Kylee Harris: Intern with Colleen Gardephe, Director of PR
When I first entered the Family Services of Westchester building in Port Chester, I was already a little flustered. I left a little too late, had gotten lost on my way, and was unsure of where to park. Additionally, this was my first day at my first internship as a college student. My previous summers had been spent as a counselor at the local sports camp. I knew this summer would be different, but I had no idea what to expect. As directed by Gerry Goldberg, I was told I would be working in the Development Department. I am a double major in communication and psychology at the University of Delaware, and working with Colleen Gardephe in public relations was deemed the perfect fit.
When I finally made it to the office, I was greeted warmly by everyone in the Development Department. Within moments I already felt comfortable, and I could tell that FSW was a good place for me to be this summer. In the relatively short amount of time I’ve spent here, I’ve already gained so much valuable experience. Through various projects and assignments, I have practiced skills in editing, writing, information gathering and research. Despite being an “intern,” I never felt underappreciated or was given busy work — a rare thing in the internship world. During this summer I created a fully updated inventory of all the times that FSW was mentioned in the media in the past year. Also, I have written press releases and program summaries that have actually been published on the website and printed in other FSW publications. Being able to see my hard work in print is so rewarding and motivating.
One of the highlights of my summer was when I got to work closely with the I Believe, I Achieve students from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. In early July, I was given the task of creating magazine packets for 5th graders. These packets would be used to guide the students in writing an article for the first ever I Believe, I Achieve magazine. Twice a week, approximately 15 students would be coming into FSW’s Tech Center to research, write, and edit articles based on a topic of their choosing. What I didn’t realize was I would get the chance to personally assist with the class and interact with these kids directly. In no time at all, I felt very connected to all of them. I loved how after just the second day, they were trying to drag me to Buffalo Wild Wings with them after class. It was unexpected moments like these that have made this internship one I will not soon forget.
On one Tuesday morning in July, interns from all different branches of FSW were brought together over grapes, strawberries, and scones for a special “Meet the Executive Staff” event. Starting with Susan Wayne, CEO, each member of the executive staff gave up their time to talk to us about FSW, working at a non-profit organization, and their personal career path. We all learned so much, and we were so grateful that they came to speak to us. I am already half-way through my undergraduate college career, and every decision seems like a life-changing one. However, listening to their stories helped put everything in perspective. They all shared words of wisdom that I will keep with me for the unpredictable years ahead.
Overall, I feel I have had an incredible experience as a summer intern with FSW. If there is any advice I can give to those seeking an internship it is this: Don’t put up with an office that has you filing papers and making copies. Find a place where they want you to learn and grow and experience what working there is really like. Go where your time is viewed as equally valuable to you as it is for them. And once you find that place, say “Hi” to everyone at FSW for me.