I’m Jon Marin, author of the soon-to-be-released book See Us, a photographic journey that follows six visually impaired young adults as they balance their lives among work, home, and school in New York City. I had the pleasure of connecting with these students during their time at Career Discovery Project, the program I lead at City Access New York.
Building a career program that works for students
When I was informed that I would take over the Career Discovery Project in 2014, I was petrified. Too many negative thoughts were going through my mind – which was baffling because, as assistant program manager and job coach before that, I was always thinking about how much I could improve the program if I were in charge.
Within the first few months, I relaxed – and then I was able to take the program to new heights. I increased student enrollment, recruited new partner sites and was a New York News Media 40/40 Rising Stars in the Non-Profit Sector honoree.
The Career Discovery Project was designed to give blind and visually impaired students work opportunities beyond the typical retail and maintenance jobs that are commonly offered. The grant has a focus on cultural institutions, including theaters and museums. But I knew if I wanted the program to grow and gain popularity, I had to expand the internship opportunities even further.
Within just a few years, I was able to evolve it into a career-based internship program. In addition to cultural institutions, our participants have worked with media and tech companies, and other organizations that align more closely with their college majors or specific career goals.
All the while, I watched my students grow right before my eyes – from their sophomore years in high school to graduating college. I’ve watched them mature and break out of their shells. It is a truly rewarding experience.
Sharing my experience through See Us
These are some of the reasons why I decided to write See Us. I want to share my experience and the satisfaction of preparing these young people to take advantage of these incredible opportunities – and then watching them succeed. I also want readers to experience the frustrations and joys along the way that helped these students grow stronger.
As you flip through the pages of this photographic journey, you’re going to meet a diverse group of New York City students and get a glimpse of how they are balancing life and all the opportunities ahead of them as they worked through the summer and fall of 2019.
About the author
Jon Marin has worked for over 10 years with legally blind young adults. As Program Director for the Career Discovery Project, he has connected more than 100 students with unique internship opportunities. His book, See Us, will be available for pre-order in spring 2021.