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High school holds professionalism day

A local high school held a “Professionalism Day” where students learned how to conduct themselves as they seek internships and experience in law and finance.

The Bronx School of Law and Finance, located on the Kennedy Educational Campus at 99 Terrace View Avenue, held the event at the school on Friday, January 24.

Students dressed up in professional business attire and met with local executives to hone their interviewing, presentation and resume building skills, learning the best practices for building professional relationships.

Among the companies that sent speakers were Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Capital One Bank and the College of Westchester.

The school focuses on work-based learning, with students following a finance or legal track with an industry-focused curriculum.

The Professionalism Day was part of several work based opportunities that the school offers, including job shadowing, mock interviews and senior-year paid internships, said school finance department coordinator Xiomara Gonzalez.

“I think that it was really great for the students to have these professionals in the classroom to learn different aspects of business practice,” Gonzalez said. “I also think that it was wonderful for these professionals because they took away a more holistic sense of what students in the city they work in are like.”

The National Academy Foundation sponsors the school. NAF is a network of more than 500 business-oriented academies nationwide who prepare students to work in finance, law, hospitality and tourism, information technology and engineering.

In the city, NAF schools have around a 90% graduation rate, and 88% of their students go onto further study. By contrast, the citywide four-year graduation rate average is 63%.

The presentations during the Professionalism Day focused on topics like internship expectations, the job hunt, interviewing and e-mail etiquette, college planning, importance of saving and the definition of professionalism. The event coincided with the school’s monthly “Dress for Success” day, when all the students wear formal business attire.

Students also go on tours of places like public accounting offices, the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank as part of their curriculum. However, the school is trying to offer more events on campus as well, Gonzalez said.

For Kristen Dwyer-O’Connor of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, who made a presentation during the Professionalism Day about job interviewing, the event had special meaning.

Dwyer-O’Conner is a 2004 graduate of a NAF school in Seattle, Washington, and got her first internship at Morgan Stanley while an NAF student.

“Being part of this program in high school was my path to scholarships and internships, and ever since then I have wanted to give back to it,” Dwyer-O’Conner said. “A lot of students many not end up in finance, but at least they have a focus, and I think it increases their ambition and self- esteem, and their studies are all the better for it,”

She will now sit on an advisory board the school is creating to draw more connections between itself and the corporate community in law and finance.

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