Field Day: Interns Take an Offsite Trip

Last week, United Way of Long Island’s marketing and community impact interns got a chance to experience three of the organization’s programs firsthand. The group took a trip to the YouthBuild classroom, E3 SmartBuild Training Center and community partner Pronto.

Through the offsite trip, each interned gained a more comprehensive understanding of United Way of Long Island’s efforts and how their work contributes to advancing the common good of Long Island. Here’s what the interns took away:

Daniel, Marketing Intern

Over time, I’ve learned to trust my five senses over my reading comprehension. But during my first month at United Way of Long Island, I was constrained to the latter. I came to understand the organization and its programs primarily by reading the website and sitting in on meetings and phone calls. Occasionally, I was fortunate enough to learn through presentations.  

That is, until last Wednesday’s off-site trip. With stops at United Way’s YouthBuild classroom, E3 SmartBuild Training Center and a local community partner, the day gave me an opportunity to see United Way in action. After spending a month reading about building a better Long Island community through health, education and financial stability, Wednesday’s trip gave me a chance to see what that means firsthand.  

I won’t soon forget the sound of a YouthBuild teacher creating a better future for her students, the smell of the fresh wood in the SmartBuild lab striving for net zero energy, and the sight of a local food distribution and thrift center providing life essentials. The experience brought my cubicle computer screen to life, adding the sincerity of faces and places to the work we do at United Way of Long Island. 

Experiencing these programs in person allowed me to see United Way from a different angle and appreciate the organization’s work on a deeper level. The profound impact on local lives is undeniable, and the opportunity to directly contribute within my own community is invaluable.

Samara, Community Impact Intern

This field trip was truly an eye-opener and a great way to see how United Way of Long Island works throughout many communities in need. I learned so much about how each place impacts people in the community for the better. 

At YouthBuild, I had the opportunity to gain a better understanding how the TASC and GED work while getting to hear from students who are currently studying for these tests. It was great to learn how that program can enhance their futures and lead them to careers rather than just jobs. 

Similar to YouthBuild, we went to SmartBuild Training Center, where we toured the center and learned all about how United Way of Long Island stays at the top 1% nationwide in home energy efficiency. Most of the houses produce more energy than they use. 

Lastly, we visited a nonprofit called Pronto. Founded by Christian leaders, Pronto’s mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, welcome all strangers, and provide healing and hope to all those who need. They host numerous events that bring the community together each year. 

The trip gave me great insight into how United Way of Long Island helps people in the communities, whether they’re students who dropped out of high school looking to have a livelihood for themselves, to people in need of a home, and to the needy looking for assistance in any area of their lives.

Nick, Marketing Intern

Since I began my internship at United Way, I was familiar with many of the programs we support. However, while working from the office, I could only read and learn about our work, so it was an honor and a great experience to tour these wonderful facilities in person. We made stops at the YouthBuild School, the E3 SmartBuild Training Center and community partner Pronto.   

One part of the day that will certainly stick with me was visiting the E3 SmartBuild Training Center. Inside the facility, veterans and YouthBuild students are trained to build smart energy-efficient homes. During the tour, an emphasis on efficiency was clear. It’s easy to see why the program has helped build multiple homes which earned accolades from the U.S. Department of Energy.  

At Pronto, I was really impressed by the organization’s ability to provide more than just the immediate assistance – like food distribution and thrift clothing — that they already excel at. Pronto is planning more than 20 upcoming events for the Brentwood community that include movie nights, holiday festivities and even a day of remembrance for their local heroes.  

Afterwards, we came back to the office for lunch with some of our staff and the students from YouthBuild. While we ate lunch, we learned more about some of the goals and aspirations of the YouthBuild students, which ranged from earning a CDL license to become a commercial truck driver to launching a clothing line.  

It was a great day to visualize the programs that we work with so much and to learn more about United Way’s history during our lunch. 

Michael, Community Impact Intern

Going on the orientation tour and visiting United Way’s partner agencies was really an eye-opener. A few of my favorite aspects visiting the E3 and meeting the students at YouthBuild. Visiting the SmartBuild lab and seeing how everything worked, especially the net zero energy homes, was truly inspiring. 

Not only does it demonstrate having a well-constructed home but it also goes easy on your financial situation for you not to have to pay for electricity. It truly convinced me to look into it when I get older and decide to own a home. Additionally, seeing the way things worked such as the lines of water in the ground producing heat and the air filters really satisfied my curiosity and how I was able to use my prior knowledge and make connections.  

My biggest highlight was the YouthBuild classroom. Seeing people taking time to help others, who may have not had the same opportunity to pursue their education, was truly motivating. Even more respect to those who are willing to endure the hardships they took on to try and fight for a better life than what they have. It truly made me consider wanting to step into the educational field in the future to help those in need. 

Sean, Marketing Intern

Last week, my fellow interns and I got the opportunity to visit Pronto Food pantry and thrift store, the YouthBuild suite and massive E3 Smartbuild training center. Pronto is one of the selfless partners of United Way of Long Island. Their motto especially stood out to me, “Feed the hungry, clothe the needy, and welcome all strangers.” 

At YouthBuild, we got a very detailed and heartfelt description of the program from the head professor, who touched on potential adversity the students enrolled could have withstood before coming here.  It was a special place with an exorbitant amount of love and support surrounding the students trying to make their way.   

The E3 Smartbuild training center had me in awe.  It is a massive warehouse, with a model house built on the inside with nothing but state of the art appliances.  It’s here where the students of YouthBuild can learn trades and even earn different types of certifications in construction disciplines.  The man who teaches these hardworking people is Stephen Muzyka, who knew everything and more about construction and home building.   

I really enjoyed getting firsthand experience while visiting these people and places.  Another humbling day spent the United Way of Long Island and a nice break from the office life I’ve quickly grown accustomed to.   

A Banner Impact

Within my first few days of working at United Way of Long Island, I was able to attend and experience an event that was weeks in the making – United Way’s Virtual Salute. This event honored and showcased everyday heroes throughout our community and, in my opinion, the campaign certainly achieved that goal. During the past year, so many people have made positive impacts during a time when their communities needed it most, and the Virtual Salute was a great way to give them the recognition they deserve.  

The campaign did not end at the Virtual Salute, I was actually able to help contribute and honor these heroes. I did so by helping print and display banners that hang right outside of the entrance to our office. In total, the banners span over 100 feet!. They feature the faces of all the workforce heroes that were recognized as well as the event sponsors.

It was amazing to see a glimpse of the hard work behind the scenes to make this all possible. Even though I’ve only been working at United Way for a few weeks now, I can see how dedicated the team is and hanging the banners outside is a perfect example of how United Way goes above and beyond to showcase their appreciation for our neighbors.

If you missed the Virtual Salute and want to learn about the campaign or the hundreds of heroes that were honored, you can access the Wall of Heroes at www.unitedwayli.org/wallofheroes.

-Nick, Marketing Intern

Team Effort

Daniel Dash Marketing Intern

Throughout my life, I’ve been part of countless teams. Whether it be on the court, on the field or in the classroom, working towards a major goal alongside others has always brought out the best in me. 

Now, as a summer marketing intern at United Way of Long Island, I’m representing my most important team yet. Along with two other interns, I hit the ground running at the beginning of June as United Way prepared for its Virtual Salute. On our first day at the office, someone within the department dropped a one-liner in the flow of conversation that has resonated over my first few weeks. 

Your job title is only 25 percent of what you do. 

It didn’t take a thorough orientation to know that working at a non-profit would make for a hands-on summer. But it quickly became clear that the 25 percent rule would define my everyday role. During the days leading up to the Virtual Salute, I was able to witness the team in action. Devoting days to packing and delivering kits, assembling a special hero presentation and planning a candlelight tribute — all while keeping up with United Way’s other projects and programs — made for a memorable first week. 

Working on so many things at a single time means our department is constantly pulled in different directions. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but the fact that United Way makes such a profound impact on the Long Island community makes it worth every moment. And now, I’ve gotten a peek behind the curtain at the special team that runs the show. 

From little league baseball to college volleyball, teams have always taught me to play for trophies. But this summer, playing for my neighbors and my own community has proved far more rewarding. 

A Salute to Our Heroes

Sean O’Gara- Marketing Intern

On my fourth day interning at United Way of Long Island, I found myself taken aback by the collective effort and preparation that went into the first “event” I experienced here.  Today the organization concluded the “Virtual Salute” campaign in a way that couldn’t be more fitting for the times we are all still living in.  The final day of the Virtual Salute campaign entailed a gigantic zoom call between the staff at United Way of Long Island and the 200+ Workplace Heroes we are all so grateful for.  It was very literally a virtual salute to these people for contributing or raising funds to go towards many different people who were financially impacted by Covid-19.

The commencement-sized call went really well in my opinion and I believe the donors enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it myself, but from my perspective it was more of a gentle reminder of why I originally wanted to intern for an organization like United Way of Long Island.  Directly impacting people under tough circumstances, weekly, daily?  Today was just my first primary example of what an experienced and impactful Non–Profit would be like.  As a person who just joined the crew 4 shifts ago, I do understand that I’m only seeing a small glimpse of the work completed, comparative to the tip of an iceberg- but that is precisely why I respect these new faces immensely.  I myself worked pretty hard these past two weeks, so I can only imagine the people who devote themselves full time to others to create and execute amazing fundraising events such as this! Click the link below to learn more about the Virtual Salute campaign, or just browse our Wall of Heroes!

Virtual Salute: Wall of Heroes | United Way of Long Island (unitedwayli.org)

Honoring Workforce Heroes who Make a Positive Impact

Is there someone you know or who you work with that has made a difference in our community during the Covid 19 health crisis? A person or co-worker in your life who has shown care, courage, and compassion during this past year, which has been extraordinarily challenging?

Honor them by submitting them to United Way of Long Island’s Wall of Heroes. 

Submit your Workforce Hero Today!

Then, on June 16, cheer on your hero during the Virtual Salute & Recognition Ceremony, which will include a Candle Lighting Tribute to remember lives lost to COVID-19 over the past year. Funds raised will support Long Island families who have been affected by COVID-19.

For more information and full details about this event visit www.unitedwayli.org/wallofheroes or contact Vickie Cella at vcella@unitedwayli.org.

HUNTINGTON MUSICIAN JOE DEJESU WRITES & PERFORMS ORIGINAL SONG TO BENEFIT UNITED WAY OF LONG ISLAND’S COVID-19 RECOVERY EFFORTS

Musician Uses Social Platforms to Raise Awareness… Leading up to a July 25 Fundraiser

Joe DeJesu, a Huntington-based musician, recently arranged an original song for United Way of Long Island to inspire hope and bring positivity during these difficult times. His song, titled United Together (We Will Survive), accompanies a poignant video demonstrating United Way’s continued efforts to help those impacted by COVID-19 – including healthcare responders, families, mothers with newborns, seniors, and individuals who are unemployed. Joe’s dedication to helping others, as well as his commitment to the not-for-profit’s mission, is a testament to the goodwill of the Long Island community.

The video, featuring DeJesu’s original song, has been integrated into the organization’s marketing and fundraising campaigns, including United Way’s workplace strategy in which companies participate in a payroll deduction program in support of the organization. Current top workplace campaigns include: GEICO, UPS, National Grid, Suffolk Transportation Service, Inc., PSEG Long Island, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Macy’s Costco, Enterprise, Petro, Target Corporation and TD Charitable Foundation.

In early April when DeJesu was approached with the idea to write a song for United Way of Long Island, he was eager to have a platform to showcase his talents in support of his community, “Long Island is my home. If there is anything I can do to help, I’ll jump at the opportunity.”

“Joe’s original song is a true gemstone of a fundraising asset for our organization. We are pleased to collaborate with local musician Joe DeJesu, who exemplifies our motto to Live United and help uplift our neighbors,” said Theresa A. Regnante, President & CEO of United Way of Long Island.

United Together (We Will Survive) was originally a gift for DeJesu’s wife, Eri. With strengthened appreciation for his family, Joe wrote the lyrics wanting to bring love and positivity to the coronavirus crisis. As a result, he realized his song held the perfect message to lift the spirits of his fellow Long Islanders: “We will survive this crazy time; with each day, a little better. And when the sun begins to shine, we know we’ll always be united together.”

Given unusual recording conditions, DeJesu recorded the song from the safety of his home. “It’s difficult to be apart [from my bandmates] creatively, but eventually the pieces all fell into place.” To assist in the recording and production of the song, Joe reached out to his friends, Huntington-based instrumentalist Kenny Friedman (Kenny Friedman Music) who recorded piano for the song and longtime producer and multi-instrumentalist Bob Stander (Parcheesi Studios) who produced the song. DeJesu was pleasantly surprised at the success of the end result, given that the recording was done entirely remotely and without collaborating in person. As they worked through adjusting to using new technology, along with the laborious process of sending song edits back and forth, the final version of the song came together.

Musical mentor and longtime friend of DeJesu, Mike DelGuidice, Singer/Songwriter and Billy Joel band member comments, “A song like this can only produce beautiful results. Especially when it comes from the heart of a songwriter that is channeling his deepest emotions into the lyric. When songs are written in that manner, the people who listen get equally as affected and can feel the exact sentiment of the writer.” He added, “[Joe’s] generosity and his selflessness knows no bounds. There have been numerous things that he has done for me on his own without asking. He has a beautiful demeanor, great sense of humor, and a heart that feels everything around him. A true empath.”

As COVID-19 has changed DeJesu’s ability to perform, he is now using social media as his main platform to reach his audience. To celebrate his 40th birthday on July 25, leading up to that date DeJesu is hosting a Facebook fundraiser to benefit United Way of Long Island. In addition, Joe streams live shows and jam sessions on his Facebook page, and includes a link through which people can contribute to United Way, supporting the recovery of the region and its most vulnerable populations.

Joe DeJesu’s thoughtfulness towards his community stems from the understanding that this health crisis has had varying levels of impact on every Long Islander. “When we’re all stuck in the house, it’s hard to think about what others are going through. It’s easy to forget that we need to rely on each other. What better time is there to help out than now?”

The song United Together (We Will Survive) has helped raise funds for United Way to address the most urgent needs of families across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, including helping unemployed and furloughed workers; frontline responders; as well as new moms giving birth during the crisis. Funds raised will continue to support crucial programs and services, especially for seniors, as the Long Island region begins to recover from the pandemic.

To watch United Together (We Will Survive) and to make a contribution to United Way of Long Island, visit www.unitedwayli.org/unitedtogetherwewillsurvive.

To follow Joe DeJesu on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/joedejesumusic.

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 – Huntington musician Joe DeJesu performs. Photo Credit: Marianne P. Stone Photo
Photo 2 – Joe and his family: wife Eri and daughters Melody and Lyric
Photo 3 – Producer & multi-instrumentalist Bob Stander of Parcheesi Studios
Photo 4 – Instrumentalist Kenny Friedman of Kenny Friedman Music

MORE ABOUT JOE DEJESU 
Born, raised and still living in Huntington, DeJesu was regularly surrounded by music growing up. Inspired by the array of genres played in his home, he formed his musical career in his early twenties, performing at venues in Manhattan and across the country. After nearly a decade of performing, DeJesu decided to follow a more traditional career path. During his ten-year musical hiatus, he studied law and became an attorney in the real estate business. However, with the support of his family, and due to the extra time recently provided by working from home, Joe has been able to reconnect with his music and pursue songwriting intensively.

DeJesu credits his transition back to his music career to Mike DelGuidice, Singer/Songwriter and Billy Joel band member. DelGuidice offered DeJesu to open for Big Shot at The Paramount and since that concert, Joe DeJesu has continued to perform live at Long Island and New York City venues.

Before the pandemic, DeJesu hosted his own radio show, J.A.M. Joe’s Acoustic Mondays on Govs Comedy Club Radio, during which he both interviewed and played music with local artists. Under the new circumstances, he continues to host the show from his home accompanied by the musical talent of his family, including his wife, Eri, and daughters Lyric and Melody. With three singles produced in the last six months, he is continuing to work on original music with the goal of putting together a full-length album.

How to be Compassionate During COVID-19

Stephanie Hwang
Marketing and Communications Intern at United Way of Long Island
Undergraduate student at Stony Brook University
English & Business Management double-major with Korean Studies minor

The term “collapse of compassion” refers to the phenomenon that states that as the number of people in need of help increases, the compassion we feel towards the people decreases. This trend can be attributed to three reasons. For one, we feel emotionally distanced from those in suffering, especially as their numbers become overwhelming. Additionally, we feel that if we do try to help, our contributions will not make much of a difference. Lastly, we feel that someone else inevitably will help regardless of our own actions. Amidst these influences, it becomes difficult to accurately measure our own value to its fullest extent. However, with United Way of Long Island, every single person can make a difference in bettering our community. Focusing on health, education, and financial stability, contributions of any size have a significant impact towards changing lives.

While our community is adjusting to a broader set of difficulties, right now is the time when every small gift plays a huge role in improving another person’s situation. Not only does this help bring resources to people in need, but it also provides solace.

In a thank you message upon receiving aid, Jessica writes, “Today was difficult for me fighting the hardships of this time. I received my gift card and knowing that there is support is comforting. I just want to give thanks to all who work with United Way. Thank you!”

Another recipient, Thomas, says, “Still eight weeks in, waiting on unemployment. To date, your organization is the only relief I’ve received. With that, I just wanted to say thank you so much. It really means a lot.” The UNITED TOGETHER initiatives, along with these heartfelt messages, would not have been possible without the generosity of our community members, including corporations, foundations, labor unions and individuals.

The organization will soon be shifting its focus from immediate response to long-term recovery. This includes protecting the health and safety of seniors and other vulnerable Long Islanders. Funded by RXR Realty, Safe at Home is committed to connecting seniors with all the critical resources from which they have suddenly become withdrawn, including access to medical appointments, meals, prescriptions, and social relationships. “Unlike past crises, with COVID-19, we can’t physically rush to help those in need. Instead, we have to find new ways to help,” said Scott Rechler, Chairman & CEO of RXR Realty. With its loyalty to the goal of building socially, economically, and environmentally responsible communities, RXR Realty adapted to the circumstances through contributing to United Way.

Leading funders of UNITED TOGETHER: A Response Fund For COVID-19 include Bank of America, New York Jets, Rauch Foundation, National Grid, M&T Bank, The Countess Moira Charitable Foundation, Brookhaven National Lab/Brookhaven Science Associates, PSEG Long Island, The AmerisourceBergen Foundation, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, MSC Industrial Supply Co., Northville Industries, RXR, People’s United Community Foundation, Esquire Bank, National Grid Foundation, The Randi & Clifford Lane Foundation, City National Bank, GEICO, Island Outreach Foundation, Wells Fargo, United Way Worldwide, TriState Capital Bank, CVS Health, Deloitte, Iroquois Gas Transmission System, King Kullen Grocery Co., Sunshine Foundation, UPS, BlackRock, CNA, Philadelphia Insurance, Ridgewood Savings Bank, TA Mechanical Group Inc., Utica National Insurance Group, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, ACIT, CHUBB, EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants, Long Island Federation of Labor, LECSA, New Empire Group, Ltd., Transervice Logistics Inc., Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock and Branch 6000, National Association of Letter Carriers.

As the difficulties posed by COVID-19 persist, the need for supporters continues to grow. To avoid falling into the collapse of compassion, we must remember that our individual actions hold great significance. Contributions of any size represent your concern for the common good. By giving to UNITED TOGETHER to help those in need, you can simultaneously express your personal encouragement of the community’s well-being.

To contribute to UNITED TOGETHER: A Response Fund For COVID-19, visit www.unitedwayli.org/unitedtogetherfund or text “HelpNow” to 313131.

Celebrating Life With Born United: A Community Baby Shower

 

Stephanie Hwang
Marketing and Communications Intern at United Way of Long Island
Undergraduate student at Stony Brook University
English & Business Management double-major with Korean Studies minor

 

 

United Way of Long Island’s Born United initiative provides gifts cards to local hospitals to distribute to growing families in need of financial support

Although the extensive presence of COVID-19 has led to the invasion of many aspects of our lives, there are certain occasions that continue to call for celebration. The emergence of new life into the world is an event that should not be dismissed just because of our current situation. As a result, United Way of Long Island has established Born United: A Community Baby Shower. 

Born United is concentrating its efforts towards helping new and growing families obtain necessities, including baby food, diapers and bottles, through the allocation of gift cards. In partnership with local hospitals, United Way of Long Island is working hard to facilitate the distribution process: “The Born United initiative is an opportunity for United Way to support hospitals by allowing our healthcare responders to provide a gift to the family as they start their journey with their new member,” says Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. Through collaboration with healthcare facilities, the best effort is being made to provide succor for the families in need. 

With the added support of United Way, families will be able to redirect some of the stress brought on by the current circumstances towards focusing on fully appreciating the joys of parenthood. News 12 Long Island recently followed the story of Maria, a new mother whose financial situation has put a strain on motherhood, especially amidst the limitations caused by COVID-19. Upon being a recipient of Born United’s relief program, she states “It definitely gives me peace of mind knowing that United Way is there for me. Every penny counts… sending me that gift card really did make a difference.” Born United is taking measures to share this source of comfort and encouragement to the thousands of families in Long Island also struggling to provide for their children. 

Along with the assistance from local hospitals, EGC Group also provided a significant contribution to United Way of Long Island with its development of the #BornUnited campaign. In a review of this collaboration, Advertising Week writes, “This specific campaign posed unique COVID-19-related challenges since the team had to brainstorm, work, and collaborate virtually. The inspiration behind this campaign was: ‘Coming together for the greater good.’” In response to the effect of COVID-19, all contributors to the Born United initiative share the goal of a united approach.

Giving to Born United is one way to help the community defy COVID-19 and appropriately celebrate the special moments in our lives. 

To view a short video created by EGC Group, visit https://youtu.be/rUKP-FcKf6o

To contribute to Born United: A Community Baby Shower, visit www.unitedwayli.org/bornunited or text “BornUnited” to 313131. 

 

A Response Fund for COVID-19

Stephanie Hwang
Marketing and Communications Intern at United Way of Long Island
Undergraduate student at Stony Brook University
English & Business Management double-major with Korean Studies minor

 

 

United Way of Long Island launched UNITED TOGETHER: A Response Fund For COVID-19 to provide low-income families that have been hurt by COVID-19 with the means to acquire basic needs.

At a time when a worldwide pandemic requires us to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, it is now more important than ever to unite as a community. As we make our best efforts to stay healthy and stay inside, we are working towards creating a safe world for all of us to be able to re-enter together.

The devastation caused by COVID-19 is particularly affecting many low-income families, leaving them with a sudden inability to maintain basic needs. To help combat the difficulties of adjusting to the abrupt loss of financial stability, United Way of Long Island has facilitated a Response Fund to directly support families in need.

Despite the unexpected nature of our situation, United Way of Long Island was able to efficiently and effectively transition to working remotely, to allow for the production of disaster relief and aid initiatives to continue without cessation. By taking proactive measures since mid March, they were able to assemble a gift card distribution system, through the UNITED TOGETHER Response Fund, to give money directly to as many devastated families in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as possible. Along with anxieties undoubtedly incurred from the pressure to maintain good health or be able to readily access medical assistance, at this time, many low-income families struggle simply to meet their daily necessities. The Response Fund provides these families with the encouragement to remain hopeful.

Christine, mother of four, writes, “I received the gift card today and want to say thank you so very much for your help and assistance. I cannot tell you what a big help this is for me. While waiting in limbo for any type of unemployment to kick in, I am finding it very difficult to provide for my 4 young teens. The gift card will go a long way to help feed them.”

Every individual contribution goes a very long way towards granting comfort to these families. Just as we are doing our best to protect one another by wearing masks and staying six feet apart, giving to UNITED TOGETHER: A Response Fund For COVID-19 is another opportunity to boost the well-being of our community from a safe distance.

To contribute to UNITED TOGETHER: A Response Fund For COVID-19, visit www.unitedwayli.org/unitedtogether or text “HelpNow” to 313131.

 

Chronicles from My First Professional Development Workshop

Catherine Pergolis
Marketing and Communications Intern at United Way of Long Island
Attending Suffolk University in Boston, MA
Public Relations major with Marketing minor

 

 

On Wednesday, July 31st I had the privilege of attending the Bank of America Professional Development and Community Service Day in Melville, New York.  Also attending the event were 37 interns who participated in the Bank of America Charitable Foundation Summer Youth Employment Program, administered by United Way of Long Island.  Workshops such as career planning, resume writing, and financial literacy filled up the day’s agenda, which began at 9:00 in the morning and ended at 3:30 in the afternoon.  I had no idea that I would have a full day of interesting presentations and experiences that would teach me so much about my professional life now and in the future.

Mary Ellen King, Sr. Vice President of Global Human Resources at Bank of America, led the first workshop of the day which focused on career planning, resume writing and interview skills. Interns, including myself, were eager to hear about the key tips to getting a good job and becoming successful.  King emphasized to us that we should choose a career path they are passionate about and will outline their definition of success.

King advised interns to write a thank you note to their interviewer no later than 24 hours after they have the interview.  As a hiring manager in previous years, she explained to us that many thank you notes all look the same and if you want to stand out you need to personalize the thank you notes to make the interviewer feel a special connection.

As the workshop concluded, we were left with an interview tip: if you do not have any questions at the end of an interview, ask a question like, “What skills have made you successful in your role here?”

Our next workshop was called “The Power and Pitfalls of Social Media,” which was conducted by Karen Taylor-Bass of TaylorMade Media LLC.  We heard real life stories about social media posts that have been detrimental to people’s careers and were advised to think before posting.  Although many interns have heard this saying in the past, it was new for some of us to hear that college admissions officers look at an applicant’s social media platforms and if they find something offensive or distasteful they can easily rescind the admission offer.  Taylor-Bass explained what it means to buy your domain name and why this is so important; if you do not own your name on social media, someone else can purchase it, which can cause major problems. I was surprised that I could buy my domain name for less than $11.  I’m going to look into this!

After lunch we heard from Noelia Tissera, Vice President and Market Leader for Consumer Banking at Bank of America and Preetham Dhivakarababu, Vice President and Market Leader for Merrill Edge.  Both Tissera and Dhivakarababu spoke about how emotion and investing should not go hand in hand.  We were advised to commit to goals and time frames in order to invest properly.

The third workshop of the day was Financial Literacy and was directed by Cathy Duque, Vice President of Global Human Resources at Bank of America, and Yamiley Jabouin, Assistant Vice President of Global Banking and Markets at Bank of America.  I felt like this workshop was the most informational and encouraged us to start saving and budgeting.  Duque stated, “It’s not about how much you make, it’s about how you manage it.”  I agree with Duque and after hearing the presentation I am more interested in ways that I can cut down on spending.

Jabouin advised students to not have a credit card until they turn 21 because it is a life time relationship with the credit card company once you start.  I was grateful for this presentation because my misconceptions about money management were debunked.  Jabouin and Duque explained to us that when you receive your credit card bill you have the option to pay off the minimum balance or the entire amount.  I used to think that when you received a bill you would have to pay off the entire amount, now I understand how it actually works and why getting a credit card at a young age can have adverse effects.

Throughout the presentation there were some facts that really stood out to me.  I was stunned that 62% of Americans have less than $1000 in their savings account.  I did not realize that the majority of the United States struggles this much.  Another astonishing statistic is 63% of Americans can’t afford a $500 to $1000 repair on their car or home, leading them into debt.  After hearing these facts, it made me realize the importance of having an emergency fund for the obstacles life will throw at you.

The last portion of the day was our community service project led by Greta Guarton, Executive Director of Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. This was my favorite part of the day and it warmed my heart to give back to the community.  During this event, we created care packages for families who are homeless living on Long Island, consisting of socks, deodorant, soap, tissues, hand sanitizer, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, chapstick, a comb and two granola bars.

Guarton explained that there are 4,000 individuals who are homeless in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Along with the toiletries, each of us added notecards with hopeful messages to the bag of goods. In total, 204 bags were made by the end of the event.  I am so fortunate to have so much and I enjoyed creating care packages to help those in need.  Homelessness is something that no one should have to experience and I was grateful to be a part of the mission to end homelessness on Long Island.

Once the bags were finished, Bob Isaksen, Long Island President of Bank of America, spoke to us describing how we are the future.  Isaksen explained that first impressions mean everything on an interview and he was glad we heard tips on how to interview properly. In addition to Isaksen, we also heard remarks from Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive and Dana Boylan, Executive Director of Nassau County Office of Youth Services.  Bellone stated “How can we create and environment [on Long Island] where you can be successful?” Boylan stated that she is very committed to summer youth employment and emphasized, “Youth development is community development.”  Clearly Isaksen, Bellone and Boylan are three very passionate people about bettering the opportunities for youth so we can become successful and self-sufficient individuals.

All ten guest speakers really showed us that success is possible if you have the drive and the right mindset.  It was a fantastic day and I am so glad that I was able to receive so much information.