Friday, April 10, 2015

MCC Program: Urban Assembly School for Green Careers

Student Work-based Learning Opportunities

The 2013-14 GreenLife Internship Wraps Up.

This spring semester, five 11th graders completed their 9-month long intership with GreenLife, a horticulture and job-readiness internship program funded by The Friends of Roosevelt Park. The students, Paloma Paredes Jacquez, Gail Irby, Jesica Perez, Jeferson Nunez and Mamethierno Faye, spent the summer and fall maintaining the green spaces and gardens of Theodore Roosevelt Park, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Through this internship, the students worked closely with Richard Squire, their direct supervisor. Under his leadership and guidance, they learned how to use a variety of gardening tools and equipment, such as weedwackers, lawnmowers and hand pruners, to maintain the gardens and grounds. The students unanimously agreed with Gail's reflection on Richard: "He was great. He worked with us and was there with us every day. He talked with us and worked to understand us."

According to Mamethierno and Gail, in addition to working with and learning from Richard, the highlight of this internship was the opportunity to work outdoors with their hands, to spend the day, in nice weather, working with people you know and like.

Beyond the immediate horticultural skills, students learned other "soft skills" necessary for success in workplace. As stated by Paloma, the students learned "how to work with people." Jeferson and Gail both expanded upon that: Jeferson stating that the internship helped to improve their communication skills as they frequently had to be able to "correctly answer the people walking through the gardens and park who'd ask them about the flowers and plants with which they were working." "We learned even more about the importance of following directions and meeting expectations," said Gail, "even when you don't like the work. ...You're not always going to enjoy everything about your work, or the people you work with, and so you have to learn how to be happy with it and get it done."

The Spring 2015 Scholars-at-Work Program is Underway

Beginning in February 2015, seven of our seniors with advanced standing, Saul Robles, Naod Alemayhu, Mariama Barry, Anastasia Foxe, Yeltsin Morales and Aissatou Ndiye, were successfully accepted into the Department of Education's competative Scholars at Work program. Scholars at Work, a joint initiative begun by the New York City Department of Education, the New York City Department of Small Business Services, and the New York City Workforce Investment Board, began in 2010 to provide increased options and opportunities for New Yorkers graduating from the City's career and technical education (CTE) high schools (of which, UAGC is one). During the 14-week paid internship, participating students not only receive career training and experiences at their worksites, but they also take part in job-readiness workshops and recruitment events provided by the City's Workforce 1 career centers.

Our students, Saul Robles, Naod Alemayhu, Mariama Barry, Anastasia Foxe, Yeltsin Morales and Aissatou Ndiye, are working at The MTA's Rapid Transit Operations, Charan Electrical Enterprises, Skyline Sightseeing, Hells Kitchen Bath and Home, Super Shuttle at the Hilton Hotel, and at Panorama Windows respectively.

In terms of direct connections to the green careers, Aissatou, working at Panorama Windows, is learning about, and watching, the manufacturing of low-e (low-emissivity) windows, for "all types of buildings," residential and commerical. Naod, at Charan Electrical, who is planning on majoring in electrical engineering next year in college, is building on his knowledge base of circuitry from his prior Electrial courses, and is learning about new types of conduits and wall recepticals, and how to insulate around them to seal off air leaks for the improved energy performance of walls. Anastastaisa, at Hells Kitchen Bath and Home, is working directly with her supervisor to design blueprints for their clients' home renovations, is learning "the different types of wood for cabinetry so [she] can make [home improvement] recommendations."

Indirectly related to UAGC's sustainability theme, Saul, at the MTA's Rapid Transit Operations, does one thing at his job: "I help try to keep the trains working on time without delay. I monitor mileage units. After a certain amount of miles, they're (train cars) taken in to ensure they continue to work properly. I study and manage a lot of data tables – typing in numbers for other people to make recommendations for trains to service. It's a lot of responsibility, but I like that."

Beyond making connections between our school's theme and mission, this experience is also providing our students with the "soft skills" required for success in both college and the workplace. At Hells Kitchen Bath and Home, Anastasia is learning that "it's all about accuracy. If you get one detail or calculation wrong, the entire plan will be thrown off and ruined. You need to be precise. One of our clients is redesigning his kitchen--because of the way his building was constructed, there are corners that are hard to work within. We had to decrease the size of the cabinet he’s putting in so that he can get what wants in the space he’s got...and we had to convince him that that's what was best." Anastasia is also learning, as an intern, the delicate workplace art of managing up: "I always feel like I’m trying to teach them to be organized with their clients, and organizing their clients' plans and [blue] prints." For Yeltsin, interning with Super Shuttle, the art of the sale is his prime learning task. Through his job, he's "learning a lot of people skills--how to communicate, listen and persuade. I'm like a salesman; I have to convice people (the various hotel concierges and guests) that they need what I’m selling/representing. I really like talking with people so this isn't a challenge for me." Mariama and Aissatou, at Skyline Sightseeing and Panorama Windows, also acknowledged that they're learning the importance of communication with their clients and customers. Mariama has to "help customers figure out how to plan their trips--where to buy tickets for events, where to board [tour] busses...I need to know a lot about the City...and, no matter what, even if they're wrong, the customer is always right. They make the company--so they have to be put first." At Panorama Windows, Aissatou "[talks] to new people on the phone--listening to what they want so that I can tell them about what we can provide, and how to achieve what they want for their homes in terms of increased sustainability" and decreased energy costs.

How do these students plan to use their experiences to guide their future career paths?

Naod: I'm hoping that they offer me a summer job. I want to study electrical engineering in college, and want to be an electrician while I’m fulltime in college. I want to learn about and know how to install new devices. I want to learn everything I can about electrical systems.

Yeltsin: I think the communication skills will really help me with job interviews in the future. If I become an artist, then I can use my communication skills through my art to get out messages.

Aissatou: I think this will help me get future jobs--I'm able to expand my resume and get job training skills. When I'm older, looking for a job, I've already got some experience in the business world. I could get a job working in an office as an office manager.

Saul: I still don’t know what I want to do in life, and am hoping that this internship will help me figure out what I want to do. I like a lot of responsibility, and would prefer office work to hands-on.

Mariama: [A counterpoint to Saul] I'm learning that I do not want to work in an office. Last summer, I also worked in an office--and it was really boring.

Anastasia: My line of work is somewhat aligned to what I want to do--I want to work in.

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