CCNY Class of 2019 Freshman Convocation Speech by Kenny Soto

CCNY Freshman Convocation Speech: Class of 2019


Introduction

Hello there everybody.

My name’s Kenny Soto and today I’m gonna give a little speech about what City College has to offer and what student government can do for you.

So I am gonna start off with a little story. I was born in the Castle Hill projects of the Bronx and at the age of six years old I was constantly told that I’d never succeed. I was even in special education for the first four years because I, “wasn’t fit for a classroom setting.” And now I’m here speaking to all of you.

Background at CCNY

You’re gonna constantly hear about the great resources, successful alumni, and all of the classes that you can take here at City College. But, I want to also remind you that you will be challenged and with challenges can come some doubts.

When I first started here I was a biology major, and I was studying biology to become a doctor; to make my parents happy. And then I realized that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay and learn from this experience here at City College. So now I’m a music major and I couldn’t be any more (nervous much??? haha) happier.

Some of you may even think that college is not for you and you might want to drop out…I too thought the same. My sophomore year I was deeply considering this until I realized that there’s so much more outside of your courses. You are not here simply to get an amazing GPA. I joined a fraternity, got involved in club life, and even joined student government and everything completely shifted.

What CCNY & student government can offer you

Your purpose here besides getting a degree is to learn. And this does not mean simply going to class and then going to work or hanging out with friends. This means as VP Reina said, look to your left and look to your right and realizing you can learn from your fellow student body as well.

Discover the amazing people that are here. Interact with faculty outside of classrooms, go to some events, and interact with student government. Because this is what we are here to do; we are here to represent you as the student body. If you ever need or feel the need to speak to student government about any issues you may have or any improvements you see that should happen, feel free to come to us in the North Academic Center and reach out to us (or just hang out).

Takeaway

Now there’s one thing that I want to say from a philosopher by the name of J. Krishnamurti who states, “The purpose of education is not to add accolades to your name or further your position in society. The purpose of true education is to enrich the experiences and relationships that you have with the universe and with yourself.”

Thank you.

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Cost Of College

The Cost of College: 4 Things You Should Be Doing So You Don’t Waste Your Money

The College Journey…

Here’s a familiar story. You just finished high school, and you’re excited to begin the next part of your journey. The majority of your peers have all gone to different colleges so you’ll be entering this new stage of your life on your own (or maybe with at least another friend). As a college freshman, all of us barely knew what was going on when we started our new journey, and we needed to cram a lot of information into our heads before we started our classes.

The cost of college is tremendous. Here are four pieces of advice every college student (especially freshman) should know, so they don’t waste their money and most importantly their time:

1. Meet People & Leverage Relationships

I have heard this line countless times during freshman year, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters.” This may be true but, only to a certain extent. What is truly important is who knows you. You can know a countless number of people before graduating college but, if none of those people are valuable connections who can’t remember who you are, you can’t leverage any of the opportunities they might be able to offer. It is or you to make sure you are making your mark on campus. When meeting someone always ask, “How can I bring value to this person?” Doing this will help solidify that you’re not only thinking about yourself but that you care about the other person. Only after you’ve created value for the person should you then ask them for a favor (the usual one being a connection to a job or some other opportunity).

2. Join a Club or Organization

I believe the majority of valuable information anyone can attain from their college experiences doesn’t just come from their professors, it comes from peers. Once you graduate and join the workforce, no matter what your career choice may be, you will begin to work as a member of a team. The best way to gain prior experience in working in a team (outside of college sports) is to join a club or organization. You will gain invaluable knowledge in how effective (or ineffective) teams are run. Associating the experiences, you get from being a club leader to what your intended career path may be can also help you tremendously. My desired path in life after college is to start my own company and as Richard Branson says, “A company is a group of people.” If you don’t know how to work with people now, clubs are a great starting point outside of the classroom. They also have the added bonus of extending your network.

3. Do An Internship

The best opportunity I had to learn about the practical uses of what I was gaining from my courses came from an internship. The ideal internship (which has nothing to do with getting someone coffee) allows you to learn, as you do the job. As a music major, there aren’t many internship opportunities available for me, so I had to leverage my network to take on another path: digital marketing. From my experience, I learned that the best way to truly know if what you’re studying is right for you, you need to do it. Sitting in a classroom learning theories will never give you the value of experience. And if you’re like me who’s constantly trying to learn new things, do an internship that is completely outside of your field. If it weren’t for the eight-month internship I had, you wouldn’t be reading this (because this website wouldn’t even exist). Consider an internship (paid or free) as the best college course you’ll ever take and not pay for.

Note: Student research is a good substitute for internships.

4. Figure Out What Are Your Strengths & Focus Your Studies On Enhancing Them.

Don’t concentrate on getting a job that can get you into your desired tax bracket. The cost of college is extremely high today, and no one should be wasting their money. The main reason you should be going to college is to learn how to learn and to become an observer of the universe. We are entering an era in which employers are caring less about the degree you have and more about how you showcase what you know. It helps if you’ve gained experience via an internship or research opportunity and if you’ve developed friendships that you can utilize to help advance your career.

If you just work on stuff that you like, and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out. – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

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HireOwl Student Spotlight: Kenny Soto

This Student Spotlight was originally posted on HireOwl.

Tell us more about yourself. Elaborate on your involvement in student government and your work on personal branding. Have you turned that into a business? Have you started other businesses? Feel free to mention teams, clubs, and special skills or experience.

My name is Kenny Soto and I am the incoming president of Student Government at the City College of New York. I realized early on that the majority of knowledge that could be gained from college was not from my courses but from the people I would meet. In order for me to gain a large base of connections at my college, I had to market myself. Entering student government was vital because I knew that I would learn the necessary skills needed after college and I have utilized those skills to start my own consulting business for students.

What’s your dream job?

I want to own my own venture capital firm that helps fund education technology startups based in New York City.

Name your favorite employer you’ve worked with, and why. 

My favorite employer has to be SCORE NYC, based near City Hall in New York. The reason why is because through the eight-month internship they provided me I have been able to learn more about the issues that plague so many entrepreneurs. Having the chance to see retired executives coach and mentor current CEO’s (startup founders) has shown me what it takes to execute and create a scalable and successful business.

What are the top ways you have benefited from working while in college? 

The best benefit I have gained while working in college would have to be learning the theories from college classes and implementing them in a pragmatic way. The most important lesson I have obtained is that knowledge gained is useless unless you put what you’ve learned into action and test the theories you’ve gained. A college degree only serves to show an employer that you can handle a certain set of tasks given with a specific deadline. If you want to stand out, you must take extra steps so people can see you as an asset.

When not in class, you can usually be found:

On my free time, I am usually writing on my blog, taking photos across the city, or working with my Fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon doing volunteer work and reading business books.

If you’re looking for a job I highly suggest checking out HireOwl immediately!

Personal Branding Tips For College Students

A Personal Branding Campaign Is Vital For College Seniors & Graduates 

Have you ever wondered what was the exact number of job applications you’ve completed, that have never received any attention or have gotten a reply? If I had to estimate it, the number of applications for me would be over 120. Searching for a new job can be a very depressing process, especially for recent college graduates who need to pay off their student loans and want to start an independent life. The value of a college degree still stands, but it is steadily declining each year.

There are more than 2.8 million college graduates entering the workforce this year alone. That’s only a small fraction of the competition you’ll have to deal with if you factor in the rest of the citizens that are also competing for your dream job (or any job for that matter). So, what can someone do to help increase his or her chances of employment in today’s noisy job search environment?

The Hiring Process

I dread job hunting simply because of all the deterrents that exist that stop me from becoming employed. For starters, there are resume tracking systems that allow hiring managers (at large corporations such as Twitter, Apple, and Google) to sift through thousands of applicants so that only 10 to 20 resumes ever end up on their desks. And get this—the very first thing a hiring manager does today before they even view your resume, is Google your name. That means that online reputation management is now more important than ever before.

Every one of us produces content on a daily basis, whether it is a status update, video, or a photo and all of it is being indexed the very moment we post it (and it never gets removed). Think about it; your name is a keyword that is going to have all the relevant content related to it readily available when someone searches you. Remember that photo you took at your spring break party that you deleted after posting it by accident? It’s still in Google Search’s archives. But don’t fret, there are things you can do that can help you increase your job hunt success!

Why do you need to build your personal brand?

First impressions are no longer made based on face-to-face interactions. Before you are even invited to an interview, you need to pass the “online tests” that are imposed on you. Hiring managers are supposed to acquire the best potential team members possible. To make a good impression, you need to create and manage your own personal brand. Sadly, LinkedIn is not enough to show whom you truly are. Not only as the ideal employee but also, as a really amazing person. Your personal brand needs to be a combination of your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and most importantly your very own personal website (ideally, firstnamelastname.com).

The question that you need to ask yourself before you even apply for a job is “what is my value proposition?” thinking through the eyes of an employer. If you do not present yourself online as someone who can provide added value to their company, they will not waste their time interviewing you. They must ensure that your personality is a good match for whatever team you are applying to join.

There are college students that have honors, several awards, are a part of many clubs and organizations and have completed many internships. At the end of the day, you will always be in competition for the jobs you apply for, so you need to add as many key advantages as possible to get yourself in front of the employment line. It’s time you leverage your online presence to stand out from the crowd.

How to build your personal brand

The first thing you must consider is that resumes aren’t as important as what a potential employer sees online. The most important thing you must do is create a website. You don’t need to learn how to code to create one now; there are many content management systems that can allow you to post content and design your website very quickly (such as SquareSpace and WordPress). The biggest investment you can ever make as a college student is buying a domain and hosting your website.

I have had my website for almost a year now, and it has allowed me to show who I am as a young professional in a much grander way than a resume ever will. What you should think about is how you are currently conveying to an employer (and everyone else), who are you and what makes you so unique. Why are you more of a potential asset to the company than the other thousand applicants who applied last month?

If I were hiring someone, and I saw two resumes with the same skills, job experience, and degree (even though GPA or school doesn’t bring much merit anymore), if one candidate had a website, and the other didn’t—I would definitely giving the first interview to the applicant who has their own site.

What Employers Want To See

Considering that a degree is no longer the only thing needed for your professional success, there has to be something else that you can do to increase your chances of landing the right job. The key to doing so is leveraging what you already use every day: the Internet.

In our culture, all of our attention is now focused on our mobile devices, so we must know how to use this to our advantage. The purpose of creating a personal branding campaign that includes a website, great LinkedIn profile, other Social Media channels, and a resume that speaks to an employer is to show your value proposition. The key to success after college and beyond is to consistently showcase (online) why anyone should give a damn about you.

Building these things is fairly easy; the main issue is committing your time to get these things done. If you aren’t being hired for the job, someone else will be!

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