Providing Opportunity: High School Internship Program Partners With Local Chamber

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Serenity Garden created by the Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce (Photo courtesy of Barbara Mars)

The Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School has worked hard to get students ready for the world in front of them. The school’s business department is doing this with an internship program that connects students and local businesses.

“It has always been another option for students to experience the workforce,” said Scott Lieberman, one of the advisors of the program. “It’s been around for quite a while, but now we’re actually looking to build it and that’s where the big push came with the [Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce]. The partnership to build it, make it stronger, more meaningful to students and through the partnership make it grow with the district and the local community.”

The partnership intially began with the department’s Virtual Enterprise course taught by Gina Farrell, who recently became a co-advisor of the intership program with Lieberman. Students are tasked with coming up with a business, doing trade shows with other virtual programs at other high schools and networking with the chamber of commerce.

“I had reached out to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce (POBCOC) to ask them if I could bring my students to introduce their virtual business to the chamber,” said Farrell. “The chamber was very receptive, and we went and we explained what the program was and what the business was that started an initial relationship with them. From that, the receptiveness of seeing the students and how they were trying to network with the business professionals started [the conversation] about utilizing the chamber more and creating a partnership with them to build our internship program.”

Thus far, many local businesses have opened their doors to student interns, such as the Law Office of Elan Wurtzel, Coliseum Kitchen and Ned Marzigliano’s State Farm office. The process for the students begins in the spring when they fill out an interest form that lists a variety of industries they may want to work in. They are asked to choose a few industries to give the advisors an idea of the opportunities that fit the student. The advisors review the forms and try to find the best fit for each student, which includes attending chamber meetings to see which businesses are interested. Students then begin their internship in the fall.

Jesse Weber (right) is a student currently enrolled in the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School internship program, working with Ned Marzigliano (left) of the local State Farms Insurance Office.
(Photo courtesy of Scott Lieberman)

“Think of it like job placement in the work environment,” said Farrell. “Scott and I are the people who put two people together, looking at what the student wants and what the host perspective is. And sometimes it’s not as clear as wanting to go into accounting and going to an accounting firm. Sometimes its I want to get into accounting, but we placed you in Coliseum Kitchen because you need to understand that if you are a CPA and you’re going to go to a business as their CPA, like how you would look at what their business is and what things you would be getting out of or need from their business.”

“Experience is everything,” said Lieberman. “It gives them something to speak about when they go on interviews, when they apply for colleges and when they write their essays. These real-life experiences will help them succeed. And we are very fortunate that [President Andrew] Lamkin and the chamber have really let us into their organization and post us on their website. It’s been such a nice upgrade to the program, if you want to call it that.”

In a statement to the Herald, Lamkin said he is happy to have the chamber be a part of helping these students build their careers.

“The POB Chamber is proud to be involved in a program that provides our next generation of small businesses owners and professionals with the experience they need as they begin exploring career options,” said Lamkin.

Students are receptive to the program as well, Lieberman and Farrell said. Not only does it give them experience in a field, but it gives them general job hunting experience like writing cover letters and resumes, how the interview process works, how to dress for an interview.

“We really applaud the business professionals on is understanding that we want this to be a real process,” said Lieberman.

Anybody interested in supporting a program or potentially hosting an intern can reach out to the program by emailing pobintership@gmail.com. You may also call the business office at 516-434-3226.

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