Nine 2018 Senior Seminar alumnae returned to Tappan Zee High School on December 21 to share their experiences with current seniors preparing for spring semester internships. Senior Seminar is a full-year English course offered in partnership with Participation in Government. For the spring semester, Senior Seminar students spend 80 hours interning with a community mentor to explore a career or personal interest and are required to keep a journal, write a research paper and deliver a presentation reflecting on their experience.
Observing and learning from physical therapists at ProCore Physical Therapy in Blauvelt was a valuable career exploration experience for Tara Sullivan. “It was really helpful because I’m going into this field,” she said. “I covered a lot of what I’m learning in college.”
Anna Acosta reported a similar experience. “I was in the South Orangetown Ambulance Corps Youth Corps and loved it. I gained a lot of experience and it all paid off when I took an EMT course this summer,” she explained. “I was able to get cleared faster because of my hours and experience through Senior Seminar.”
For others, being immersed in a profession they were interested in helped students to see things differently. “I thought I wanted to major in education,” said Susannah Kleiner, who interned at Cottage Lane Elementary School. “It was great, but through the experience I realized that teaching wasn’t for me.” Meanwhile, a few hallways away, Kirsten Ranieri found her passion working in a fifth-grade classroom. “By having two teachers as mentors, I was able to work with diverse groups of students. I decided to become an elementary education major with a Spanish concentration.”
Liz Carroll offered advice for those in the process of identifying their Senior Seminar mentors: “You get what you put into your experience, choose wisely.”
Gaining hands-on, real world experience can be life-changing for high school students, but finding a mentor is challenging. Seniors spend several weeks researching and reaching out to prospective leads and organizations in their areas of interest, but have had difficulty landing internship opportunities in STEM fields (specifically, biochemistry, chemistry, forensic science, nanotechnology, neuroscience and medicine), graphic design, law enforcement, law and event planning.
Internship format may vary and can include job shadowing and/or off-site, independent projects. Mentors must provide a minimum of 1 hour of direct mentoring weekly.
Interested in mentoring? For more information or to volunteer, please email Senior Seminar teachers Sarah McMane ([email protected]ocsd.org), Laura Sorrese Lefkow ([email protected]) and Greg Laskow ([email protected]).