By Toni Hughes
Thursday, July 21, 2016 was the second year that I attended Bank of America’s Professional Development and Community Service Day. Forty young people from all over Long Island came together for this eventful day of professional development, financial literacy, social media etiquette and community service. I had a lot of fun at this same event last year, but this year I found myself more invested in and intrigued by the topics, as I found myself with more responsibilities.
The day began at 9:00a.m with the most genius combination of activities ever, eating and playing. As you were handed a nametag and raffle ticket you were presented with a wonderful table full of bagels, juices, water, coffee, butters, jams, and
cream cheeses. During breakfast a classic game of “People Bingo,” a game in which we all had to introduce ourselves to each other in order to find someone who matched our bingo squares and complete our bingo sheets was played. During the game I met a lot of interesting people, one person’s name was Jay and she knew how to Tango, which was both interesting and useful because that was one of my last missing squares. I also met Kristian, who truly loved his college, Johnson and Wales, and his major, Culinary Arts. We spoke about when I was going on college tours how I visited Johnson and Wales and I thought that it was
absolutely spectacular with its delicious food cooked by students like him. What can I say, I was blinded by my love of food. At the end of the game, two prizes were given to two randomly chosen young people who had competed the entire bingo sheet.
Throughout the day a number of candid photos were taken along with one large photo opportunity alongside Bank of America Executive staff. We were also introduced to a variety of leaders throughout the day. These were the kind of people that you wanted to get a business card from, as they could be a helpful future contact. All of the day’s wonderfully kind and informative people of Bank of America included Lorraine Aycock, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Business & Community Engagement, Mary Ellen King, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, Bob Isaksen, the Long Island Market President, Cathy Duque, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, and James Lubin, a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch. Two of the presenters who were not a part of Bank of America, were Alicia Ray, a Digital Media Professional & Graphic Design Professor, and Sandra Mahoney, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Long Island.
After breakfast, there was a welcome from Lorraine Aycock and Sandra Mahoney. They explained what would happen throughout the day, introduced all of the leaders in the room, and then had students introduce ourselves to the room. These always awkward but usually incredibly funny introductions were followed by a PowerPoint presentation that was put together by Mary Ellen King on career planning, resume writing, and interviewing skills. With this presentation, we were taught how to properly prepare for and act at an interview, from fleshing out our resume to shaking hands and even to sending a thank you card or e-mail to our interviewer the day after the interview. Mrs. King was so invested in assuring that everyone understood the importance of a good handshake and greeting during an interview with a possible employer that she went around the entire room and ensured that she got to shake every students’ hand. At the conclusion of the PowerPoint program Mr. Bob Isaksen took over.
Bob Isaksen asked some of the students what they were interested in doing in the future and how their current summer jobs through the Bank of America’s Youth Employment Program could help them. He also asked how many students wanted to stay on Long Island and how many wanted to either go into New York City or leave the state/country completely. Barely anyone raised their hands to stay on Long Island, but I was one of these few. Most of the young people wanted to go into New York City and there were two or three who wanted to leave the state or country. I told Mr. Isaksen how I want to be a high school psychologist and that this summer job is helpful to me by connecting me with people who could be helpful contacts in the future. Kristian stated how he wants to open up a restaurant to teach teenagers how to cook, which would be like an afterschool extracurricular. After Mr. Isaksen spoke to us, there was a photo opportunity and everyone went to the lobby to take a group photo with both Bob Isaksen and Lorraine Aycock.
After the large group photo was taken the day’s Financial Literacy program began. Now this was probably the most useful part of the day for me. Cathy Duque and James Lubin ran the program and taught all us young people about credit cards, debit cards, credit scores, and budgeting. Mr. Lubin started the presentation and asked how many of us students budgeted and believed ourselves to be good at it. Barely anyone raised their hands. He then gave us advice on how to save money and asked how many of us knew our credit score. This time a few people raised their hands but not many more than the last time. Mr. Lubin then followed up by explaining the different levels of credit scores, ranging from exceptional to poor. I now know that an exceptional score ranges from 800-850, a very good score is around 740-799, good is 670-739, fair is 580-669, and poor is anywhere from 300-579. I also went home after this day and checked my own credit score. I’m currently waiting for the results.
After Mr. Lubin talked to us, Mrs. Duque did her part in explaining the difference between credit and debit cards, along with explaining in very simple terms how credit card companies are built to make themselves money. She pretty much stated that people have to take out credit cards in order to better their credit scores, meaning that they have to get into debt at some point in their lives, which can be a setup for failure if you’re not careful. She also told us to always read the fine print on credit card contracts and to be careful of cards that say they have 0% interest because those usually have outrageous interest rates after a certain time period, such as a year. At the end of this half of the day, the presenters asked if any of us had any questions about finances to which a lot of students had questions ranging from how to save up money for college to how to get a loan to open up a business in the future.
Once the financial literacy portion of the day was over my next favorite part of the day came, more food! At noon, lunch was served. Lunch consisted of salads, sandwiches, sodas, and water. YUM!
At the end of the lunch period, a display on how social media can both positively and negatively affect one’s life was shown by Alicia Ray. Mrs. Ray taught us how easily one can ruin their entire life by a decision they decide to share on social media because nothing on the internet is truly private, hidden, or deleted. It’s scary to say but there is such a thing as “Big Brother” because bots, the cloud, and stations monitor everything. Snapchat is not really secure, everyone! Like I said, nothing truly disappears. She had everyone Google themselves, as she had done in the past, and look at what came up. She also informed us of different websites employers use to weed out and learn about possible and current employees. One website that was particularly interesting to me was Pipl.com. I searched myself on both Google and Pipl.com. Nothing came up for me on Google, but for Pipl I did find my YouTube account along with my Pinterest, which I never made private. You can bet that I privatized my Pinterest account after I found it, and if there was a way to make my YouTube account private I would do that too.
Now, even though when I Googled my name I found nothing when I Googled my name and the town where I live I found a whole Google page on myself, sheesh. Luckily, all of the pages are of good things, such as the different plays and musicals I was in, my swimming times, and being on the news for having twelve-years of perfect attendance. Mrs. Ray told everyone that even though there is no way to really delete any of the bad things you do online, one of the simplest/most effective ways to streamline information about ourselves is to make our social media pages private and to think twice about what we post before we post it. She also gave us a loophole, create a lot of positive content, such as opening up a blog and creating other pages with information about ourselves, in order to try to push some of our less proud days further and further back on Google pages. There’s your sly tip of the day, you’re welcome!
The last activity of the day was a community service project with Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), an organization that helps those in need, such as those who are homeless, or just in dire need get daily necessities, such as food, showers, or clothing. The representative for the organization told us about a man who was a three-time medalist at the Olympics and was one of the people that the organization helped.
She told us that the INN does not ask questions about how someone got into their particular situation, but that when this man willingly told his story it reminded her that everyone has a backstory. Once the speech about how this community service project would help those in need concluded everyone, youth and adults alike, were asked, to prepare sandwiches. In total, there were 1,500 sandwiches made, some were turkey and cheese, others were bologna, and the last kind were cheese. Helping others always made me feel good, so when I learned that all of the prepared sandwiches would be distributed the next day, a Friday, as the INN is not open on the weekends, and that the sandwiches I made would assist in getting these people through that timeframe I felt both proud and humbled.
During the concluding remarks, where Sandra Mahoney spoke, she thanked everyone for attending this important event and invited us all to come back next year. She also pulled out the winning raffle ticket of the day from the morning that all students were entered in. A young man won and seemed very happy to receive his basket full of movie snacks, four movie tickets, and some more goodies to enjoy at a cinematic wonder. Everyone was allowed to take a Bank of America notebook and pen along with a Bank of America folder that held useful information about budgeting and a printed version of Mrs. King’s career planning presentation as a parting gift.
To me the entire day, from beginning to end, was a wonderful learning experience and a great day for everyone, myself included, to make business connections, as I have been saying this entire writing. With this said, a few people asked for business cards at the end of the program, so I think that it was a success.