2018 Senior Interns Learn from Working Environment
From Classrooms to Companies: NCHS Senior Internships
By Abigail Weiss, NCHS Senior Intern
At 8:45 on a Monday, students are usually sitting in their classrooms during the second period of the day. However, at this time I am driving to work at the NCPS Central Office. Here, I will spend the next five hours writing stories and taking pictures throughout town under the supervision of the district’s Communications Director, Michael Horyczun. I am one of the 283 seniors participating in the Senior Internship Program at New Canaan High School. Also working with me in the Central Office is Nate Aliapoulios under Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi, and Eden Neleman under Student Support Coordinaot Dr. Susan Bliss.
This program allows the senior class to spend their last month of high school in the workforce rather than in a classroom. Students have the opportunity to discover as well as carry out their interests.
In its seventh consecutive year, the Senior Internship Program is significantly popular with 93% of the senior class working in 254 sites across the district. These numbers have increased dramatically since last year, when the participation rate was 10% less, and there were 60 fewer sites.
Senior Internship Coordinator, Heather Bianco, explained that this increase is due to students' eagerness to explore the work world over being in a classroom. “I hear from a lot of students that they want to see if this is their path, so they’ll choose something career-based. Some students have never had a job before and want to see what it’s like to be in an office setting,” she said. “A lot of students are undecided, so maybe sitting in an advertising office or a marketing office will help them.”
Ms. Bianco also noted that there was a big change to the selection process of the internship this year this year. For the first time, students were able to see all the positions available and were able to rank them. “Before this year, the students never saw any of the options. We would just match them based on their interests. Now we try to match students with their ranking based on the interviews.”
Many sites have been added to the program this year, such as the Stamford Hospital and Runabout Farm Animal Rescue, due to the networking done by the Internship committee. However, the biggest change for the program this year is the increase in self-design sites. The number increased from around 30 to 100 sites.
Ms. Bianco explained that the factor for this was because there was a lot of advance notice about the program. “When September hit, I sent out a lot of emails through October reminding students about self-designing. I promoted it a lot earlier this year to give people time to find their site,” she said.
The matching process is going successfully, for many students are getting a great experience out of their internship.
Jane Jiang is working for the non-profit LiveGirl in order to fulfill her passion of empowering and being a role model for younger girls. “Especially with the impact of social media today, girls are facing more and more unrealistic expectations. Therefore, I want to contribute to LiveGirl, because its mission is to make girls feel more confident,” she said.
Jane and her co-worker Nicole Weiss, another NCHS senior intern, carry out this goal by organizing a Youth Advisory Board for high schoolers to run the organization. They’re also forming a High School Club Model to spread the movement nationally to different high schools.
This internship will help Nicole in the future when she works for other nonprofits. “It has taught me about how a non-profit works and all the fundraising, communication, and organization that goes into it,” she said. “It has definitely strengthened my interest in working with a girl-empowering organization like this one in the future.”
Many interns are working outside of an office environment and spend more time on the move. These include EMT Andrew Weitz, who responds to emergency phone calls and completes different side projects.
This internship has allowed him to pursue his interest in the medical field, where he can make a positive impact on people. “The best part is when you actually make a real difference in someone’s life,” he said. “We can’t do everything, usually they need surgery. But when we actually make the difference, that’s my favorite part about the job.”
Andrew wants future seniors to take as much of an advantage of the program as they can. “I think you should choose an internship based on what you might want to do for a career, don’t just choose something because it looks easy,” he said. “Do something that you think you may be interested in. You might find out that you’re not, or you may discover that that is something you want to be doing.”
Other interns prefer a quiet environment, such as Ayla Senna, who works at the New Canaan Library. There she creates book and graphic displays, makes crafts for preschoolers, and reads at story-time. Ayla is incredibly happy with her match and would not want to do anything else. “I feel this internship is perfect for me, being a book nerd, and it just fits with my personality,” she said.
Working at the library allows Ayla to gain insight on what she wants to do in the future. “I love children, so being in the children’s section is allowing me to see if I would want a career working with young kids, and what age range I prefer,” she said. “Through this internship, I’ve also been able to use my graphic design skills, something I had considered as a career.”
While Ayla’s been working with children, Max Hazlin has been communicating with many different adults through his internship at the nonprofit, Voices of September 11th. He’s in charge of various projects such as working on a list of first responders who have since passed away from illnesses contracted at 9/11. Tasks such as these make the internship very fulfilling for Max. “If you especially like to work with people and to help people, this is a great start and a great way to understand how these non-profits function,” he said.
Max’s favorite part is the significant role this organization has in helping people cope with 9/11. “Especially in the beginning, this organization was calling families and helping them understand the laws and acts that were passed to help them,” he said. “And now that more people are getting older, like responders who developed illnesses and passed away, we’re helping those families.”
Finally, Katie Lydon hasn’t moved very far from school, for she is interning with 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Jennifer Baltz at Saxe Middle School. Katie has received many benefits from her internship in terms of career paths. “This internship has made me want to be a teacher even more than I did before, and it helped me to realize that I would like to teach 8th grade in the future,” she said.
Katie believes that the skills you learn in an internship are unparalleled to anything you learn in a classroom during the last month of school and recommends that future seniors choose something fulfilling. “My advice would be to choose something in an area that you are passionate in,” she said. “The complaints I have heard are from people who just blindly picked an office job without any real thought behind their selection. If you make sure that you are doing something that you love, the time will fly by!”
I’m so happy that I chose something that I love doing and will want to pursue in the future. At the end of school, all the seniors are really drained from doing work that doesn’t matter to them. If you choose an internship that doesn’t interest you, then you’ll be very unhappy. I’m glad I chose something that I love doing and will want to pursue in the future.
I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve been assigned during my internship such as writing different stories such as this one or interviewing teachers. It prepares me for college where I will be studying Newspaper and Online Journalism.
Photos from Top to Bottom:
Central Office Interns, Eden Neleman, Abby Weiss, and Nate Aliapoulias. Photo by Michael Horyzcun.
Jane Jiang hangs up a poster for LiveGirl, the non-profit where she interns.
Jane Jiang and Nicole Weiss make plans for the Youth Advisory Board.
Andrew Weitz pictured standing next to an EMT vehicle.
Ayla Senna completes one of her many tasks in the NC Library Children's Room.
Max Hazlin stands next to one of the artifacts salvaged by the rubble from 9/11 at Voices of September 11th.
Katie Lydon gives a Model UN presentation to a sixth grade class at Saxe Middle School.
Photos by Abby Weiss.