Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • Pandemic Gap Year: Firms Providing Job Training, Career Development For Students Taking Semester Off

    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Since the so-called “college experience” will be non-existent for the 2020-21 school year, some students are taking a gap year to find themselves in a job that provides career training and development.

    Mohammed Alshatti, an entrepreneurship major at Hofstra University, told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, he is taking six months off to learn on-the-job training from his mother and sister who own food businesses in Kuwait.

    “I feel like taking a gap year will allow me to focus more on the long-term goals,” the 21 year old explained.

    His mother owns a bakery with eight employees in Kuwait while his sister operates a vegan restaurant.

    “I gained a lot,” said Alshatti who is matching his studies from classes at Hofstra with practical experience in marketing and management.

    “In a way, corona(virus) was very unfortunate, but I like to look at the positive aspect of it,” he said.

    Alshatti told Connolly and Carousso he is “not too big of a fan” of online classes, which factored into his decision to get a jump-start in his career.

    “Gaining connections is a huge part of, in my opinion, going to college,” he said, noting that those studying the same major as him will become his peers in the workforce.

    Alshatti is not alone in taking a hiatus from expensive higher education to pursue career opportunities.

    Dan Guido, co-founder and chief executive officer of Trail of Bits, told WCBS 880 that 1,000 college students applied for paid remote internships this summer to fill 10 openings at his cyber security firm in Manhattan.

    “Whether you’re going to school in the fall or not, you should find something that you’re interested in and take every opportunity to master it,” he offered, adding, “Mastery ends up being a really easy way of finding someone that’s worth hiring.”

    Trail of Bits’ internships are for skilled students interested in software engineering and cloud security, which are tenants of the firm’s portfolio. Guido assigns interns a project exclusive to them that the company publishes.

    “They help the company build our brand and contribute something back while also giving a résumé builder to the students,” he said.

    Trail of Bits worked with Zoom Video Communications to secure its infrastructure after breaches in March and April.

    While in-person training is hard to replicate with its 70 employees working from home, Guido focuses on communication among his workers via Slack and virtual meetings. He even encourages his workers to talk about their projects with each other and socialize on video calls since that aspect of interpersonal collaboration is lost amid the pandemic.

    “When we actually do have these video conferences, we make sure that there’s a norm that all the cameras are turned on since the mere exposure effect of seeing someone’s face ends up helping you relate to them,” he said.

    Hear about the career training opportunities for students entering the labor force on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or on the media player above.

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