Editor’s note: This summer, several New York City public high school students are working at the Museum as part of our High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP). Four of this year’s Apprentices wrote about their experiences working here and the aspect of the apprenticeship that they enjoyed most. Their bios are at the bottom of the blog post.
The Office Environment
Before we began the summer portion of the High School Apprenticeship Program we were asked to choose six different departments to work in. Once the summer work began, we rotated to another department each week. For me, being in an office space was an enjoyable and exciting time. I was given a cubicle and a “departmentor” who would guide me through certain tasks throughout the week. I learned a variety of things, from how to use Excel to file invoices for the Finance department to making RJ45 cables for the IT department. It truly is a professional experience that I am so glad to have taken part in. When I get older, I wish to go into business, so learning how to be an active member in an office environment is just one of the many ways the High School Apprenticeship Program benefited me. — Jacob Elias
Social Skills/Connections with Museum Personnel
When I think of a museum, I think of a quiet place – so I expected little interaction or social connection with Museum coworkers. But I was wrong.
I’m not an outgoing person when I first meet people and I can feel extremely nervous. This causes me to become quiet and seem withdrawn. But in the High School Apprenticeship Program we work with new people all the time. I was forced to break out of my comfort zone to become a more efficient worker. Once I was more comfortable, I was able to make connections with different staff who have all made me feel extremely accepted and comfortable.
Last but not least, in Visitor Services — which I’m a hundred percent sure I learned from — I interacted with different people from different backgrounds all the time. This allowed me to get better at speaking to people individually and in groups. My social skills improved through my work this summer, and it allowed me to make connections to people, which are great things that I didn’t expect to gain from this experience. — Jahiem Carridice
Who would have thought that a program would have the ability to turn an unadventurous girl into an open-minded young adult? Well, that’s exactly what the High School Apprenticeship Program did for me! Week by week, as I visited a new museum, I would walk away with information that I didn’t know I needed. [Editor’s note: As part of the program, HSAP students visit a different museum or cultural institution on summer Fridays.] For instance, when we visited the National Museum of the American Indian, I gained so much knowledge on what it truly means to have respectful conversations with others as well as how to understand and connect differences.
Another way that these museum trips broadened my horizons has to do with curating. While following my departmentor during my week in the Collections & Exhibitions department, I found a love for artifacts and curation. Now, whenever I set foot in a museum, I not only ponder deeply on artifacts but I ask a series of questions – and in return, I receive even more information. Our Friday museum trips have increased my knowledge and helped me transform into an open-minded individual. — Abigail Astwood
At the beginning of our Apprenticeship, the first week was more like a rehearsal so we could shine in the weeks to come. That first week, we dedicated 1-2 hours a day to tour practice, and as the week passed, we began memorizing the tour. [Editor’s note: This year’s High School apprentices gave tours of our special exhibition Ordinary Treasures: Highlights from the Museum of Jewish Heritage Collection to groups of children visiting the Museum. The Apprentices give tours in pairs.]
Eventually, our confidence while delivering tours began to build. Soon after that, our supervisor Joana Arruda expected us to be off-script and we weren’t allowed to have our scripts with us. This approach made us all very anxious, but it turned out to be easy.
On our first day of giving tours to student groups, we all received our schedules, and everyone saw the time they had to be in the lobby to give their tours. We were all nervous and didn’t want the tour time to come. When the time did arrive, we were set up with our tour partner and our summer day camp groups. At first, we were shy, the kids didn’t interact with us, and we struggled with traffic in the gallery. However, having our weekly tour debrief meeting to discuss minor concerns made us all into better tour guides.
Today we are all excellent tour guides in the Ordinary Treasures exhibition and can’t wait for our summer day campers to arrive at the Museum. For me, giving tours is the highlight of my day. It’s so unbelievable that we get to educate talented young kids from all across the city about heritage. The Apprentices have all gained various skills that have made us into better leaders and public speakers. —Rosaly Gonzalez
Jacob is a rising junior at Gaynor McCown ELS in Staten Island. He’s the captain of his school’s varsity tennis team and is part of the varsity fencing team. He also founded his school’s Model UN program and chess team. On the weekend, Jacob volunteers at HOOPH, a local organization that does horseback riding for disabled children. When he’s older, he hopes to pursue a career as a hedge fund investor
Jahiem will be in twelfth grade at Bronx Preparatory Charter High School. He is an active member of his student body and participates in chess club, flag football team, baseball team, and men’s club. Jahiem’s favorite subjects are history and math, and his favorite book is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling.
Abigail is a rising senior at John Adams High School in Queens. She enjoys playing volleyball and plays on her school’s varsity girls’ team. Last summer, Abigail worked at the Brooklyn Multi-Cultural Community Center where she helped to organize and implement various events such as a school supply drive.
Rosaly is a rising senior at The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx. She is fluent in Spanish and volunteers as a translator at her school for parent-teacher conferences. Additionally, she is active in College Now, StepUp, and runs on the track and field team. Last summer, Rosaly worked with The Summer Youth Employment Program, assisting a head teacher and supervising middle school students. She hopes to become a pediatrician or an anesthesiologist.