One of the most valuable learning experiences at East Islip High School is the school’s comprehensive mentoring program, managed by the East Islip/Dowling School Business Partnership’s Career Development Committee.
“The students receive information and advice on everything from what college courses they should take to how to ask for a raise when they have attained years of experience in the field,” explained teacher Paul McHugh, a member of the Career Development Committee. “I am thrilled so many of our high school students do their part to discover what career opportunities await after graduation.”
“It is wonderful to see the students make that jump from high school to the business world,” added teacher Bridget Lopiccolo, who organizes East Islip’s Mentor Me program each year. “It always amazes me to see the students go from ‘This sounds like something I should do and would look good on my transcript’ to ‘I can really see myself in that field.’ For me as a teacher, it’s as if they walk in the door high school students and walk out a determined workforce with a bright future.”
The mentoring experience begins each fall with the Catch-a Career Breakfast, held last year on Oct. 19. The 2011 event featured Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi (a frequent mentoring participant) as the guest speaker, and over 30 professionals serving as table facilitators from such organizations as Dowling College, Capital One Bank, Paul Davis Restoration, Good Samaritan Hospital, Motorola, Terrace Apothecary, Suffolk Transportation Services, the Riverhead Foundation, Newsday, the Hospice Care Network, the Food Network, GE Aviation, the Suffolk County Crime Lab and Rockefeller Group Technology Solutions, Inc.
“The East Islip/Dowling Catch-a-Career Breakfast is a truly unique experience for our students in that they can sit one-on-one with business professionals in their career interest area and learn firsthand what that career entails,” said McHugh.
The Mentor Me program is entering its 10th year at East Islip High, and normally ranges from 40-90 student participants. It consists of two parts: an initial Meet My Mentor Breakfast, followed by Shadow Day. Said Lopiccolo, “The students take the information learned at Catch-a-Career and narrow down their career choice. Then they sign up for the mentoring program, where they will meet and shadow a person in their chosen career.”
Last year’s Meet My Mentor Breakfast was held at the East Islip High School library on Nov. 22, 2011, with students encountering business professionals in their career field of interest. The experienced professionals shared detailed career information including responsibilities and educational requirements. The event and the program in general are mutually beneficial, as the businessperson may gain a future employee while the student obtains valuable experience in his or her chosen field and advice on college choices and internships. Last year, student Kate Deubel, who wants to pursue a baking career, connected with Augie Cunha, an Entenmann’s representative, in a particularly successful example of mentor pairing.
The students then shadowed their selected career mentors on Shadow Day, which took place on Dec. 15, 2011 and again on Jan. 19, 2012. Among the participants were Mary Simonetti, who shadowed Assistant Superintendent for Business Carl Fraser; Jessica Wenk, whose mentor was local attorney Anthony D’Amico; and Brian Converso, who visited the Suffolk County Police 3rd Precinct in Bay Shore.
As the East Islip mentoring program gears up for the 2012-2013 school year, a new generation of students will find mentors and begin anew the process of discovering their ideal careers.