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January 31, 2024

By Molly Alpern, Assistant Director for Advancement Communications

Each summer, many Fieldston Upper students from the Ethical Culture Fieldston School make their way to offices, camps, and businesses across New York City and beyond to take part in the Fieldston Summer Jobs and Internships Initiative. Some will take just a few days to learn about an industry, while others will spend the whole summer exploring a potential career path.

“Our goal with the initiative is twofold: providing opportunities to students and recent graduates, and connecting our community with talented interns to support their places of business,” says Lauren Servidio, Interim Director of Alumni Relations, who has managed the program for the past two years. “We know the incredible value that our community has to offer our students, and it’s exciting to hear about how much each student contributes to the opportunity they take part in.”

The jobs and internships available reflect a wide range of industries and types of work and can serve as a litmus test for Fieldston Upper students as they consider their future — and getting a taste of a potential career can be life changing. Ariana S. ’25 said that her week shadowing Dr. Farzeen Firoozi P’27, P’29 at the Lenox Hill Hospital Department of Urology in summer 2023 “100% solidified my interest in the medical field. It’s very difficult as a high school student to find medical internships, and it ended up being a transformative experience.”

It was the first time that Firoozi, who specializes in urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, had participated in the internship program. He wasn’t sure at first whether the week-long rotation would be of interest to any students, but — to his surprise — six inquiries quickly came in from students. “They wrote some very compelling emails requesting to take part. I ended up inviting four of the students to work with me — the other two found other placements — and began to build out what the rotations would look like,” he says. 

Taking into account the specific interests of each student, the delicate nature of his work, and the invaluable opportunity to see the medical field firsthand, Firoozi developed a plan to have the students shadow him in the office as he took patient histories and diagnosed issues, see treatments and post-operative follow up, and spend a full day in the operating room watching different forms of procedures including laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. 

“Having never done this before with high school students, my only concern as I developed the shadowing plan was whether they would have the maturity needed to understand the sensitive nature of a medical office,” he says. “However, there was never an issue with any of the four interns. They carried themselves with total respect for the patients who were generous enough to allow the students to observe.” He goes on to say that the other doctors in the office and operating rooms were always shocked to learn that they were high schoolers, not college students, underscoring how the interns rose to the challenge that the opportunity presented.

Across town at the Lucy Moses School’s Summer Musical Theater Workshop, Alkis K. ’25 was learning similar lessons — in a very different environment. Inspired by his passion for music and theatre, he was drawn to the internship as a way to make friends, have fun, and do something he genuinely enjoyed. “I was a counselor for a group of 6 and 7 year olds,” he says, “and in the beginning, it was very challenging! I had to learn how to manage the major responsibility I’d been given to take care of these young children. Very quickly, I learned how to be mature, composed, and able to keep things under control as I worked in tandem with the program’s teachers.”

Alkis, far left, performing with his fellow counselors

It was Alkis’s first job and one that took him outside of his comfort zone, but he said that from the very beginning, the Assistant Director of the workshop, Amy Sulds ’97, made him feel welcome. “We’ve had counselors and interns over the years, but last year was the first time I posted the opportunity in Fieldston’s internship initiative,” she says. “Having the Fieldston interns come in was a breath of fresh air! I wasn’t sure how someone brand new to the program would feel, but Alkis immediately displayed the qualities that make me think of a Fieldston student — flexibility, a willingness to jump in, and a commitment to collaboration.” 

As the weeks went on, Alkis grew into the role of counselor. “I think of myself as a shy person, but over the summer I became much more comfortable and confident. I learned how to balance and work through the type of positive chaos that comes with putting on a musical theatre production — a skill that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life,” he remarks. 

Personal growth and broadening awareness are part of every internship opportunity, no matter the job. For Alex W. ’24, her experience interning at media agency Talon Outdoor typified the sort of office environment she’ll seek out in the future. “I was expecting a really scary place with people barking orders at me, but everyone around me was so kind. It was just really great to be in that positive environment where people were always trying to help each other,” she says. 

With the support of her supervisor Emma Rose, Marketing Manager at Talon, Alex spent her summer exploring the world of marketing — and excelling at it. “We typically have college interns so I wasn’t sure what to expect from someone in high school, but I was totally impressed by how smart Alex was throughout her internship and how she asked such thoughtful questions,” Rose shares. “Marketing was new to her, but she had a total willingness to learn — she was a sponge for information.”

Alex’s enthusiasm carried through her work building slideshows for company presentations, gathering content for monthly newsletters, working with the rest of the marketing team to craft social media messages, and learning about how companies research leads for new business. Having that hands-on experience allowed her to see what an ad agency does day-to-day and, she says, helped make abstract ideas concrete as she considered her future. 

One of Alex’s favorite experiences was visiting Times Square with a photographer to capture the launch of an ad campaign

Not everyone had a brand new environment to acclimate to — like the group of interns who spent their summer working in the Advancement Office at ECFS. Mirembe M. ’24, Arshie-Amelie Chaudry ’23, and Jibriel (Gabi) A. Ghazali ’22 got an inside view into the work that goes into connecting with alumni, running end-of-year fundraising campaigns, and more. For Gabi, one experience stands out: the annual Phone-a-Thon, when phone calls are made to encourage donations before the end of the fiscal year. “At first I was a bit nervous, but as I continued calling more and more people I grew into it,” he says. “That day I found a new level of confidence within myself that I had never felt before.”

“We want the initiative to be a resource to students and recent graduates,” Servidio says, “by giving them the chance to experience real-world work scenarios. Each and every parent/guardian, alumni, and friend of the School who invites a student to intern with them is helping provide a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for these high schoolers.” 

Even months later, Ariana emphasizes how impactful having access to the internship was for her. “On my first day, I remember thinking, ‘wow, I’m putting on scrubs, stepping inside an operating room, and ultimately taking my first step toward a lifelong path in the medical field.’ It was incredible.”

Do you have a summer job or internship opportunity to offer to ECFS’s students and recent graduates? Reach out to [email protected] to learn more about how you can participate in the program.