Graduate School Alumni Panel Explores Career Advancement in Uncertain Times

On April 7, Bank Street’s Alumni Relations and Career Services Offices hosted “Bank Street’s Career Advancement Alumni Panel: How to Market Yourself During Global Uncertainty.” The virtual event convened a panel of Bank Street alumni with diverse roles in the education field to share more about how they’ve navigated their professional journeys during uncertain times.

The panel included Marcel Deans, GSE ’18 & ‘06, Assistant Superintendent, New York City Department of Education; Maria Nunes, GSE’16, Head of Upper School, Packer Collegiate Institute; Mark Pingitore, GSE ’01 & ‘96, Director, American School of Barcelona; and Alice Schwarz, GSE ‘86, Independent Museum and Art Educator. The event was moderated by Rabin Nickens, GSE ‘03, Senior School Improvement Specialist/Leadership Coach, New York City Department of Education.

2021 Graduate School Alumni Career Panelists

A seasoned moderator with a deep coaching background, Nickens kicked off the discussion by encouraging guests—made up of current Bank Street graduate students and alumni—to draw connections between their own journeys and those of the panelists. “They all started somewhere and are still evolving,” she said. Then it was time for the panelists to share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned in finding opportunity during unpredictable times, both during the pandemic and in other contexts.

Up first was Deans, who is experienced in developing leadership pipelines and training programs. He referenced the pandemic’s deep level of disruption but also acknowledged the subtle opportunities under the surface. During a year that put so much on pause, Deans was able to go back to school to pursue his doctorate. “It’s afforded me the opportunity to take advantage of the silence a little bit,” he said.

Maria Nunes reflected on her journey as a career-changer, transitioning from the world of business into education by pursuing a Bank Street degree. She encouraged attendees to follow their hearts in the midst of uncertainty and to be strategic about the kinds of opportunities that are out there for them and in nurturing the skills that will help them reach their long-term goals.

Joining the discussion from Barcelona, Mark Pingitore, who spoke from his experience in international school education, emphasized the importance of “finding support networks” during challenging times, noting that Bank Street always felt like a small family to him and an active support system. “Surround yourself with people who share the same values,” he said, noting that “finding your village” is crucial.

For Alice Schwarz, mental health and self-care were key ingredients in her career in museum education, which includes a triple major from Bank Street. She admitted that transitioning from working in galleries to an online setting during the pandemic was difficult at first, but that she was able to look at the benefits and consider the possibilities: “What can we do in this digital world?”

Above all, the enlightening discussion surfaced a theme of resilience. The conversation was honest and uplifting, acknowledging the obstacles that so many face in today’s climate but also encouraging a mindset that recognizes opportunity, even when it feels like there is none. The event culminated in a robust Q&A session, inviting attendees to further reflect on what they learned from panelists.

Watch a recording of the event