Biology major Brittany Lee ’13 interned at the Oneonta Community Health Center, a volunteer-driven clinic that provides free primary health care to low-income, uninsured adults.
She worked at the weekly clinic all semester, assisting the financial screener in meeting with new patients. “I’d listen to their story, evaluate their situation, and try to offer them assistance with finding resources that could help them.”
Brittany also helped with filing, learned the computer system in time to pinch-hit as receptionist and even mopped up water when the clinic experienced minor flooding. “She just seems to be the kind of student who sees what needs to be done and jumps in and does it,” said Kay Stuligross, president of the health center’s board of directors. “We have been delighted with her.”
A big part of the internship was the development of a much-needed community resource guide. After researching services offered throughout Otsego County, Brittany created a three-ring binder filled with information on food banks, cancer screening programs, workforce training and other resources to share with patients at the clinic.
Coming from a relatively affluent area of Westchester County, N.Y., Brittany said it was eye-opening to meet hard-working people who can’t afford health insurance and to discover the level of volunteer support that’s available in her college community. “I had no idea that Oneonta had so many services like this,” she said. “I was just sheltered in this little campus world.”
Working at the clinic was very different from the health administration internship Brittany completed two summers ago. She said she enjoyed the interactions with patients and gained a new appreciation for current issues surrounding health care reform—so much so that she is now leaning toward pursuing a career in public health.
For the health center, the internship “worked out wonderfully,” Stuligross said, offering patients an extra dose of compassionate listening and creating a resource that will benefit local residents long after Brittany’s time in Oneonta.
Computer Science and Mathematics
SUNY Oneonta Information Technology Services
“Everyone was so welcoming, friendly and taught me so much!”
Laura Munn didn’t have to go far to gain real-world experience in computer networking and telecommunications. A senior majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics, Laura found a spring 2012 internship right on campus, in the Networking and Telecommunication branch of SUNY Oneonta’s Informational Technology Services.
“I learned a lot about deadlines, and not being able to plan for mistakes. I also learned that sometimes when you have a project, it's best not to make a list of too many things you want to accomplish; it's better to be more realistic,” she said.
In addition to expanding her programming skills, Laura got a real taste of what a job in the field would be like. Staff in the department made a list of projects and set out the requirements of each. Laura’s primary goal was to create a database for maintenance of Telecommunications records. Specifications included things such as "ability for staff to update records," "appropriate security and backup procedures" and "technical and user documentation of the system." The project required Laura to work with office staff on the design and usability of the database, interpret and organize existing data, decide which database format to use, build the database and then add a web front-end for user access. When she wasn’t working on the database, Laura learned a bit about topics such as disaster planning and response—valuable knowledge not necessarily included in her classroom studies.
“I learned a lot about coding, databases and information technology. It definitely showed me I want to be a software engineer when I graduate,” said Laura. “I loved being able to go to an office every day and see how people interact, and I felt like my work was important and not just busy work. Everyone was so welcoming, friendly and taught me so much!”
Food Service and Restaurant Administration
Creative Event Planning
New York , NY
December 2012-January 2013
“I learned how to direct others into working together to make a specific vision come to life.”
Christina Vavro, a junior majoring in Food Service and Restaurant Administration with a minor in Event Planning, spent last winter break as an intern at Creative Event Planning in New York City.
“I really enjoyed this opportunity,” she said. “I worked very closely, with Lynn Silverman, who runs the company. She has been in the business for over 20 years and has built a large client base over time.”
When Christina started the four-week internship, Silverman was making the final arrangements for a Winter Wonderland-themed corporate Christmas party on the rooftop of the Rockefeller Center, with a view of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. She and Silverman arrived four hours before the event started to make sure flowers, tables, bar service and decorations—including blue lights and shimmering crystals—were set up without a hitch.
“Prior to this I had never really been involved in the setup of a large event.,” said Christina. “I learned how to direct others into working together to make a specific vision come to life. I really valued my time working with Lynn because it provided me with hands-on experience in the field that I would eventually like to enter.”
It only took one day as an intern at WABC’s “Live! With Kelly” for Kara Olney to see her work on live TV.
One of the interns’ jobs was to scour the web for quirky news items that Kelly Ripa could highlight during the show’s opening “host chat” segment. On the first day of her internship this past summer, Olney found a story about an elderly couple who had worn matching outfits every day for 50 years and submitted it to the producer for consideration
“Twenty minutes later, Kelly was talking about it on the air. I thought, `Wow, I just got here and she’s reading something that I printed out.’ It was kind of surreal.”
The internship was the perfect gig for the senior Mass Communications/Computer Art major, who has been heavily involved in SUNY Oneonta’s student-run TV station, WIRE TV, since her freshman year, including serving as executive producer for “Late Night Oneonta.”
Olney shared housing with a friend who was also in New York for a summer internship and worked eight to nine hours each day, rotating between different areas of the show. On Mondays, she helped with audience coordination; Tuesdays she was in the control room observing the director, and on Wednesdays, she assisted in the studio, interacting with producers, floor managers and camera operators. Thursday and Fridays were devoted to office work, including fielding phone calls from viewers and processing ticket requests.
Being in the studio, in the middle of the action during the live show, was her favorite part. “It’s a hectic environment, but when everything comes together it’s rewarding.”
Landing the internship took initiative and patience. After hearing from a friend that WABC was holding an internship night in New York City to recruit college students for a variety of summer positions, Olney worked with WIRE-TV adviser Jared Stanley to refine her resume. On the day of the event, she took a bus down to the city and waited in line for hours with about 500 other students for a chance to meet one-on-one with a producer. After her 15-minute interview, she stayed overnight with her sister in Brooklyn, then took a 7 a.m. bus back to Oneonta. A week later, WABC called to offer her the internship.
Though being away from her friends and family all summer and working long days for no pay was challenging, Olney said the experience was totally worth it.
“Getting to shadow producers and seeing how things work in the industry was very helpful,” she said. In addition to incorporating new insights into her work at WIRE-TV, where she’ll serve as station manager this year, she’s confident the experience she gained working at an Emmy award-winning show will help her land her first job in the industry.
Carol Benedict: SUNY Oneonta Career Development Center Intern Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Cheryl Parisian: Athelas Therapeutic Riding Intern Fall 2012 and Spring 2013
Sam Brown-Shaklee and Alexander Lawrence: Otsego County Planning Department Interns Spring 2013