014. While he was a student, CUNY helped him secure an internship at New York City Small Business Services. “The main thing there was I learned to work in a professional environment, how to interact with co-workers and how to ask questions and to get help,”Smith said. As a result, when he interviewed for the software engineering job he now holds at JPMorgan Chase, he had solid experiences to discuss.

Smith is a firm believer in #CUNYCodes, where he now volunteers as a mentor. “We developed a mobile app to facilitate sales or trades of textbooks among students,” he said. His key takeaways were not only the nuts and bolts of conceiving and coding an app, but also how to work in teams, which is how he now works at JPMorgan.

CUNY’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development unit has two other meetups this month. One is in film, TV and media on April 24 at Harbor, a SoHo, N.Y., full-service production and postproduction studio. The other is on April 26 in trading and investing at a location to be decided. Also, it will be hosting its next #CUNYCodes Demo Night on May 2 at Fiterman Hall, Borough of Manhattan Community College.

CUNY’s career-development efforts work in tandem with those on campuses. Borough of Manhattan Community College, for example, is a leader with its Code to Work program, which recruits and places candidates from nontraditional backgrounds —first-generation immigrants, women, minorities and veterans — into technology-focused jobs. It provides computer coding “boot camps,” followed by a paid summer internship.

In addition, nearly 500 students from CUNY campuses will converge at Baruch College later this month for the fourth CUNY Hackathon, a weekend of digital brainstorming, tech teamwork and career development guided by mentors from some of the world’s most important tech companies. The twice-yearly CUNY Hackathon is equal parts experiential learning, competition, networking – and overnighter. It’s staged by CUNY Startups, an initiative begun in 2014 to encourage students to pursue careers in technology and to launch a new generation of innovative companies in the city. The hackathons are a partnership between CUNY Startups and the Lawrence N. Field Center at Baruch College.

The hackathon is co-sponsored by IBM and Google. Students are mentored by experts from those and other leading tech companies in New York. To assist with the “Hack Gotham” theme, CUNY Startups has also enlisted the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, whose staffers will teach a workshop in using open data from the city that can inspire ideas for apps that could make life better for New Yorkers.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

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