Alumni shine at NBCUniversal event and a Program Manager reflects ūüé®

Alumni participate in career and networking event at NBCUniversal! 

ArtsConnection provides professional development opportunities for young people across NYC. Check out ArtsConnection.org and Teens.ArtsConnection.org for more info. 

ArtsConnection is dedicated to providing young people with professional development opportunities beyond the classroom, with an emphasis on illuminating career pathways in the creative industries. In December, AC alumni had the chance to participate in a networking and career readiness event with NBCUniversal, where they got the chance to sharpen their interviewing skills and map out career goals with NBCU professionals.

“It was really helpful and inspiring to hear how they started out in the company and made their own way,” says alum¬†Uma Rao-Labrecque. They particularly¬†enjoyed the “Ace the Interview Lab,” which was the first portion of the Zoom event, during which¬†the college students received a crash¬†course in acing informational interviews.¬†“What I found most helpful was learning the most common and crucial questions you can expect to answer at an interview and the ‘dos and don‚Äôts’¬†for answering them,” added Uma.

For fellow participant and AC alum¬†Tasnuva Shehrin, the most valuable part of the experience was the opportunity to network. “One of the¬†NBC¬†staffers in the breakout room connected me to another¬†NBC staffer.¬†We later scheduled a separate zoom call where I got to ask her about her career trajectory.”

Both students said the event helped them feel more confident in navigating future professional settings. ArtsConnection offers students a variety of professional development opportunities year-round, including college prep programs and individual workshops.

Staff Spotlight:
Brenda Maloy

Brenda Maloy, Senior Program Manager and Bridges Associate.

As the 44th anniversary of ArtsConnection approaches, we spoke with an employee who’s been with the organization since its inception in 1979. Brenda Maloy is a¬†Senior Program Manager and¬†Bridges Associate.¬†BRIDGES¬†is our teaching model which¬†fosters¬†literacy through multi-media puppetry in public¬†elementary schools across New York City.¬†Originally a dancer, Maloy is part of the core team of staffers who have¬†helped our¬†organization become what it is¬†today. She shared¬†some of her favorite ArtsConnection memories, advice¬†for future Program Managers¬†and speaks on¬†the healing capacity of arts education.

During your career, is there a moment¬†that stands out which illustrated the impact arts programming can have on young people?‚ÄĮ

Since my memory is increasingly quixotic, I’ll focus on a recent experience working in the BRIDGES program, through our video documentation, we saw a first grader working with Teaching Artist, Sara Jane Munford in his classroom on what the word “shocked“ might mean. What would it look like on your face? In your body? When might you feel shocked? For this student it brought him to the experience of his loved one’s recent death at home.

After this little¬†exploratory¬†moment with Sara Jane, he went back to his desk and got to work drawing his puppet‚Äôs¬†‚Äúshocked‚ÄĚ face.

In¬†a¬†subsequent conversation, the school’s¬†assistant principal¬†commented that the boy‚Äôs parents had come to school to¬†thank the administration and ask what had happened in¬†school to help their son start to process his grandmother‚Äôs death. He had evidently been silent and bottling¬†up his emotions, unlike an older sister who was expressing her feelings.¬†Their son had begun to talk about his grandmother and seemed to be more able to express his feelings about losing her. He referred to his¬†drawing experience in school.

There is something about physicalizing an emotion and slowing down to look at it, that is very good for one’s mental health.

“Art-making experiences are so¬†valuable
because many kinds of learning¬†are¬†going¬†on simultaneously ‚Ästcreative,¬†aesthetic,
social,¬†emotional…”¬†

New York City has changed a lot over the years. As the city has evolved, have you found that arts programming has had to evolve with it to meet student needs?

We are still in process. As the city has become more expensive, it has become less viable as a home for the grassroots artists that ArtsConnection has always worked with.

Despite this,¬†of course¬†the¬†NYC¬†arts education¬†field has evolved.¬†Media education is more important and valuable than ever.¬†At the same time, and as a former dancer, I know there is truly nothing so freeing and¬†confidence building¬†as¬†developing the¬†physical¬†and¬†expressive capacities¬†of one‚Äôs own body¬†‚ÄĒ¬†to¬†move, to make music, to tell stories in all three dimensions.¬†Children who sit all day and look at screens for¬†terrible¬†amounts¬†of time need to¬†learn¬†how to play in all of the dimensions to know¬†work, joy and¬†freedom.¬†The need for play is¬†fundamental.

Part of the reason that art-making experiences are so¬†valuable¬†is because they are multi-modal:¬†many kinds of learning¬†are¬†going¬†on simultaneously ‚ÄĒ creative, aesthetic, social, emotional, technical, spiritual, executive.¬†I think the¬†field of¬†arts¬†education has made some strides in¬†acknowledging¬†the problems¬†and injustices¬†that¬†exist within our own infrastructure, and that¬†have been created¬†by adults¬†for the children who¬†are in the process of inheriting the¬†world.

A child needs to know that their own voice is important in expressing their own perspective on what is fair and just in the world. It is their important, raw material.

 

What’s some of best career advice you ever received?‚ÄĮ¬†

Play to¬†your strengths ‚ÄĒ¬†know what they are and use them.¬†Be well prepared. Network, always listen and stand up for¬†what you believe.¬†Bring light into the world every day.
In turn, what advice would you give to aspiring program managers and arts educators? 

Find¬†mentors¬†as you progress through your career,¬†develop relationships¬†with those¬†people¬†‚ÄĒ¬†stay in¬†touch. Enjoy your colleagues, but be professional. Network!¬†Keep learning.

As a friendly reminder, we accept donations year-round and they can always be made at artsconnection.thankyou4caring.org!
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