Students Learn Valuable Skills Through Summer Internships
As Riverdale students eased back into the daily routine of waking up early, going to class, and doing homework, one question dominated discussion across campus: “What did you do over the summer?” Along with vacations, family visits, and hanging out with friends, many students, especially in 11th and 12th grade, spent a significant part of the summer as an intern; shadowing or working with professionals in various fields to observe first hand how the concepts they study in the classroom help them in the real world.
Riverdale runs the Summer Internship Program, which teaches students how to write résumés and interview for jobs before helping them find an internship with one of many cooperating companies in New York. Junior Li Goldstein shared her experience in the internship program after spending one week shadowing an editor at Harper-Collins, a local publishing company.
Goldstein said that many people connected to Riverdale, such as alumni and parents, offer internships to students through the program. In Goldstein’s case, “the vice-president of Harper-Collins actually is a parent at Riverdale, and so I contacted her,” she said.
She was able to read book proposals during the internship and loved “seeing the whole process…from start to finish how a book is made,” she said. Seeing “how professionals interact with one another” was an especially valuable lesson from her experience at Harper-Collins, Goldstein explained.
Students who are especially interested in scientific research often reach out to the heads of labs to find an internship. Senior Bailey Landow learned about a psychology lab that studies the parts of the brain associated with decision-making, especially in adolescents, in the Cornell College of Human Ecology while on a tour of the school.
“They talked about research opportunities, and I emailed one of the labs asking if I could get involved,” she said. Landow immediately set to work reviewing drafts of research papers in preparation for their publication, “they had me reading a lot...doing literature reviews and editing a bunch of articles,” she said.
Landow was quickly integrated into the daily workings of the lab, and she attended all of the scientists’ meetings during her four weeks there. She credits Ms. Widget Gralla’s psychology class for enabling her to contribute meaningfully to the lab as soon as she arrived. “It was definitely helpful to know all the fundamentals while talking about all this complex material…Riverdale definitely prepares you for a work environment, to be focused and to listen well,” she said. Landow will present her findings on how to properly teach Sex Ed to adolescents at the upcoming Science Symposium.
Senior Alexander Gellert worked for ABC’s television sales group for seven weeks. He said that knowledge of spreadsheets was crucial for his work, when he researched companies to whom ABC’s Chicago station would offer advertising space during Cubs’ games: “They had me doing a lot of spending reports and pulling different data, and in math class when we had brought out the computers and worked with different spreadsheets and different functions, that definitely applied.”
Gellert’s knowledge of the advertising industry increased, and he enjoyed working in a professional environment, learning “about what goes into planning different ads to go on different shows.”
Upperclassmen at Riverdale were able to find internships during the 2016 summer in any field of work that piqued their interest, and Li Goldstein, Bailey Landow, and Alexander Gellert all hope to continue learning about or working in publishing, psychology, and advertising, respectively. Their experiences in the workforce complemented the lessons they had learned in the classroom, teaching them what a day in the life looks like for adults who share their passions.