NYIT Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Afrahim

 

At NYIT, we are constantly working to improve our connection with alumni all over the world.  NYIT’s alumni can help enhance the NYIT experience by sharing their experiences, tips, and insight that have helped many students obtain internships, jobs, or other opportunities.

When Daniel Afrahim came to NYIT, he had a different vision and goal from his current career path that included a career in animation and motion graphics.  He graduated from NYIT in 2009 with a BFA in Computer Graphics.

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The unemployment rate was much higher back in 2009 when Daniel graduated and he faced many challenges with his job search process.  However, the experiences and skills that he acquired in order to further his career are applicable in various job climates.

I had the pleasure to talk to Daniel recently about his job search experience while he was at NYIT.

 

Tell me about your experience at NYIT

When I came to NYIT my vision and career goals were different than what they are now.  I wanted to do animation and motion graphics.  Exciting work, and I liked it a lot since I was a kid, so I enrolled at NYIT in 2006 since it was offering one of the best programs out there.

I started doing graphic and web design in 2004 and slowly learned different skills by myself while I was getting my Associate Degree from Bramson ORT College. I started working as an unpaid intern for a local design firm in that year. Then I bought a domain name called DesignbyDaniel.com for few dollars and started my freelance business. Later on, I managed to get a work-study role at the Bramson ORT College to help design the flyers and advertisements, which later on became my full time job for 3 years.

While I was at NYIT, I tried to learn as much as I could about animation, but I was also very involved with the graphic design and web design courses. I had couple of amazing teachers whom I cannot thank enough. My goal was to learn any skill I could because I wasn’t sure what was in my future.

A few months before graduation, I realized getting into the motion graphics field is very hard, especially on the east coast. Many of my friends wanted to move out west to stay in this career path. That was not an option for me; I wanted to stay here in NYC. I couldn’t find an internship in my field with the little experience I had (there weren’t many internship opportunities to begin with).. The job market in general was really bad: people were losing their jobs, the market was crashing, no one was hiring that easily, and I was graduating.

Having graphic/web design skills offered me couple of different career opportunities. So I decided to take the safe route and create a backup plan just in case motion graphics couldn’t work out.

After graduating from NYIT, I got many rejections but finally I started working at Blue Fountain Media, a very small design agency. When I first started, there were only 7-8 people there. By the time I left, it had grown to about 80 people in our NYC office with two more offices. I grew with the company and learned many new skills.

 

Did you use Career Services at NYIT?  

I sat down with someone my senior year and had my resume reviewed and I got some good feedback on my portfolio.  One of the good things about NYIT’s Career Services is that they are always available and I knew where to find them if I did need help. 

When I started looking for graphic design opportunities, the job search was easier.  My portfolio was good and it was a lot different than looking for work in motion graphics.  My situation was also a little different from most students because I was already out and working. I wasn’t afraid of putting myself out there to get rejected and criticized.  

 

Where do you work now?

I currently work at Fidelity Investments as a Senior Information Architect. I really like the work and the collaborative environment. I work with an amazing team. There’s a nice, personal touch at our company in the solutions and service we provide for our customers. Financial industry is very complicated and therefore the issues facing customers are complex. We take the time to find solutions that help millions of our customers do a certain task easier and faster.

Early on in my career, I worked for different agencies or as a freelancer, which was very interesting yet never had a good opportunity to try out different design solutions and find the best design possible. Now, as in-house designer with the work we’re doing, I get to really go through the entire design process, research, usability, etc. whereas in the past I just focused on one section or one specific product or service. I think this makes all the difference and you can be proud of the outcome at the end of the day.

 

If you could do it over again, what would you do differently in regards to the job search process?  

 

I think it starts with academics. I would not go after computer graphics and stay in general graphic and UX design. I also would have considered staying at NYIT for a graduate degree. I think it helps a lot down the road. I am currently looking to get a masters but it will probably take me a few years–more than the two years I could have afforded while I was in the school already.

I also would have only stayed with each company for only two years. I think no matter how happy you are with the position, you need to switch jobs to gain more experiences and get new opportunities.  

Plus, I would’ve become an in-house designer much sooner. Working for agencies is exciting but I think you’ll rarely get to dive deep into issues and find creative solutions.

And always negotiate your salary. There’s always room to ask for more. Do some research and learn to negotiate.

 

Any thoughts / advice for current students in terms of career planning?

NYC is a big city.  You would be surprised as to who needs what and what opportunities are out there based on the job that you’re looking for and the skill set that you have. 

You have to keep going and keep pushing.  I never waited for jobs to find me.  I went after many different things and worked as a freelancer to gain experience. 

Networking is huge. Getting and keeping in touch with people in the industry led to more projects and referrals. Some came later around 7-8 months later but it was all because of the networking. There are so many ways to network and you need find what works for you and the industry you are interested in.

I was always out meeting people, had my portfolio online (just Google my name), and was ready to talk to someone about any opportunity.   

If you have the skills, you will be able to do what’s asked of you.  But also remember to practice and work on your craft.  Show any of your skills in any form you can.  Show you can do this better than anyone else.  Show that you offer variety and are willing to learn. Show value as a team member. 

When I went to interview for a position at Infor, the world’s third-largest enterprise application provider, the creative director was looking for someone who had designed for enterprise applications. I didn’t have that specific experience but that didn’t stop me from offering to redesign one of their iPad apps right in front of him. I quickly redesigned the app in Photoshop into what I felt was a more user-friendly layout. All I had to do was to apply many of the best UX practices to the app, that’s all. It took under an hour and made a lasting impression on the creative director. After couple of days, he offered me the job. I simply earned his trust based on my work and my design thinking. Later on, he told me, some people had the perfect resume, great portfolio, and work experience but couldn’t do what I did on the spot. Whether they lacked the confidence or the motivation, they couldn’t rise up to the challenge. Never back down from a challenge or an opportunity to show what you can do. 

  

 

Networking remains an important component of the job search process.  Like Daniel, our alumni base can share their experiences with current students. NYIT Campus Tap is a platform that provides career networking and alumni mentoring communities to help students launch their career.

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If you are an NYIT alum and would like to volunteer as a mentor or seek mentorship, please email Sabrina Polidoro at spolidor@nyit.edu.

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Student Perspectives: Crafting Your Career Goal by Ashley Joseph

Student Perspectives provides an inside look to the career exploration and job search process from a student’s point of view.  This feature is written entirely by students who want to share their experiences and provide feedback on our services.

 

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One of the best ways you can prepare for the job market is by taking initiative on the steps it takes to get there. Giving yourself goals to work towards will give you some direction, but goals also need action or else you may fall into the trap of all plan and no action. By questioning your personal attributes and defining the things you want to achieve, your career goal recipe will be one destined for success.

It begins with passion. As students, we study to become experts in the fields where we find interest. We hope that our professional lives will continue to feed the things we are passionate about. Long term career goals will help you achieve the position you want over time and short term ones are the steps you will take to get there. For example: having a summer internship in the field where you find interest to gain the experience you need to land your dream job after graduation. Career goals help you channel your passions into action.

Add some inspiration to your recipe. Setting goals help keep you grounded as you move through your educational career, but it doesn’t have to be rigid. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t be. You are gaining more skills and experience as you work towards your goals and you may learn more about yourself along the way. Staying inspired along the way by surrounding yourself with like-minded people and developing your personal brand will fine-tune all of your personal attributes. Being the best version of yourself is a reflection of exactly what you hope to achieve.

As you are crafting your career goal recipe, be sure to keep in mind that knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you want. Everyone’s recipe for success will be different. You know what your strengths and weaknesses are and the aim is find professional niches where these strengths can be exemplified, but if you don’t know exactly what that is, then it’s time to get curious and explore the things that interest you. It may take some research and soul-searching, but for your career goal recipe, you need to find the things that catch your eye and they will keep pulling you in the right direction.

Ashley Joseph is a senior in the B.Arch program at NYIT. She is originally from Guyana, South America, but grew up just outside of New York City. She is inspired by people, art, and books. You will probably always find her exploring a new place, reading a good book or painting. Her future goals include working in the field of Historic Preservation Architecture while also finding new ways to merge Art & Architecture.

Ask Career Services

This feature will be recurring with questions on career related topics, industry insight and our services.  If you have a question that you would like featured on this blog, please email cs@nyit.edu with the subject line “Ask Career Services.” 

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I attended the all majors career fair back in the spring and I didn’t find anything I wanted in terms of jobs.  What can I do to maximize my time at the next fair or event?

I often hear this from students when we ask for feedback about our events.  There is plenty one can do before a career fair to get the most out of it. I advise our students to take a couple of steps in order to prepare.

  • Review the list of employers that will be attending. Most will have their open positions posted on NYIT Career Net or on the company’s website.  If you have done your research ahead of time and see a job posted on a company’s website, but it’s not listed at the fair, ask the recruiter about it.  Perhaps they are looking to fill that position with someone who has more experience or they already have a candidate.  For a full list of employers that attend, students can download the NYIT Career Fair App from the App Store or Google Play.
  • If they don’t have a job that matches your experience and interests, it doesn’t hurt to ask about future opportunities. See if you can keep in touch in case something comes up in the future.
  • Practice your networking skills. If there is a company that you are interested in but there are no opportunities that are a right fit, ask the recruiter for their business card or if you can connect on LinkedIn.  Network with other attendees at the fair or event.  You may make a new connection and learn about other opportunities that weren’t right for them but may be a great match for you.

Keep these steps in mind during our career fairs this year including the R:EACT Career Fair on October 26th, at our Manhattan campus.

I get nervous when I go on interviews.  What should I do? 

It’s normal to get nervous when you’re on an interview.  You’re being asked a lot of questions about your experience and background, and there may be a lot riding on how you do.  I encourage job seekers to go on as many interviews as possible as you will learn about yourself and the interview process the more you do it.  It also helps to ease some of the anxiety as you gain interview experience.  Other tips to keep in mind,

  1. Be confident. Easier said than done; try to remember that you made it out of the applicant pool to an interview, which is already an accomplishment.  The hiring manager probably sees tons of resumes every week and you were selected because there was an interest in getting to know you a little better and finding out if this is the right fit.  Be confident in your abilities and candidacy for the position.
  2. Think about some of the questions you will be asked and how you will respond.  Practice talking about yourself, your education, and experience.  Know what your goals are and what you can bring to the team.  Schedule an appointment with Career Services for a mock interview and we can provide feedback and tips for your interview.
  3. Relax the night before. If you’ve done the work and preparation, you should relax and clear your head the night before the interview.  Cramming and feeding into the stress before the interview can make things worse and make you more anxious.  After you finish preparing, take some time for yourself with a book, listen to some music or whatever it takes to relax.

 

I submitted my resume for review and I was told one thing, but then when I met with someone else in your office, I was told something else.  Why is that?

Our career advisors provide feedback based on our experience working with job seekers, employers, recruiters, and our own personal experience in the working world as well.  We each have different styles on how to format a resume, write a cover letter, and approach to networking.  Our style may differ but we utilize the same best practices.  For example, one advisor may recommend using an objective on your resume as long as it’s clear and concise while another may want to leave it out altogether.  At the end of the day, we each provide feedback that we think will best help you with the job search process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Perspectives: Journey Since First Year by Hinali Shah

Student Perspectives provides an inside look to the career exploration and job search process from the student’s point of view.  This feature is written entirely by students who want to share their experiences to other students and industry professionals and provide feedback on our services and how we can assist them in their career planning.  

 

Journey Since First Year

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Architecture was an unfamiliar territory, even when I started architecture school.

Always having an interest in the arts, and having the ability to draw and paint, my parents suggested I consider the field of architecture as a possible career option. Being clueless about the real world, I took an architecture class during my senior year of high school, and I liked it. It didn’t teach me about the fundamentals,just how to use one of the popular programs. I liked designing my dream house as the final project, which made me decide to go for this career path.

My first semester at New York Institute of Technology was extremely difficult. I was thrown into a design class from day one, and realized that I didn’t truly have a basis of what architecture was. The knowledge I had from my high school class was not enough. I struggled that first semester, and during the winter break of 2014, I pushed myself to the extreme to understand and better my designing and model-making skills. I have continued to push myself for the past 4 years I have been in this school, which has helped me to love this field that I once found impossible. I’ve encountered some amazing mentors and have made steps to overcome my shy personality to ask for help and resources when needed.

When I started working as a student ambassador at Career Services in 2015, I met a lot of staff who encouraged me to participate in different activities on and off campus, which helped me develop leadership skills. Since I have been working there, I have helped organize many firm visits, curated an art show, and headed a voter registration contest. This responsibility also lead me to get more confident in the classroom. I was able to ask questions when I didn’t understand something and to take pride in my own work, which is a must in architecture. This past semester, I got an internship at a celebrated architecture magazine and during the spring break, I was able to travel to the Dominican Republic with 11 other students and help build a home for a woman in need. This happened because I made myself aware of what NYIT had to offer, whether it be academic, extracurricular, or experiential opportunities, and I was able to take action and participate.

For new students who are reading this, my advice to you is to join a club or get an on-campus job in your first year of school. It will help you get more connections and aid you in your transition from a high school to a college atmosphere. Also identify the areas in which you struggle, because there are tons of resources like peer tutoring, counselors in career services, volunteer organizations like the Community Service Center, financial aid office, etc., which can help you to break through your barriers or be there for you when needed.

 

 

Hinali Shah is a senior majoring in Bachelor of Architecture at New York Institute of Technology. She was born in India, but moved to the United States at the age of 13. Her passions include learning about cultural architecture, travelling, writing, and fashion styling. So far her favorite city apart from New York is Barcelona.