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Three Village Industry Advisory Board

By Neil Mehta

Over 75 local businesses and organizations engaged with students in grades seven through 12 at Ward Melville High School’s 5th annual career fair Jan. 18. The event, organized by the Three Village Industry Advisory Board, was attended by more than 550 individuals.

Ilene Littman, WMHS business teacher and 3V-IAB coordinator, said the event was held to provide students with “real-world connections, networking opportunities with businesses, and a period to talk to businesses and find out what careers would be most appropriate for them.”

Kevin Scanlon, Three Village Central School District superintendent, said that the goal of the program was to “expose students to some of these opportunities now, before they go off to college.”

Before the event, students completed a personality assessment to determine their Holland code, a system that connects an individual’s personality traits to compatible career paths, Littman said. Businesses were located in the gymnasium at color-coded tables corresponding to each of the six Holland codes, allowing students to find employers from compatible industries.

Several business and organization representatives at the fair noted that they were impressed with the quality of conversation and preparation by student attendees.

Lisa Owens, program manager at regional food bank Long Island Cares, attended the fair to introduce high schoolers to careers in the nonprofit sector

“A lot of students aren’t familiar with nonprofit agencies in general,” she said. “Most of them want to go into corporate careers.”

Vinny Constantino, cardiovascular technologist at Mather Hospital, said he attended the fair to expand student awareness of medical careers beyond work as a doctor or nurse.

“I didn’t know about this career path in high school,” Constantino said. “I never knew there was such a thing as a technologist or what that job entails. I thought it would be nice to let people know that this is an avenue you can pursue.”

According to Scanlon, the school district is in the process of developing its business education program through curricular and experiential learning opportunities.

Previously, the district was home to eight business teachers at Ward Melville High school, a figure that decreased to only two, Scanlon said. Now, the school has increased again to three teachers and plans to continue expanding.

Outside of the classroom, the district offers a work-based learning program and hosts 3V-IAB, which brings together students, parents, community members, administration and staff together to plan events such as the career fair.

Michael Ardolino, 3V-IAB chair and owner/broker at Realty Connect USA, said that in addition to hosting programs, the advisory board improves engagement between students and employers by gathering businesses’ feedback regarding students’ preparation for the workforce.

Littman and Scanlon both emphasized that students should keep open minds as they continue navigating potential career paths, with Littman noting that “approximately 65% of jobs that kids in sixth grade will have aren’t even established yet.”

“Kids are going to change their jobs multiple times before they retire,” Scanlon added. “They need to be open to that and be flexible to those opportunities.”

On March 30, 500 students and family members attended the Multi-Industry Career Exploration Fair at Ward Melville High School.

The event was organized by the Three Village Industry Advisory Board with tremendous ongoing support of Alan Baum, Three Village school district executive director for Human Resources and Secondary Curriculum, who along with 3V-IAB oversees the development and implementation of our programs.

As chair of 3V-IAB, I was thrilled to see a terrific turnout.

After the event, Ilene Littman, 3V-IAB co-chair and Ward Melville High School business teacher, and I were pleased to receive positive feedback from many who participated.

The advisory board has hosted the event for students in grades 7 through 12 for four consecutive years. After being held virtually last year, it was satisfying to see the career fair continue and take place in person, providing plenty of opportunities for students to interact with more than 80 businesses and organizations from various industries.

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich called it a “valuable partnership” for students and community members.

“It was evident that this was a tremendous undertaking involving hours of time and effort,” she said. “However, what was most clear was the enthusiasm and passion that the two of you and your student leaders exemplified in executing the program.” 

The number of students who helped organize the event this year was impressive. The committee members and I appreciate the volunteers from Student Government, DECA and the Robotics Department, as well as members of the Business, Family and Consumer Science, and Guidance departments. They played a big part in the career fair’s success.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, said it best after the fair: “The students’ organizational abilities rivaled any Fortune 500 company.”

One of the young people involved was 3V-IAB student liaison Savanna Pineros who said she felt this year’s career fair was a success.

“Many students were able to meet with a diverse array of businesses, representing a wide variety of fields,” she said. “Students were able to ask many questions and explore several career opportunities in a unique way.”

Grace Smrek, 3V-IAB student president for 2021-22, said, “Walking around this event, I could see our community coming together to support the students in discovering potential career paths. As the student president of this board, I am honored to have been a part of the most successful career fair yet.” 

Incoming 3V-IAB student president Justin Moore noted that this year’s career exploration fair “doubled any other career fair in the past, making it the largest one yet.” 

Since its inception, the 3V-IAB mission is to prepare teenagers for the careers of the future. Career exploration fairs have featured businesses from fields such as technology, finance, engineering, health care, hospitality, government and more. The advisory board feels it’s essential to educate students on all the opportunities available to them to prepare for their futures.

“By bringing together a wide spectrum of industries, we showed the innovators of tomorrow all of the varied opportunities that are possible for them,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich said, “I appreciate so many local professionals taking the time to help demonstrate the wide variety of options available to our students.”

One of those professionals, Vinny Menten, manager of Gabrielli Truck Sales and 3V-IAB board member, said the career exploration fair is “a huge value to students who are trying to make their way through life and gain the information necessary to make a good personal decision.”

Stan Abrahamsen, Chick-fil-A franchisee, said, “My two GMs really enjoyed all the interaction with the students as well as parents.”

I’m looking forward to the next 3V-IAB event, Money Talks, to be held May 25 during the school day. Colette Frey-Bitzas, director of financial planning for PPS Advisors, and Nicole Sarno, Webster Bank business managing director, will be heading up the presentation and interactive conversation with the students.

Frey-Bitzas describes Money Talks as the “secrets of success.” It’s not so much what you make but what you save.

“‘Save’ means so much more than what is put in the bank,” she said. “It’s understanding taxes and best places to put your money, so it works for you.”

There will be more to come next school year, and the board is looking forward to these events and planning them with the students. 

Michael Ardolino is the founder/owner-broker of Realty Connect USA.

Students take a career DNA test before talking to professionals. From Three Village Central School District

The Three Village Industry Advisory Board didn’t let a pandemic get in the way of its annual career fair for secondary school students in the school district.

Business owners, such as Michael Ardolino of Team Ardolino/Realty Connect USA, answered students questions virtually during the annual career fair. Photo from Three Village Central School District

On Jan. 14, the board, a partnership between the district and local businesses, presented its third annual career fair. The event gave students the opportunity to talk to local professionals after they took a “career DNA” test analysis to discover their strengths. However, instead of stopping by tables set up by business representatives, the teenagers checked into Google Meet sessions to take part in 20-minute seminars where professionals presented a quick overview of what their careers entailed and then gave the students a chance to ask questions.

To help participants to choose which sessions to attend, the career DNA results assigned each student a color for various strengths and businesses were also assigned the colors.

Ilene Littman, 3V-IAB coordinator and Ward Melville High School business teacher, said the fair provided students in grades 7-12 an opportunity “to explore and learn about careers in a virtual format.” This year 308 students registered, and 21 businesses participated. Students had the opportunity to learn about banking, real estate, dentistry, the medical and financial fields and more.

“Students navigated the virtual career fair based on their career DNA, which was matched up to businesses that shared similar traits to ensure those occupations/professions are uniquely suitable for each student,” Littman said. “Using this online platform to interact with business professionals was also excellent practice because it is most likely how today’s students will be screened in the initial stage of the interview process once they are ready to embark on their job searches to enter their chosen fields.”

Alan Baum, the school district’s executive director of Secondary Curriculum and Human Resources, said he was grateful for the work Littman put into organizing the event that he described as “tremendous.”

“Orchestrating such an event is difficult enough but bringing it to fruition during the pandemic and reimagining it as a virtual career fair was a herculean task,” he said.

Baum added he was also grateful for committee co-chair Michael Ardolino and all of the participating businesses that helped with the virtual career fair. Ardolino is also the founder and owner of Team Ardolino/Realty Connect USA.

“I am thrilled that we were able to provide our secondary students the opportunity to engage with a diverse representation of the business community in our continuing effort to help the students explore future career paths,” Baum said.

Ardolino said it was interesting to see the conversations that were going on in the different sessions and how well the virtual platform worked and could possibly lead to smaller presentations in the future such as a business owner talking about how to manage the company’s money and more.

Mike Lawton of Element Energy LLC noted there were more participants than he thought there would be, and the virtual format was perfect.

“I had some excellent questions from the students, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

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In an effort to encourage students to grow careers locally, the Three Village Central School District along with the Three Village Industry Advisory Board hosted the second annual career fair Jan. 6.

Close to 40 Long Island businesses were represented during the Growth Careers on Long Island event to speak with students and parents about fields such as technology, health care and trades. 

In preparation, students in grades 7-12 took a “career DNA” test analysis to reveal potential career paths that matched with their unique personalities. Based on a student’s career DNA results, they would go to color-coded tables and have the opportunity to engage with matched businesses. 

Ilene Littman, 3V-IAB coordinator and Ward Melville High School business teacher, thought the turnout for the event was great. 

“I think it is an advantage for students to know what’s available when they graduate,” she said. “We got a good turnout of businesses, and we are happy they are here.”

Michael Ardolino, 3V-IAB board chair, had similar sentiments. 

“We targeted three growth areas that are specifically on Long Island: health care, hands-on trades plumbing, electrical and different types of technology,” he said. “This is the second year we are doing this, and we are seeing that the students and parents are more engaged.”

Jake Shangold, student representative on the Three Village Industry Advisory Board, said the event gives students a chance to explore a variety of career paths.

“I hope they can come out of this event knowing what they may want to pursue in the future,” he said.

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File photo by Greg Catalano

Businesspeople are lending a hand in the Three Village Central School District to help students figure out the career path that’s the best fit for them.

Local businesses have partnered with the school district to form the Three Village Industry Advisory Board. Its first initiative is hosting the Ignite Your Career … Discover Your Opportunities career fair Jan. 9, which will give junior and senior high school students the opportunity to learn about potential career paths.

According to a press release from the school district, before the fair, students in grades seven through 12 will take a “career DNA” analysis called the Holland Code. The evaluation reveals career paths that correspond with a student’s personality which is denoted by different colors.

Michael Ardolino, owner of Realty Connect USA/Team Ardolino and co-chair of the advisory board, said the students who sit on the advisory board have contributed many exciting ideas.

He added all the businesses at the career fair will have a table marked with a color from the Holland Code corresponding with the personality that dominates its field, with minor colors that show other types that may be involved in the business.

Businesses are always looking for quality people, Ardolino said, and students can discover interesting information at the event about various fields of industry. One example is how the role of mechanics has changed to where computers are now widely used. Several businesses will also incorporate videos to educate attendees about their selected field.

Ardolino said the school district made the right move in opening the career fair to junior high school students.

“Let’s invite them all here so we can begin to enlighten them to the opportunities of what they can be doing with their lives,” he said.

The event could also be helpful for students to choose elective courses based on their interests and find clarity when it comes to college majors, according to the press release.

“We can learn much from our community partners on what businesses and postsecondary schools need most in terms of the skills that drive their success,” said Alan Baum, executive director of secondary, curriculum and human resources in the school district. “By collaborating with our partners we can learn from them to better inform our own instructional practices. By keeping our eyes open and listening to the business community and our postsecondary colleagues, we hope Three Village remains at the forefront of providing our students with a meaningful education, authentic experiences and equip them with the skills they need for future inquiry and success.”

The career fair will include more than three dozen businesses from across Long Island, including trades and crafts that are in high demand. Local companies participating include Competition Automotive Group, PPS Advisors, Gold Coast Bank, Atlantic Businesses Systems, Camco Services of NY, K&M Truck and Auto Repair, Journey Martial Arts, Equity First Foundation, Realty Connect USA/Team Ardolino, Stafford Associates, Vision World, ProSysCon Computer Technologies, Alternatives For Children, Stony Brook Child Care Services, Bagel Express, Holiday Inn Express, H2M Architects + Engineers, The Meadow Club, The Curry Club, The Meridian Financial Co., Jesco Brick & Concrete, Rossman Tax Service and Bliss restaurant.

The career fair will start at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 in the Ward Melville High School cafeteria.