When it comes to striving in excellence, former Westwood Regional Jr./Sr. High School students are doing just that. Whether they are just commencing their college journey or in the process of jump starting their career, internships have lended a helping hand to all Westwood graduates. Internships, paid or not, offer a platform of opportunity to young students that opens the doors to an endless amount of opportunities.
For many former Westwood students, their interests in internships stemmed from experiences in high school. Brian Molk, a 2011 Westwood graduate and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania graduate claims that his love for anthropology was perpetuated in his high school journalism classes. He discovered his passion for writing, “which of course is a large part of anthropology,” said Molk, “Ms. Nagle [an english and journalism teacher] allowed me to use her class as a creative outlet for my first love of writing about the hip-hop and rap industry.”
Kelsey Nobile, another student who found her career passion in high school, graduated in 2012. Nobile is a current senior at Marist College where she majors in Media Production Studies. Taking journalism courses in high school set the foundation for her opportunities to work at Entertainment Tonight /The Insider and Live! with Kelly and Michael in New York City. Nobile hopes to use these experiences to create a career in the future.
After finding a true interest, whether it be through high school classes or something else, the first step to finding an internship is a connection. The first thing a student thinks of when going to get an internship, is how? Many people claim that it is not what you know, it’s who you know. This seems to be evident, as Westwood students are pros at seeking out solid connections.
For 2012 Westwood graduate and Ramapo College graduate, Aliona Parker, nailing an internship with the assistant prosecutor for the state of New Jersey was as simple as putting herself out there and making a connection. After sitting through a courtroom case one day, Parker was able to see Kenyatta Stewart, a well known attorney who happened to also be her fraternity brother. “I am in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority inc., he is in Alpha Phi Alpha Sorority Inc.” After approaching him, “He proceeded to tell me to come to his office the next day and I started.”
For others, a connection could be with a professor. Steven Malvasi, who graduated from Westwood in 2011 and majored in athletic training at East Stroudsburg University, nailed his dream internship with a simple connection. He was the Athletic Training Intern for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League for training camp and the preseason. With no connections to begin with, he simply submitted his resume and cover letter to 8 NFL teams Athletic Training staffs with hopes of being chosen as a summer intern. After not being contacted back or told that teams already chose their summer interns, a connection was made with his professor that changed it all. He said, “He sent the Falcons staff an email recommending me for the position. In July the Falcons called me, and after several minutes of interview style questions they asked if I wanted to join the staff for the summer.”
2014 Westwood graduate and Ithaca College student Greg Smith, established a connection with an alumni, who he met at a sports symposium, in order to achieve his internship with the New York Jets for Game Day Operations. He knows first hand the importance of networking in his field. Smith said, “In a field like sports, it is important to make connections and network as soon as possible. I would not have gotten this job if it weren’t for networking and getting my name out there.”
Class of 2010 graduate, Kelsey Pulzone currently works as a stage manager at Juilliard School Of Arts. Pulzone majored in Technical Theatre and Design and credits her career influence to Woodington Players because she got involved with the theater program which gave her a foundation to build on. Pulzone is another perfect example who took advantage of the courses offered here at Westwood which lead to a future career path in the end. Pulzone says,”I started with JPAC in 8th grade at Westwood high and loved theatre so much I continued into high school and it no longer became just something to do after school, but something I felt passionate about.”
Students may even find their careers through studying abroad. For example, Caitlin Cushing, graduate of 2008, studied abroad in England for her masters degree in Medieval History and Art history at York University. By studying abroad, Cushing was able to receive an internship with the York Archaeological Trust creating a museum exhibition on the City of York during the Wars of the Roses. During this internship, Cushing researched the different noble families that fought in and the different battles that took place during the wars. Cushing was also able to go on a lot of field trips for pictures and firsthand experience to the different sites of the battle outside of London (the Battle of Barnet) as well as in the Yorkshire area (Battle of Heworth Moor, the Battle of Wakefield, Topcliffe, etc.).
Another unique way students can get involved with finding their career is by attending a career fair. Class of 2012 graduate, Cassidy Yotnokparian, attended a career fair that her college, The University of New haven, was hosting. One of the people Cassidy met was an intern and told her to contact the coordinator which lead to her internship in the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is a wonderful way to find out what career path you can choose in your junior or senior year of college. By attending these fairs you can get to meet new people and create connections that will help you in the future.
Most importantly, internships offer students the oppoortunity to explore a platform for their future career. Janelle Commerford, a 2012 Westwood graduate who currently attends LIM College where she majors in Fashion Merchandising, found her true passion for fashion in her internships. After interning at the Ralph Lauren Corporation numerous times in the past, she achieved an internship at Club Monaco in the Men’s Merchandising department after using her past connections at Ralph Lauren to book an interview. Commerford expresses her love for her career path, “Fashion is very interesting because it does not change very often. Yes, there are trends and fads, but fashion only changes when the world changes or a new silhouette is invented and accepted. This interests me and how to market and merchandise these clothes to consumers to maximize profit and sustainability is my niche. Since fashion has not changed for so long, this becomes a challenge.” During her internship, her day to day activities included performing research, organizing samples, working in buy sheets, and her favorite, comp shopping. She explains, “This internship proved that I chose the right career path and ensured that this is what I really love to do.”
It is evident that former Westwood students are taking full initiative with internships. Whether they are discovering their true passion for their career in high school or somewhere else, they are making connections.