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Adapting to the Future of Work: Manifesting the Dream

Young adults today are seeking multiple pathways to adapt to the future of work while manifesting their dream, and that motivation was evident in the record-breaking 759 young adults who registered for JobsFirstNYC’s seventh annual Adapting to the Future of Work convening on July 28, 2022. Over 40 speakers, facilitators, and workshop leaders, including entrepreneurs, community activists, and educators, held riveting virtual discussions with attendees about the creative ways young people can adapt to the future of work whilealso pursuing their dreams. 

The objectives of the young adult-centered day two of the Adapting to the Future: Dream Up series were to:

  1. Foster discussion and strengthen connections between subject experts and young adults
  2. Advance actionable solutions for thriving in the future of work. 
  3. Provide a forum for young innovators to share their tools for adapting to the future of work.
  4. Highlight new and trending industries that reflect the aspirations of young adults.
  5. Reinforce the importance of dreaming up.

The day combined expert workshop presentations with creative one-on-one sessions on the challenges and opportunities in a radically changed post-pandemic work landscape. Upon entering the virtual event, participants were welcomed by Jaeger Hessing, a rising sophomore at Binghampton University and JobsFirstNYC summer intern. DJ Timothy Yang, then took the main stage and played a range of inspiring music requests from the audience. The attendees were invited to add their dreams to a special virtual Dreamboard created by Shiza Ranamagar, a rising junior at Haverford College and JobsFirstNYC summer intern.

Emcee for the day, Nasir Mack, Board Member, Philadelphia Youth Network, greeted the hundreds of young people who converged on the virtual platform and introduced the day’s customized agenda.

“We’ve seen how young people like yourself in New York City and across the country have made a seat at the table for themselves and have inspired others to dream up,” exclaimed Marjorie Parker, President and CEO of JobsFirstNYC, in her opening message and also added that “We hope that you will learn new things, you will be inspired to dream big.”

“You have been given a special opportunity to network, learn new skills, and learn from others who can help you along your career path,” encouraged Keith S. Howard, newly appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. In his special message, Commissioner Howard pointed to the importance of good mental health and invited young people to take advantage of the event to get the help they need to adapt to the fast-changing world. He finished his inspiring message by reminding the young adults that “The name of this event says it all. Continue to dream up.”

“Think about what you love to do and how you can make money doing it,” said Althea Stevens, Council Member and Chair of the Youth Services Committee of the New York City Council, as she delivered a poignant call for the attendees to “Dream big and remember you can do anything.”

“You are more than capable of achieving the dreams and goals that you set your mind to. You have to nurture them and believe in them more than anyone else. If you don’t believe in yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to believe in you and the dreams that you have set out for yourself,” proclaimed Nupol Kiazolu, keynote speaker and civil rights advocate. Nupol, who is also the Founder of We Protect Us and an HBCU student, rallied the young adults to be intentional about laying out a plan for themselves. 

This year attendees saw the return of the cutting-edge My City, My Community social impact pitch competition. My City, My Community is designed for young adults aged 16-24 living within the five NYC boroughs to share innovative ideas that create a positive social impact in their community. Applicants identified a social challenge in their community and created a 1-minute video to pitch a unique product or service to help solve it. Finalists were chosen by a review board and invited to share their pitch videos in front of a live panel of judges including Evan Ehlers, Founder of Sharing Excess, Amy Furman, Workforce Consultant, Tim Gamory, Founder and CEO of Elevate Digital, and Beverly Leon, Founder of Local Civics

Each pitch was judged based on innovativeness, potential impact, and ease of implementation. An ‘Audience Favorite’ award was chosen by having young adult attendees vote for their favorite pitch.

The 2022 winners:

  • 1st Place: Jonas Ling (Perfectly Imperfect Foods)
  • 2nd Place: Osazee Legemah (TutorNYC)
  • 3rd Place: Jerry Chen (Legalease)
  • 4th Place: Marc Hayes (Safety Net)
  • 5th Place: Jeanette Orellana (The WIOM Project)
  • Audience Favorite: Jeanette Orellana (The WIOM Project)

Click to view a video of the pitch competition.

The Fighting for Our Dreams: Young Adult Advocacy Panel emphasized the need for young people to explore and utilize their power to enact the changes they envision for themselves and their communities. Panelists challenged the attendees to advocate for themselves and connect with support organizations that can help them navigate the ever-changing landscape. Speakers advised young people to find balance in their lives by making room for their mental health and seeking things that bring them joy.

Key takeaways:

Thomas Downs, moderator and former NYC Mayoral candidate, called on young people to “Go out and vote. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can pre-register to vote,” said Downs. “Young voters have the power to make a difference. Elect representatives who represent the growing diversity in our population.”

“You don’t get what you don’t ask for. That means money, that means help, that means support, that means favors, that means people’s time,” said Amanda Littman, Co-Founder of Run for Something. Littman later reminded the audience that “Even a dream job is still a job, and some of it will be challenging. Don’t allow yourself to become disillusioned.”

According to Bobbi Taylor, Consultant at Think of Us, “Advocacy means elevating the needs of the community, especially those most proximate to the issue…and making sure that the people with the decision-making power are working for the people in the community.” 

“Finding your voice and using it to inspire deep radical inclusive change,” Sharon Quituisaca Community Manager of New York City Council District 14. Quituisaca also advised, “Go to as many events as possible. Get out there and network…Stay away from judging people.”

Reflecting more conversational trends in communication, Adapting to the Future of Work 2022 saw the addition of interactive Picnic Table Talks, which consisted of unique 15-minute sessions during which participants could choose two areas of interest. The newly introduced Picnic Table Talks allowed presenters to share their unique stories in a casual and relaxed setting. Young adults selected from:

Living the Dream: Telling Your Story Authentically

Cara Lam, Content Creator, Meta (Instagram)

Dream Meditations: Mental Health, Wellness, & Belonging

Nyla McNeill, Social Scientist, Multidisciplinary Artist, and Entrepreneur

Dare to Dream: Leadership & Advocacy in the World of Work

Miguel Blancarte Jr., Health, Equity, and Community Consultant, Blancarte Consulting

Spreading the Dream: Online Influencing

Bilikisu Hanidu, Influencer

The Power of Dreams: Healing Through Organizing

Teresa Rivera, Community Educator, This is What Boricua Looks Like

Dream It, Wish It, Do It: Youth Power Building

Emily Campos, Saturday Night Lights Project Manager, NYC DYCD

Establishing Your Dream Space Online

Dessie Brown, Head of Digital Programming, Genius Productions

Dreaming & Scheming in the Workplace to Prepare for Your Future

Bianca Shaw, Co-Executive Director, Programs & Culture, RISE

Using that Dollar to Build Your Dreams

Kerwyn Phillip, Author & Workshop Facilitator, Malik’s First Job

In keeping with Adapting to the Future of Work mission of the convening, the Emerging & Trending Industries breakout workshops spotlighted growing and nontraditional areas of work for young adults. Attendees were able to select interactive workshops that were aligned with their dreams and ambitions and included:

The Hybrid Hype: Dreaming Up in Digital Marketing

Paige Dwelle, Creative Director, Poo~Pourri

Head in the Clouds: Dreaming Up in Cannabis

Chet Gold, Brand Ambassador, Canna Cares

In Your Wildest Dreams: Dreaming Up in Crypto & NFTs

Sebastian Boloña, Web3 Lead Designer, Awaken Koala; Dream Forest Republic

Michael Gundich, Director of Brand Marketing, Awaken Koala; Founder, Dream Forest


Decoding Your Dreams: Dreaming Up in Tech

Tatiana Marshall, Admissions Manager, Marcy Lab School

Better Dreams, Better Life: Dreaming Up in Healthcare

Ashlyn Paneto, Customer Service Supervisor, Montefiore Medical Center

Eyes of the Beholder: Dreaming Up in Beauty and Fashion

Ashley Flot, Multidisciplinary Beauty Creative

Makayla McDonald, CEO & Founder, M&M Boutique; OYU Fellow

Boss Up: Dreaming Up in Entrepreneurship & the Gig Economy

Liz Faublas-Wallace, Founder & Managing Editor, Million$Pen, Ink.

Designer Dreams: Dreaming Up in the Creative Economy

Dion Walcott, Director of Partnerships, Pensole Lewis College; Founder, MARTK’D

The Dreamcatchers: Dreaming Up in Social Impact & Entrepreneurship

Trayvon Smith, Founder & CEO, Realest Exposure

Jamie KP, Founder, The Alternative Bureau

One of the high points of the convening came from spoken word artist and author Justincredible who performed an empowering poem closing with the words:

“Mark my words,

         I will stay down ‘til I come up,

         I will continue to work hard

         And dream up.”

Thanks to the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, N. Cheng, and Resorts World for sponsoring 2022 Adapting to the Future of Work: Dream Up.

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