What is Career Technical Education (CTE)?

Have you ever wondered what does CTE mean?

Did you know that MECA is a CTE school?

Take a look at this information graphic to understand what CTE stands for and what are the benefits of a CTE education.

Career Technical Education (CTE) provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners. In total, about 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE across the nation.
— Career Technical Education | Advance CTE https://careertech.org/cte

The Young Commodores by JORDAN CRAYTON

Ever since I started attending MECA, a career in the advertising industry has seemed like a possibility for me. The adults who talked to me and my peers during my freshman year repeatedly advised us that advertising was a great field to go into because it held a variety of job opportunities. So when I heard about the opportunity to have an internship at an advertising agency called J. Walter Thompson, I was intrigued. The day that Keni Thacker came to MECA, he described a plan for his ‘Young Commodores’ that no one had attempted before; put a diverse group of high schoolers and college students together to create an advertisement campaign. Keni’s comical yet persuasive presentation convinced me to apply, so I got an application, and went through the entire process, hoping I would be chosen.

Jordan at work at JWT with her team.

Jordan at work at JWT with her team.

A few weeks later, I received an email from Keni cementing my status as a Young Commodore. On the first day of the internship, Keni assigned everyone a team to be anpart of, just like in an actual agency. I was put on the creative team, along with a sophomore at MECA and three college students who attended Miami Ad School. For the first few weeks, we were treated to presentations by our mentors from each team who would be guiding us through the campaign creating process. They offered their unique experiences of getting into the industry, and reinforced my beliefs of how lucky I was to be attending a school like MECA and to have this internship. We also got our first project; to create a video about the Young Commodores and what it meant to all of us. Every team had individual parts to work on, and the creatives--along with the production team--filmed the different segments of the video, and did all of the editing. I was able to see the true process of creation, something I would surely be seeing in my future.

The moment that we had all been anxiously waiting for came about midway through the internship. Keni finally announced that the organization we were going to be working for was the Discover Outdoors Foundation, who provide inner-city kids a chance to explore the outdoors.  This was the turning point of my time at JWT, and when things started kicking into high gear.  We had ‘creative jam sessions’ so to speak, and brainstormed ideas for the commercial, based on the the insights from the Planning and Account Management teams.  Our team was assisted by mentors Chris, Tom and Mo, who gave us their professional opinions on our ideas, and told us how to improve them. We sat in on video calls and in-person meetings with the client, and gave them the run down of our ideas, until we all unanimously agreed on one-- Put four kids from the city out in nature, and document their day as they navigated through the outdoors with no electronics, calling it PROJECT [DIS]CONNECT.  We wanted to show that the outdoors helped kids connect with themselves, the world and others. Then, it was time for the real production. We mapped out the individual scenes that we thought would look good in the commercial and what exact words we wanted to say to try to convey our story and our message. We brought these concepts to life when my team went to the filming location. I was not there to help direct, but I was able to look at all the shots and takes that we got, and determine which ones would be best for the five videos we decided to make (One for the entire experience, and four extras to focus on the unique perspectives of each actor) and decide on the music choices. By the end, we tied everything all together, and showcased our final deck, complete with our five videos for the client.

During my time at JWT, I learned so many important skills and lessons. I got to follow the ad campaigning process, and see what it entails. I also was able to see what a proper advertising presentation looked like, not just looking at the examples I saw in my Intro to Advertising and Visual Thinking I classes. On a more personal note, this internship helped me get in touch with myself. Before I was a Young Commodore, I never felt like a creative person. I always thought that everyone’s artistic skills surpassed mine, and It wasn’t until I started working with the creative team that I channeled my inner creativity. It was also at JWT where one of the college students in my team helped me figure out that I might possibly want to be a copywriter when I’m older. Additionally, the mentors helped me realize that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you want it to, and you can be taken to unexpected places, but you have to make the most of it.

Young Commodores, Spring 2017

Young Commodores, Spring 2017

Being a Young Commodore was an amazing experience. I was able to learn insights about the advertising world, and put that back into everything I did at school, whether it was an advertising competition, or just a simple class presentation. This internship at JWT helped me make new friends and also network with professionals in the industry, which will definitely help advance my career. This internship gave me something to brag about during my freshman year (and currently as well), and put on my resume, so I can get more jobs like this one. All in all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity Keni Thacker provided me with, and I hope I get to work with the Young Commodores again.

Here is the video "Project [Dis}Connect by the JWT Young Commodores, Spring 2017

Jordan CraytonDSC04712.jpg

JORDAN CRAYTON is a 15 year-old sophomore at Manhattan Early College School for Advertising and is working towards a career in Copywriting. Jordan has recently taken introductory courses in advertising and graphic design, and puts this knowledge and experience into connecting people with advertisements.  During her freshman year, Jordan landed an internship at J. Walter Thompson working with Keni Thacker as a Young Commodore, won the 2017 4A’s ReACT competition with her team and participated in a Museum of Art in Design intensive, acting as a tour guide. Jordan is currently taking classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College as a part of her high school’s curriculum.

How much does it cost to live on your own in NYC?

As students start to plan their career path, they will need to consider their aspirations for the future. Not only what career would they like to have, but what are their lifestyle needs?

Where do you want to live? In a house? In an apartment? Do you see yourself living in a big city? Or maybe you prefer a suburb or like being out in the country?

It is important to determine if your lifestyle aspirations can be supported by the wages you can earn in your chosen career. 


Do you know how much it costs to live where you would like to be? What is the rent for a one or two bedroom apartment? How much does it cost to buy food or for transportation?

If you are considering living on your own in New York City, here is a good article about two young men who are going to college at NYU who wanted to live on their own while they went to NYU.

How much does it cost to start living on your own in NYC?







As 2018 kicks off, I’ve made the realization that so much has changed since initially coming to MECA in 2014. The past four years at MECA have flown by, and yet it feels like yesterday that the journey here started. Four years ago, I, like many, came to this school with hopes that it would be a risk worth taking. Coming out of middle school, my dream career was to be an architect and design skyscrapers, not create briefs - I didn’t even know what a brief was, or any of the terminology so commonly used in the industry. MECA didn’t waste time introducing me to an industry that I’ve grown to love and appreciate. MECA opens doors to places hiding in plain sight and it does this through the Work-Based Learning program, or WBL.

WBL starts as soon as freshman year, laying down the framework for what the coming years have in store. MECA emphasizes the importance of learning and strengthening skills in the classroom that will be beneficial in the workplace, such as time management, public speaking, and the ability to network. These professional soft skills are crucial in today’s workplace environment and, speaking from experience, they are all useful when going out as an intern. Field trips to industry offices and studios give you the opportunity to meet and keep in contact with people who work in the industry; these people can become personal friends and mentors.

2014 Career Fair at Cooper Hewitt Museum

2014 Career Fair at Cooper Hewitt Museum

2015 Ambassadors

2015 Ambassadors

You don’t realize how much you know until you’re put in the position. The skills I’ve learned were definitely useful in the world of work. I had the opportunity to intern at The Museum of Art and Design, a place where I put to use the skills that I was being taught at MECA. Thinking critically and collaborating with others was something I was doing daily. It was engaging and rewarding. That was the first time I had a paid internship, and it wasn’t the last. I left the museum with an appreciation for the arts, a thorough understanding of how museums work, and a group of people that will be lifelong friends.

Working at The American Association of Advertising Agencies tested my abilities to work independently and work with hard deadlines. I was the first MECA intern ever and it meant a lot to me that I had the privilege to be there. Working at the 4A’s was the first time I actually saw myself working in the industry; I wanted to be there. I had the opportunity to meet people with decades of experience and people who were just starting off. It was amazing to be exposed to that -  to meet individuals who had so much to offer and to be recognized as someone with potential, especially at the age of sixteen. WBL puts you ahead of the curve. That curve influenced my experience at my next internship: Tribal DDB Worldwide.

Working at Tribal was unlike anything I had experienced before. I was working alongside a dozen interns. Aside from a fellow MECA peer, the rest were college students, or recent college graduates in their twenties. It was intimidating because it felt like we were seen as ‘out of place’, like we didn’t belong because we were so young. It can get to you - you can feel out of place in times like these, but I knew I belonged there. The skills that were taught are not always considered common or routine. To be so young and to be able to outperform fresh out of college interns is something extraordinary. WBL does that. That was the first time I had to pitch ideas in meetings, and design content for mockups. I was doing what I had once thought was just a far off thought of a possible career. I was an Account Manager for a summer and I am so thankful I got to do that before I go off to college. Which brings me to the now.

2016 4A's Face of Talent Job Fair

2016 4A's Face of Talent Job Fair

I am a senior at MECA. I am also a member of the Middlebury College class of 2022, which I owe in part to MECA. I was nominated for the Posse Scholarship by the guidance department, and I wholeheartedly believe that what set me apart from the other candidates was the experience that I had, and the skills that I used during the interview process. The first round of the Posse scholarship is roughly one hundred teenagers from the New York City area working together in groups performing activities. The ability to think critically and to communicate, something I learned at MECA, was what essentially allowed me to move on to the second round. Roughly half of 3500 applicants make it to the second round. The second interview is a one-on-one, and so the ability to use your public speaking skills to relate to the interviewers and to express yourself was something that I was able to do with ease. I explained my interest in Middlebury and what made me who I am, and this led to the final interview. From the remaining applicants, each school interviews twenty finalists for the ten spots available. At this point, you’re among the best of the best of the best in the city. Everyone at that interview could have had the scholarship, and I was one of the ten to receive it. I truly believe that everything that I have done led me to this point. All of the internships, all of the exposure I received showed during this final interview. After the final three hour interview, I went home and hoped for the best. I got a phone call at 10:39 that same night, and on the phone was one of the officers of admission welcoming me to the Middlebury class of 2022. The realization still hasn’t fully sunk in; you can never anticipate when the time comes and you’re moving on to your next destination. I knew it would happen, but I just never thought it would happen so soon.

2016 CUNY Microsoft Reactor Meeting

2016 CUNY Microsoft Reactor Meeting

For years, college felt like a far off place, somewhere far from reality, and yet here it is. I’m going to school without the heavy burden of having to figure out how to pay for it. I will forever be thankful for the family I have at MECA, the community that watched me grow for the past four years. The skills taught here helped me, and they will help you - the reader. If you’re a current MECA student, take advantage of it. If you’re an employer, or mentor, or sponsor willing to take part in what we’re doing - thank you. Young people need the chance to do great things and as someone who has benefited greatly, I can only hope others have that opportunity to work at amazing companies and institutions like I have. The last thing I’ll say is don’t just network, build relationships! Shyly asking someone for a business card is nice, but chances are people will forget who you are unless you build and maintain a professional network, make a LinkedIn profile, and add the people you meet along the way - you never know when you’ll need someone you’ve previously met to be that connection to someone you haven’t. To the MECA student reading this, do yourself a favor and make that LinkedIn profile, thoughtfully fill it out, and start adding people to your network. Feel free to add me.


PAUL FLORES-CLAVEL is the Senior class President at The Manhattan Early College school for Advertising. Paul is a recipient of the Posse Scholarship and will be attending Middlebury College in the fall. He will be pursuing a degree in International Politics and Economics.

Building My Career by JEFRY LOPEZ RINCON

As a student in New York City public schooling system where competition is relentless, I am lucky to say that I have acquired many experiences that people my age can’t say they have received. At Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA), I was assigned many projects that required the use of visual thinking. Though my art skills needed to be developed further, my art teacher Ms. Sun noticed my tenacity, and knack for creating and delivering exceptional presentations. Ms. Sun worked with me and recommended that I apply for lan internship that I would never forget.

 In January, MECA offers intensives where students can choose from a multitude of classes such as internship prep, website design and creative writing. These intensives enable students to acquire professional soft skills that are truly beneficial.  In January 2016, I participated in an intensive at Museum of Art and Design (MAD) were I learned how to give museum tours. At the end, we were told about a great summer internship at the Museum called "Artslife". I applied and was one of the ten students selected for the this program out of four hundred interviewed.

January 2016, Jefry and his team collecting information to use in the museum tour.

January 2016 at MAD Museum Intensive, Jefry's first experience at the museum learning about the goals of the intensive (left) and working with his team to gather information to be used in their museum tour.

This internship was eye-opening to me, not only did I meet people from around the world,  I was also able enhance my communication skills. With my newfound ability to network, doors continued to open for me. When I finished the internship I got a call from my supervisor (Julia) and she offered me another job during spring break, explaining that I would be in chargepp of training six New York City high school teens on how to improve their public speaking skills. Through teaching others, I became a more eloquent and dynamic speaker. More importantly, I was able to catapult my leadership skills. I am more responsible, more observant and I strive to inspire and help others achieve their goals.

My leadership skills were also observed by my supervisor. She was so impressed that she promoted me to student leader for the Artslife program. There was no greater feeling than accelerating from a mentee to a mentor. I now teach the  interns at the museum how to make elevator pitches that will lead to them finding new internships so that they can advance in the workplace.

These wonderful and amazing experiences have been a blessing.  I have had the opportunity to attend many galas, charity events and other networking socials. My strong foundation of work-based learning at MECA is the catalyst to my  incredible opportunities.  I am grateful to MAD and MECA for educating me and guiding me, I am confident that this is only the beginning of my successful career.


jefry portrait.jpg

JEFRY LOPEZ RINCON is a student at the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising. He has interned at the Museum of Arts and Design and at the advertising agency JWT in their Young Commodores program. A hard working individual, Jefry believes that if you set your mind to something and work hard you can become a successful person in life . At MECA Jefry is a school ambassador and an honor student. This fall he lead our first student team to compete in the Ad Futures competition. As an outstanding student who has consistently demonstrated interest in a business career he is one of 19 MECA students who were awarded a 4A's Advertising Internship for Juniors in January 2018.

NETWORKING: Building a community to support your life and career

Its' official, today is the first day the WBL blog goes live. 

Today also happens to be the first day of our spring semester of the fourth year of MECA. Pretty soon the weather will get warmer. Before we know it June will be here and our legacy cohort will have their high school graduation.

Once upon a time, only 5 years ago MECA was an idea on a piece paper. The challenge for our faculty has been to make this paper come to life. How to build a public high school that is both an early college and CTE school that accelerates learning so students can earn 30 college credits by the end of their senior year of high school. What works? What fits the needs of our students and their families?

As the WBL coordinator I have been working to deliver on the promise of making sure our students have received professional training and opportunities to build their career path. Now with over 300 students its not so easy to meet with everyone face to face. So I decided that perhaps a blog could be my virtual classroom/bulletin board/newsletter to reach all the members of our community. 

I hope you will find this blog useful. Best wishes for the new year!

Ms. Carol Sun
MECA's Work-based Learning Coordinator

Work Based Learning with the legacy class, April 2017. "Breakfast with the Boss" a networking event.

Work Based Learning with the legacy class, April 2017. "Breakfast with the Boss" a networking event.

Lynne Pono in brown shirt.

Lynne Pono in brown shirt.

Sha Sha in white shirt and black jacket.

Sha Sha in white shirt and black jacket.


What happens when a student from MECA joins an Ad industry panel on influencers? FIRE. 

On January 18, 2018, the Advertising Club of NY sponsored a panel discussion in a series designed to highlight and understand influencers and their power in media.  Hosted in the KBS media agency offices, the discussion titled The Next Rise of the Gen Narrators Event: What the @?!*;! is an influencer? sought to define what exactly an "influencer" is and how to reach their loyal audience.

Through MECA's partnerships with Mr. Benoit and the 4A's, MECA Junior, Isabell Rambarran, received an invitation to the event, not as a member of the audience but, as an influencer and member of the panel! 

Despite being the only HS student on the panel, Bell quickly showed she belonged alongside industry pros by taking the stage front-and-center, literally and figuratively, as she answered panel questions, gave her opinions, and offered insights into the mind of influencers and the millennial generation and the relationship between them, while showing poise and shinning in the spotlight, in true MECA fashion.

The discussion was moderated by Gbenga Obafemi, an artist/filmmaker, and creative culturist. Other panelists included Kelly Augustine, influencer and marketing consultant, Tom Bontempo, President of Attention Global, Joseph Segarra, Lifestyle Marketing and Promotions at Def Jam Records, and Dahcia Lyons-Bastien, Co-Founder and CMO of Shade Agency and Boogie.com.

[Insert info and link to MECA WBL resources and Ambassador application links.]

Panelists introduce themselves.

Bell offers her insights into the influencer's relationship to their audience and the channels with which the engage with.
Bell defines authenticity in the social media landscape and content creation as it relates to audiences.
Bell discusses the responsibility an influencer has to their audience.
Bell sets the record straight on the role of youth in society and their ability to lead into the future.
Bell talks about brand appeal and what that means.

Bike New York 

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunity for Students Ages 16 and Up


Bike New York offers free bike education classes to teach adults and children how to ride for the first time, advanced bike mechanics, and everything in between. The organization’s Learn to Ride and Bicycling Basics classes are offered in all five boroughs, and they are all taught with help from volunteers. To help out with one of these classes, new volunteers are asked to attend a one-hour training session to learn about Bike New York and its method of teaching. Trainings begin in March and last through the fall. Volunteers must be 16 or older on the day of the class, and high school students are asked to volunteer at children’s classes. Bike New York is also looking for volunteers for its rides and events.

Click here to make a volunteer profile and sign up for a Volunteer Training.

Click here to learn about all of their volunteer opportunities.

MECA BMCC STUDENTS: win an ipad contest


See previous i-Pad winners bellow. See featured 2nd and 3rd place winners at Fb album2014-20152015-2016


Winner 2015-16 Challenge

Winner 2015-16 Challenge


Use your camera to capture a compelling moment at CUNY and win an iPad! Enter our monthly student photo competition, generally by the 25th of every month — now through May. If CUNY’s judges pick you as the monthly winner, you and your photo will be featured during the following month on the cuny.edu homepage billboard, each month contest winners page,Instagram,  Twitter and CUNY Facebook, which also will show two runners-up. In June, all CUNY students will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite monthly winner to decide which is the best student photo of the year. The winner will receive an iPad.

What judges look for: Our panel of professional photographers, editors and graphic artists looks for images that say something about our students, faculty, staff, a CUNY college or a campus activity. The judges favor images that tell stories, including human interest. They reserve the right to not choose a winner in a month that does not have strong images. Please view the full official rules page for more specific details.

Hint: We suggest that contestants look at past monthly winners to get a sense of what CUNY judges have liked — but please do something original! Use the links available on the left side of  this page. See below for the previous iPad winners.



Girls Who Code Summer Program

Girls Who Code Free Summer Immersion Program
Early acceptance Deadline: February 16th
Application Deadline: March 16th
NYC Program Dates: July 2 - August 17; July 9 - August 24

Visit Girls Who Code's website

Contact for questions or to schedule an info session:

 Raquel Cardona for Brooklyn/Queens

GeorgieAnn Getton McKoy for Manhattan/Bronx

Girls Who Code's Summer Immersion Program is a FREE 7-week summer program for 10th–11th grade girls (rising juniors and seniors) to learn computer science, gain exposure to tech jobs, and join a supportive sisterhood of thousands of girls across the US!  The Summer Immersion Program is an introductory Computer Science course, and no previous experience is required. We welcome all eligible applicants who have an interest in technology and a willingness to learn!  In the Summer Immersion Program, your students will learn about:

  • Tech Companies -- They’ll meet female engineers and get an inside look at technical roles in the world’s top companies.
  • Project-based learning -- They’ll learn computer science through real-world projects in art and storytelling, robotics, video games, websites, apps and more!
  • Sisterhood -- They’ll work in teams and make lifelong friendships with a supportive and diverse community of thousands of girls.

In addition to providing a free program, Girls Who Code provides summer stipends to cover transportation and living costs for stipend-eligible Summer Immersion Program students! Students can apply here.

Historically Black Colleges Tour!


Application Deadline: February 16, 2018

Tour Dates: April 1-6, 2018 (during spring break)

Cost to attend: $425

Contact Ibrahim Diakite (212-912-2125) with any questions

To apply for consideration: https://harlemymca.wufoo.com/forms/2018-bai-annual-college-tour-application/ 

The Harlem YMCA application process for the annual Harlem YMCA bai (Achievers In Industry Corporate Scholarship Program) College Tour is now open to all New York City high school sophomores, juniors and seniors! The bai College tour is an annual trip that allows the Harlem YMCA to take 40 college bound high school students to visit a number of Historical Colleges & Universities. Each year the itinerary changes, but some of the regular stops include: Hampton University, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, Clark Atlanta University, North Carolina A&T and more!


This year we will also visit Fisk University and Tennessee State University as well. The goal of the bai College tour is to give inner city college bound students, an opportunity to experience a college campus setting outside of New York. The tour also serves as a way to help assist students make a final decision on which colleges they would like to apply to and attend. Students must be a current high school junior or senior and will need to submit one essay, a high school transcript or most recent report card, resume, copy of health insurance, and professional head shot. Candidates will also need to go through an interview (taking place February 17-23, 2018). Please note, there is a tour fee of $425 per student. This covers the cost of transportation and hotel room accommodations for the entire duration of the trip. If you have any students interested in the tour, please share this link for the application.

The World of Work in the 21st Century

The world of work in the 21st century is radically different from your parents' and grandparents' versions. The ways we work and where we work have been greatly changed by technology (the "gig" economy, robotics, artificial intelligence). 

Many experts are predicting in the next 25 years a large percentage of jobs will cease to exist due to increasing automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. However, there will be a great need for workers to be highly literate in technology, business, and creativity. 

How will these workforce trends affect your career and life goals?

  • How is your dream career(s) impacted by these changes.
  • What is the job outlook for this career? (Will it exist ten years from now?)
  • How much will this career pay?
  • Is this enough money to pay for my lifestyle and dreams?

World of Work

(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Join a group of middle schools students as they try and figure out what kind of jobs will best suit them. Qualcomm has developed tools to help students identify their strengths, interests and values so they can start thinking about their future in the world of work.

How the World of Work is Changing

The workplace of today looks dramatically different to the workplace of yesteryear. Besides obvious technological changes - computers replacing typewriters and machines replacing people - social change has ushered more women into what used to be predominantly a man's world. To review our full study please visit - http://www.nextgeneration.ie/how-the-world-of-work-is-changing


Are you an animal lover and curious about working with animals?

Apply Now for Exciting Animal Care Internship this Spring Break!

Current high school students in grades 10-12 can apply for an exciting animal care internship at the Genovesi Environmental Study Center (GESC). Do you appreciate and respect animals? Do you want to learn how to take care of them? The Animal Care Intern will work with GESC staff to feed, clean, and enrich our animals and their homes. GESC is looking for students who are excited about working closely with animals, can multitask efficiently, and are enthusiastic about learning.


Prospective interns are required to interview for their position at GESC.

We are located at 7151 Avenue T, Brooklyn, NY 11234. (near Sheepshead Bay).

Interviews will be approximately 30 minutes long between the hours of 8:00am-2:00pm on February 20, 21, or 22, 2018

Application deadline is Tuesday, February 9. 

Click  here to apply. Don’t miss out, apply now!


This is a wonderful internship for students who have participated in our MAD Museum Intensives. Since our first museum intensive in January 2015, one MECA student has been awarded an Artslife internship each summer.

This internship is a great stepping stone for your career. How often can you put a world famous museum internship on your resume? Are you the next Artslife intern?

Artslife is a paid summer internship program for rising sophomores and juniors in high school that combines art and design with leadership training, museum studies, and community engagement. Participants are introduced to museum careers such as Curatorial, Education, Development, Public Relations and Marketing, Visitor Services, Security, and Registrar. During the initial week, participants get to know one another and meet museum staff. During the remaining six weeks, participants work on collaborative projects with Museum staff, local designers, and arts professionals who act as mentors. Students enjoy first-hand experience and the broadest possible exposure to ongoing museum activities, both public facing and behind-the-scenes. 

Artslife interns will:

  • Learn about careers in the arts
  • Create artwork with local and visiting artists in the Artists’ Studios
  • Develop and teach peer-to-peer tours
  • Build and strengthen presentation, communication, and public speaking skills
  • Visit other cultural institutions in New York City
  • Interns are paid $13.00 an hour

Click on the image below to access the application.

The application deadline is March 31, 2018

The Museum of Arts and Design, MAD MUSEUM is a world famous museum dedicated to presentation of trends and issues found in the art and design world. Located at Columbus Circle near Central Park, MAD has partnered with MECA since 2015 for our MAD Museum Intensive. This intensive gives freshmen the opportunity to spend 5 consecutive afternoons learning how to have a conversation about the works on view. At the last session, students lead a museum tour to the public. This intensive has helped many of our students gain confidence in public speaking and become more knowledgable about creativity and museums.



What is your Creative Awakening Moment? by KENI THACKER

Your Creative Awakening Moment is when an idea will not let you rest. A creative awakening moment is when an idea is so good you can’t wait to email or text someone the idea. You simply have to call someone and say, “I’ve got it!” Your Creative Awakening Moment is the cure for whatever’s blocking your creative process. The beauty of it is that it can happen anywhere and at any time.

pexels-photo-634043 (1).jpeg

It can happen to you on the subway (actually where I get a lot of my ideas). This piece came to me in my actual sleep and got me out of my bed to write it down. However, earlier in that day I went out for a 3 mile run and simply cleared my mind of everything.

So there are a few factors you have to consider and execute. First, always create things that bring you joy. Also, your creation should be able to provide a solution that can bring others joy as well. Second, figure out the right stimulus for your brain at the beginning of every day. Brain stimuli can be felt through your senses (i.e. touch, taste, sound, smell and sight). Use them all. These are all components we need to take into consideration when creating your masterpieces. Being inspired sometimes isn’t easy. Always remember everyone does not interpret and retain information the same way. 


Here’s a fact. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health. My opinion when it comes to this random fact is do what works best for you. I've learned one thing from my beautiful daughter and that's all naps matter. But I digress.

Here are some steps that get to the Creative Awakening Moment.

Step One. Take notes.

Your Creative Awakening Moment can come out of a simple conversation with someone. It is super important not to look like a super nerd writing down tidbits of your conversation while you're having the conversation, so, later on, flesh out the idea. Mental notes are clutch when trying to find ideas. 



Step Two. Seize the moment.

When your Creative Awakening Moment hits you, it will not wait for you or anyone to seize it. You must get it done. Whether it's writing a story, a song or drawing a picture. Strike while the iron is hot. Even if it’s all rough drafts at least it’s a start.

Step Three. Collaboration is the key to cohesive thoughts. © Keni Thacker

When that Creative Awakening Moment hits, it might generate out of not only you, but also the person you're working with. Don't fight the feeling -  collaborate to bring this moment to full fruition. Some of my best ideas have come from conversations I've had with people and what I've taken away from those conversations. Don’t look at it as jacking an idea, but the using the impression that interaction had on you. Remember that while collaborating you might have to compromise a little of your moment to make the idea bigger and better. Do not fight the idea of growth, it'll only hurt your vision in the long run. Also, remember there’s strength in numbers. Alone you’re great, but with an alliance, you have the potential to be greater. Everybody can’t pull a Beyonce’ and become super successful going solo.



Step Four. Don’t want to be like Mike. Be like Quincy.

What do I mean by this? Take your time. We all know how great it feels to think we have a game changer on our hands and this is going to be our ticket out of our creative rut. But you must shape and cultivate this moment with a precise vision to make it into exactly what you want. Treat it like poker and be strategic about it and never overplay our hand (I hope that's right. I don't really play cards). For creative inspiration, I always tell my mentees to think of themselves like Quincy Jones making Thriller with Michael Jackson and they're on the verge of introducing the world to a new sound. So don't be like Mike; be like Quincy. Fact. Thriller sold 120 million copies worldwide.

Step Five. Own it.

Own your moment. This is your moment, your time to be whatever it is you want it to be. Don't squander it away with doubt and negative past experiences. We’re all guilty of it now and then. Remember that you were placed in this position for a reason, so own it. Every single second of it. God (or whomever you believe in) did not bring you this far to fail, so own this moment. Listen when he or she is speaking through you. This is your moment.

Keni and Ms. Sun at his agency JWT last spring at our REACT student advertising competition.

Keni and Ms. Sun at his agency JWT last spring at our REACT student advertising competition.

All of these steps may or may not work for everyone in this order, so picking and choosing which one works best for your process can easily get you across the creative finish line to greatness. Just always remember: Rome wasn’t built in one day. And believe me that creativity is not a perfect science, but more of a hodgepodge of flaws made into beautiful art.

Keni Thacker Portrait.png

KENI THACKER There are five types of thinkers: creative thinkers, analytical thinkers, intuitive thinkers, logical thinkers and visionary thinkers. Keni Thacker has defied the belief that an individual can only be one of those types, and truly encompasses all five. He consistently seeks out opportunities to challenge himself and his ways of thinking by single-handedly producing events, programs and content and effectively championing the Differenter effort for the J. Walter Thompson New York office in 2011.

Keni is a pioneer of change and is committed to expanding diversity efforts, and the impact he has made on future leaders does not go unnoticed. A true exemplar of leadership, Keni an award winning influencer and diversity advocate devoted to outreach programs and mentorship.

Some of his accomplishments include: leading the TORCH program by providing career training to under-served students in NYC, mentoring for the 4A’s multi cultural advertising intern program, Camp Mariah, The High School of Innovations and Media and the Manhattan Early College of Advertising and leading Differenter.

On February 8th, 2017, he launched the Young Commodores program, a diversity initiative that provides college and high school ad students with an opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real-life advertising and business. Keni is a powerful force and a creative soul. He is also the executive producer, writer and creator of the short documentaries “Innovators of Change, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015”, “Hablamos,” “Perfiles and Perfiles II” and the web series "24/7 Differenter."

He is also the KREATOR at his own diversity centric production company called K.R.E.A.T.E. (Kulture is a Relevant Element To Achieve Total Equality) which produces content that focuses on highlighting the achievements of incredible people changing the face of their respective industries, while dismissing the perception of negativity and stereotypes when it pertains to people of color. He has also been named as one of the 4A's 100 People That Make Adverting Great. Keni is the ultimate example of an individual dedicated to making a change in today's society and today's youth and helping us all think differently.

SUMMER INTERNSHIP: Ladders for Leaders


2018 Ladders for Leaders Program Applications Open
Program Period:  July-August 2018
For more information: NYC Ladders for Leaders
For the application: https://application.nycsyep.com/ 

Ladders for Leaders is a nationally recognized program that offers high school and college students the opportunity to participate in paid professional summer internships with leading corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies in New York City. The program is an initiative of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and supported by the NYC Center for Youth Employment and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Ladders for Leaders gives students a unique opportunity to explore their interests and discover new ones through:

✔ Pre-employment Training: Receive help with résumé and cover letter writing, and interviewing skills. Learn essential workplace readiness skills and business etiquette.

✔ Paid Summer Internships: Paid internship opportunities are available in a variety of industries to accommodate student interests.

✔ Opportunity to join a growing Alumni Network: Broad network of alumni, post-internship opportunities and networking events are open only to past participants of the program.

Eligibility Requirements
✔ Youth between the ages of 16-22 who are enrolled in high school or college
✔ A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00
✔ Resident of one of the five boroughs of New York City
✔ Anyone with prior work experience, either paid or volunteer
✔ Legally allowed to work in New York City

Applications are evaluated based on academic performance, response to an essay question and résumé. Please click here to learn more or share this link for the application process with your students. 


10 Benefits of an Internship

1.     An internship can provide a student with paid professional work experience in a safe and structured environment with help from experts. Typically an intern will be assigned a worksite mentor and school based internship coordinator. The worksite mentor will help train a student and advise him or her on how to navigate a particular worksite culture and interact with other workers. The school internship coordinator helps the mentor and student build a strong relationship that will help the intern have positive outcomes from their internship experience. The internship coordinator can also help the student learn how to manage their expectations and implement successful work habits.

MECA interns shine at their jobs at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum, July 2017

MECA interns shine at their jobs at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum, July 2017

2.     At an internship, a student can practice and improve their industry skills while also learning how to work. Students can gain a better understanding of how what they are learning in school can help them with their future.

3.     Internships help students master professional soft skills such as communication, punctuality and time management. These are skills that are key for success at a job and college and are highly sought after by companies. Many employers complain that there are few candidates with excellent soft skills.

MECA interns at their summer job at the Children's Museum of Art, August 2017

MECA interns at their summer job at the Children's Museum of Art, August 2017

4.     At an internship, a student can learn what the roles and responsibilities of a particular career are from people working in the field. What sort of projects do they work on? What skills and knowledge do they need to perform this job?  Where did they get their education?

5.     An internship can be a real confidence builder for a student. Being successful in the real world can inspire a student to work harder at school, and be more willing to take on challenges or be outside of his/her comfort zone.

6.     Having successfully completed an internship makes a job candidate more attractive to employers. Many companies prefer to hire students who have completed internship programs. This is because many interns have better work habits, possess excellent soft skills, and have higher technical and industry skills since they have received formal job training and professional guidance.

7.     An internship can help a student start to build a professional network that can be a resource for the student. A network can help a student make well-informed decisions about their career and connect them with other professionals or opportunities that will help a student achieve success in a field.


The Works In Progress internship provided the opportunity to learn about the business of t-shirt printing with emphasis on design and production.

8.     Completing an internship also makes a student a more attractive candidate for colleges and scholarships. Having “real world” work experience shows a college or scholarship panel that a student has a clear set of goals that they are actively working towards. Demonstrating commitment and follow through demonstrates a high level of maturity, responsibility, and willingness to do what it takes to be successful.

9.     An internship can help a student decide if a particular career is a good match for their personality, lifestyle, passions and goals. This way a student can avoid spending time and money on training for a career that does not really suit their abilities or needs.

10.  By successfully completing an internship, a student can obtain a positive recommendation that can be used for future employers, college admission and scholarship applications.