By Kallie Hoffman
The spring quarter is the last lap of a long relay; a competitive race between the social and scholastic lives of the seniors filled with preparing for prom, final exams, summer suntans and completing the coursework necessary to graduate.
At the beginning of May, the senior class traded in their textbooks for a student internship, giving them an opportunity to leave the Byram Hills campus and be exposed to the rigors and challenges of a work environment. Students are permitted to work at any job that suits their interests, as long as the position is not supervised by a family member and they do not receive financial compensation or other remuneration for the work. People often do internships at the younger schools within the school district, in Manhattan, or at local places such as the Westchester Mall or Equinox gym. One objective of the internship program at BHHS is to teach students necessary skills for being an accountable and responsible worker. To implement ideas of accountability, students are required to check in with their advisors on a periodic basis, meet all deadlines, and complete daily journal entries. Furthermore, through the senior internship program, seniors are taught some of the basics of finding a job and presenting themselves in the best way possible to obtain a job. Putting these skills to practice prior to the commencement of their respective internships, each senior was required to create a formal resume to be reviewed by his or her English teacher. One other objective of the internship program is to spark an interest in the particular vocation, industry or market sector that the student is working in and to potentially create an opportunity for future employment.
Overall, an internship serves as a nice break from regimented classroom activities, as well as a chance to observe different daily rituals in the months before college. It can be an exciting time for high school seniors, but it is not without its challenges, as students who are enrolled in advanced placement courses or are involved in other leadership programs at Byram Hills are expected to return to school to fulfill these additional responsibilities.
Since many seniors are required to return to the Byram Hills campus for several hours each day, students must be strategic in choosing their location and factor in the time needed to travel between destinations. Senior Dana Zamat, who is working at a local farm, explains that she is “passionate about her job and loves that it is in close proximity to King Kone Ice Cream,” but concedes that geography affected her internship decision because she is enrolled in five advanced placement classes and needs to constantly drive back to the high school. Students such as Dana have to be keenly aware of time so as not to be late for work or class. There is also the challenge of adapting to different roles and responsibilities, as it is not always easy to transition from picking raspberries in the field to studying European history and the Fall of Constantinople. Students greatly enjoy the balance provided by splitting the day between the classroom and their internship site. Senior Kyra Aronne, a peer leader at Byram Hills and an intern at H.C. Crittenden, has earned special privileges by virtue of the contributions she has made to the welfare of other students. Kyra is only required to spend forty minutes in the classroom with high school sophomores each day educating these students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but in exchange for her time spent educating students at the high school, the amount of time she is required to work at Crittenden is reduced. This allows Kyra and other students in senior leadership positions to manage their time efficiently, while still being available to assist younger students at Byram Hills.
Life is about managing time and establishing priorities, and senior year of high school offers compelling evidence that this is easier said than done. Most 17 year-olds have never worked in an office setting, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the different tasks or a thick pile of papers that require your attention. At the same time, seniors at Byram Hills often take advanced placement courses, and so whether the internship they have chosen is mundane or enthralling, these students must leave sufficient time to handle the extensive course material assigned by their teachers. Senior Ramy Berenblum explains that she had to study for “weeks leading up to her tests in May, so [she] selected a job that was low in stress and high in enjoyment.”
The senior internship program introduces students to the expectations associated with work and career, albeit for a limited period of time. It may also convince seniors to pursue a more extensive internship over the summer or help provide some insight into the type of classes they would like to take in college. Senior internships are an exceptional opportunity for students to become more independent, creative, well-rounded and responsible, giving seniors a quick glimpse into adulthood!