Members of the Bloomfield College community have come together to help a young alumnus secure office space for his startup. This initiative has also created a wonderful internship program for current students.
“I've always believed that the BCAA should be more than just an organization that plans galas and social events. Assisting this alumnus with his business who, in turn, will be providing internships for our students is a perfect way for the BCAA to make a difference at the College. I hope to see more projects like this in the future,” said BCAA President, John Murdock.
Ray Rivera ’08, an Essex County native, graduated from Bloomfield College from the Division of Creative Arts & Technology (CAT) with a double specialization in Multimedia Design and Game Design. He is a freelancer and the founder of SkyTank Labs. Rivera works on a variety of projects from healthcare benefit apps to virtual reality tourism. Leading up to starting his own business, Rivera worked as a salaried professional for six years at IMP Digital, a digital production studio in Paramus.
“Working with the College in the space they helped provide means a great deal to myself and the growth of my business. Having a dedicated, private space to operate from allows me have in-house freelancers and interns. It also allows me to host meetings with potential partners and clients,” shared Rivera. “Most importantly, I can provide Bloomfield College students on-campus internship opportunities and real-world work experiences. If not for Bloomfield College’s assistance, this would have been much more difficult to accomplish.”
No stranger to his alma mater, Rivera had previously worked with current CAT student, Michael Stoess, on a virtual 360 tour of campus for visitors and prospective students. “Everything we did for the project was a learning experience and nothing ever felt unimportant or tedious,” said Stoess, at the time. “While working on the project, I was always excited to wake up and start the day, it really showed me that this is the career I truly wish to pursue.”
The following year at the College’s annual scholarship evening, Stoess approached fellow alumnus and Trustee John Skowronski ’91 in hopes of finding a way to help Rivera secure permanent space at the College so he could continue to work with current students in an internship arrangement. Unfortunately, Skowronski quickly discovered that there was no available space on the small campus.
“Michael deserves a lot of credit. It is because of him I became willing to not only reach out to the College, but take it to the next level when the College was unable to provide Rivera with space. I felt compelled to support the project and asked the BCAA to do the same,” shared Skowronski.
Along with the BCAA, Skowronski began looking for potential space near Bloomfield College. Upon realizing that Trustee Jacquie Colgan and her husband, Bill, owned 2 Broad Street, a building in which space was already being rented to the College, Skowronski met with Ms. Colgan.
The Colgan’s enthusiastically offered space on the same floor the College was already using, all in support of Bloomfield College students. Because of the Colgan’s generosity, coupled with Skowronski’s support toward the rent which the BCAA happily matched, Rivera was able to sign a lease. He will be occupying the space rent free his first year.
“We are so pleased that a Bloomfield College alumnus of Ray’s stature has returned to give back to students who are currently in the Creative Arts and Technology program,” said Dr. Tresmaine Grimes, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. Dr Grimes was instrumental in helping Rivera gain network access for his office and, through her support, the project was fast-tracked. “Ray’s extensive experience will provide two student interns with experience and exposure in preparation for their own careers. This is a tremendous opportunity for the College.”
Rivera has already begun working with Yuichiro Nishizawa, Chair of the Creative Arts & Technology division, to develop the internship program.
“I am thrilled about the startup and am grateful for the generous contribution by Mr. John Skowronski, Mrs. and Mr. Jacquie and Bill Colgan, the BCAA, and Bloomfield College to make this happen,” said Professor Nishizawa, who noted some computers were donated by his contact, Ms. Rebecca Lee, at the NYC office of Glen Raven as well. “While pursuing their creative career, many of our Bloomfield College students wish to contribute back. Ray is creating an on-campus internship opportunity for our existing students. We are making a blueprint for other alumnus to follow! This is CAT. This is what Bloomfield College is about.”
Current Bloomfield College students will soon be able to earn college credit, as well as real-world experience, all within steps of the College.
“My personal goal is to see this as a spark that starts a much larger program where we can help our students segue into the real world and help stimulate a vibrant high-tech environment in downtown Bloomfield and put us on the map,” said Skowronski. “When parents ask about what we do to help students gain experience in their chosen fields and secure jobs after graduation, I hope that this becomes a shining example of what can and is being done.”