In August, we witnessed the devastation that occurred in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey and in response the Boston ALA Chapter spearheaded a challenge to assist our fellow Texas ALA Chapter members. They asked all ALA Chapters to donate $5 per member to the Red Cross. ALANYC accepted that challenge and donated $1,600 on behalf of our members.
In the same spirit, we also issued a challenge to our NYC chapter members to personally donate $10 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner.
Together we helped make a difference. Now, we’re working on bringing more relief by hosting the One America Appeal Charity Event on November 15 – with all proceeds going to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
MENTORSHIP: #GiveAKidABreak, #GetAWholeLotMoreInReturn!
A recounting by Stacy Joyce and Michael Leonardi
Stacy has been working with the mentorship program through Cristo Rey High School, for four years and recounts her experience…
I miss my high school interns. I didn’t realize how much they do for me until they’re gone for the summer! My interns come from Cristo Rey High School in Brooklyn. The students there are economically disadvantaged. Without this internship program, they would certainly not be able to attend a private school. It is a hard program to qualify for. Not only does the student have to be academically promising, but has to demonstrate a maturity not normally found in children their age.
One of my interns this past school year, Nyeka, is just 16 years old, and she boards at the school. Her family isn’t terribly far away, but far enough that a commute to Brooklyn would be a deal breaker. I was so impressed that this young girl was living apart from her family, a tremendous burden, to take advantage of this educational opportunity.
The internship program places the students with a sponsoring company, where they work one day each week, attending classes the other four days. The students are escorted to and from the school, and provided with a brown bag lunch. The sponsoring company’s part of the deal is that it pays the student’s tuition. The students go through training programs that give them experience in many of the software packages they will face in the workplace. They come to you with knowledge of the entire Microsoft Suite, and can operate basic office equipment.
The training also gives them instruction on how to be a great employee. Things like how to communicate with supervisors and coworkers. Can you imagine how nice it is to receive an email from an employee that says, “Hi. I’m here. I’m working on the projects you left for me, and will let you know when I am done and ready for more work. Have a great morning!” Of course, sometimes they are shy. They’re just kids, after all. However, school counselors will help you deal with working with a teenager, if that’s not already in your toolbox! Just another challenge of working with a multi-generational workforce!
This year, my second intern, Sarah, was a senior. She spent two years with us, and is going on to Brooklyn College in the fall. We are all so proud of her. The school was so excited to announce that 100% of their senior class of 2017 is moving on to college next year.
So, back to why I miss them. My interns were doing all of my invoicing for me. That chore alone occupied practically their entire mornings. Then they would move on to our records department, which was working on a major relabeling/renumbering project. (They both like that task a lot more than my invoicing. Something about working with a barcode scanner really resonated with them!). Now, during the summer hiatus, I find myself swimming in invoices that need processing, and filing that needs handling. Every time a new thing hits my desk or my in-box, I think of my missing interns. Selfish of me, I know.
There are many companies in the New York City area that are sponsoring Cristo Rey interns. In fact, my office is in the American Express Tower at Brookfield Place, and AmEx sponsors quite a few interns, which, sometimes, gives my interns a friend or two in the building to hang and travel with. I know there are other law firms that sponsor interns, too. On a sponsor conference call, I heard one administrator say that his intern trained with his paralegals and loved to do their court runs. I thought that was pretty cool and ambitious, and it makes me concerned I may need to be more creative with the work assignments I’m giving my own interns.
This school year, I vow to do better and come up with interesting and creative tasks in order to keep them engaged. I hope Nyeka agrees to return to us, and I look forward to the promise of a new intern to take Sarah’s place.”
Michael recounts some of his experiences…
Expanding that practice into the summer months to include college level interns, provides them with an insight into the business world they are about to enter and provides us with staff who are tech savvy, polished beyond their years and very community minded to assist with promoting your brand to worthy causes. These interns take on meaningful roles, love to be challenged and often become a great recruiting source should you have a permanent need in the future. Frequently, they can provide you a few hours a week, during their semesters, to continue their roles. Local students are always looking for part time work and those attending schools out of town, always have some time during breaks or can finish assignments remotely. I personally have hired a number of my interns to permanent positions and have maintained mentorship relationships with them over the years. One of my proudest hires, was Christina, a High School Junior, who worked with me the balance of her HS years, throughout her college years at Baruch, then for four more years after graduating with a BS Degree. Only after discussing with her the role she was ready for, which I didn’t have available at the moment, did we work together to find it for her at another firm. Now, over eight years later, and sixteen years after we first met, Christina is a homeowner, married, and mother of two boys. She continues to engage me in conversations about what her next professional opportunity may be and what my views are on how she can achieve it. Akin to one of your children seeking out your advice and very rewarding.
I have had some quality students come my way from the Bronx School of Law and Finance. Similar to the Cristo Rey program, eligible students from BSL&F are engaged into the programs which interest them and are given an opportunity to shadow seasoned professionals to gain a better understanding of how certain positions and companies operate. They are like sponges when paired with effective mentors and are guided into meaningful roles. These students are engaged and seize the opportunities presented to them. At the end of the term, we do a roundtable discussion, with representatives of all our professional and administrative departments to give them a broader perspective on possible career paths. For college students, Baruch is a great source of local talent in the finance and accounting arenas for my teams.
These are just a few examples of Giving a Kid a Break and Getting a Whole Lot of Return. Make it part of your accomplishments, to mentor a student and open up a door for them. They’ll often tear it down for you!
Please share your personal success stories in the internship world, for future publications.