Greetings from hot and humid New York City! While the Barnard campus may not be buzzing with its usual hustle and bustle, Barnard women are certainly keeping themselves busy this summer. Many of my friends have steady internships and research positions in various US cities, and some are even studying abroad in Europe.
What am I doing during my summer, you may ask? I have the privilege of interning at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation where I’m the Commissioner’s Office Intern (for all my fellow Parks and Recreation fans out there, unfortunately Leslie Knope is not my boss). If there’s one place I’ve always dreamed of working, it’s the NYC Parks Department. This is the perfect internship for me because it ties together my Environmental Science major with my love for urban community building and the NYC parks.
As members of the Commissioner’s Office team, my co-workers and I see anything and everything that goes on in the parks on a daily basis. We work on correspondence. This means that any and all questions, comments, compliments, or complaints about every NYC park come through our office. Surprisingly, I see a lot of people write in about city trees they want planted or groomed. People will also inquire about a specific event that may be happening at a specific NYC park. My job is to read the inquiries and direct them to the right division within the Department. I’ve only been interning for a month, but I can already tell you about how to request a tree in front of your property or the general parks rules and regulations.
The Barnard Career Development (BCD) office was so instrumental in helping me get this internship. When I first started my internship search, I made an appointment with a Career Counselor. I ended up going back to the same counselor once (or twice) a week for the rest of the semester until I secured the position. She was so awesome in helping me craft cover letters, perfect the wording on my resume, and prepare me for interviews. I now have someone in BCD who I’ll go back to during the next two years for help with more internship and job searches, which is such an amazing part of the Barnard experience!
My time at Barnard leading up to this internship has helped me feel like I’m contributing something to the Parks team. Even though I’m not using my knowledge of geology or the Hudson River directly in my everyday work, this job has given me tools to think on my feet and use effective judgement. We have a lot of inquiries to get through on a daily basis, so it’s important that the team works efficiently to make sure the NYC residents get the answers they need. There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning, but was to be expected as the newbie!
This internship has also showed me how Barnard has prepared me to be respectfully assertive and to be comfortable speaking up if I need help. I am so lucky to work with very important and accomplished people, and part of learning from them includes constantly asking questions. Barnard has given me those tools and the confidence to utilize them.
I’m really excited to return to Barnard in the fall with these new workplace skills. Although I won’t be fielding questions or comments anymore, my experience has already made me more passionate about Environmental Science and building a sustainable urban community. Also, working so closely with a team will definitely help me build even stronger relationships with my professors and classmates. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store!
If you have any more questions about my internship, how Barnard prepared me for my internship, or just interning in the city in general, feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com!
Hannah Spierer ’17