Contrary to the stereotype of high school students devoting their entire summers to sleep and Netflix, McNair students worked diligently throughout the summer. Students worked in a variety of environments: from mural painting through the Jersey City Summer Works Arts Program, to greeting guests at Liberty Science Center, to acting as a locker attendant at a city pool, to interning at Brown Brothers and Harriman and the chemistry department at Rutgers University. The nature of the students’ responsibilities differed greatly. Nevertheless, various factors were consistent.
Tenzin Lhamo, a junior and a participant in the VPA program, created an original piece for a city mural. “The most difficult aspect of the experience would probably be the collaboration,” she said. “We don’t all think alike, so it’s hard to connect our pieces together.” Shivani Patel’s internship involved similar collaboration. Shivani researched the synthesis of borane-functionalized polymers for use in Lewis acid catalysis with professors and graduate students at Rutgers University. Her love for chemistry comes from a familiar place. “Mr. Stanton, the Chemistry teacher at our school, mentored me and got me this amazing opportunity!” Bhavin Patel and Aiyana Thomas’s jobs required patience and positivity. Bhavin was a teen docent volunteer at the Liberty Science Center, and he was tasked with greeting and assisting guests. “The most difficult aspect of the experience was explaining to the children why they couldn't do something,” Bhavin described. As a pool locker attendant at MS 40, Aiyana also had to manage guests, making sure that no one was fighting, and monitoring the crowd during drills. Both Bhavin and Aiyana said that as a result of their summer work experiences they became more independent and more aware of financial concepts such as revenue and taxes. Mohammed Hussain and Othman Gbadamassi worked specifically on finance at Brown Brothers and Harriman. Mohammed found the job to be extremely different from school. “When you’re in high school, everyone has this idea of working together and a sense of community,” he explained. “But in such a big company, everyone is doing their own thing and, as an intern, coordinating with different people to make sure they got what they wanted when they wanted was something that definitely took getting used to.” Mohammed took on a big responsibility: he worked on a map system that notified employees of their coworkers’ locations. While Othman, who worked on the project with Mohammed, was initially nervous due to his inexperience, “being able to witness the many jobs and functions of people within the industry has increased my interest and has shown me the various paths that I could follow.”
McNair students have one thing in common: their ambition not only leads them to summer jobs, but to invaluable life lessons. No matter what environment they are placed in, they will be able to practice McNair’s three core ideals: intellectual excellence, personal development, and civic responsibility. - by Sofia Lesnewski, 11th grade, McNair Academic High School