Every summer, in the beautiful city of New York, high school students may take one step into the adult world, working as a full-time staff member at the Museum of Jewish Heritage- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. From 9-5, students not only learn about the basis of how a museum works, but as well the fundamentals of learning how to give a tour, communicating with others, and completing a wide variety of beneficial tasks provided to them. This is known as the High School Apprenticeship Program.
Fortunately, I was able to work there this past summer and I have to say that it has been one of the best professional and fun experiences of my life. Not only have I created many new friendships that will stay strong for the long years to come, but I have also learned many important social and job skills as well.
This whole experience all started with a raise of my hand in global class. Apparently, my teacher Mr. Kivanoski every year gives out a few application forms to a couple of students in his classes. That day, he asked who would want one and I turned my head the other way. I was disinterested because after all the work that I had to go through in the past few months, all I wanted to do was relax and enjoy my summer. Suddenly, a girl in front of me raised her hand for one. We usually always compete in everything, whether in grades or test scores so on a whim, I raised my hand as well. On the application form given which can also be found on the website, I had to send my transcript, a teachers recommendation, and a set of answers to questions provided on the application form. Every year, about one hundred kids or more apply to the program and out of these kids, sixty-two are chosen for an interview sessions based on how strong their application profile was. Out of the sixty-two, fifteen students are chosen to be apprentices at the museum. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get in. So I read my answers as carefully as possible and as I put my application in the mailbox, I wished myself good luck. After a few days, those who applied started getting letters to be interviewed and I was the only one who hadn’t. I was sad because I felt as if I failed. Soon enough, the unimaginable happened when a girl from the museum called me days before the interviews started. She asked me why I hadn’t responded and it turned out that my mail was sent to the wrong address. I was ecstatic as I hanged up the phone.
During the interview process, all the students were separated into about three groups according to their borough. In those groups, two smaller groups are split and a staff member interviews each of these groups. The hard part is that since all of us would have to interview together, you would really have to outshine the rest. After that, we each had to pick a quote and write an essay about it to complete the interview process. I got the call that I made it in a couple of days later and I was proud, I was happy that I was accepted.
The High School Apprentice Program starts a few months before the summer. Through nine sessions, it was known as training, which meant that we were preparing for what the summer would bring. In completing the first part of this program, we would then be given the opportunity of having a summer job at the museum as an intern. This meant that we would be able to not only work as a staff member, but learn as a student too. During the training, it was mainly based on finding out more about your heritage and how you can connect it to Jewish Heritage. We also learned how to give museum tours, which was a crucial part of our summer job. The training ends with a graduation, acknowledging our hard work before the summer start.
During the summer, we were interviewed by fifteen departments through the museum and out of them, chose six to work at for the summer. Based on how well we did and our decisions, we were given a syllabus for which ones we would be working at. The summer program was a total of seven weeks, with the first week being orientation. During the next six weeks, each intern would be working at a different department, sometimes in pairs and sometimes by themselves. Rotating each week to a new department, we’d get a feel of how each part of the museum worked. I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that we have learned a lot, from small tasks such as filing to big projects such as advertising a film playing at the museum’s theater
I am really glad that I got into this program and it’s only been my third week. I know that it may be too soon to tell how I really feel, but I love it so far. The view is amazing and everyone at the museum are in general very sweet and kind. In a workplace where asking questions about what you don’t know is the answer and help is the key, I am truly grateful that I got into this program. It’s weird because I have been in this program since March, and it feels like only yesterday when I got in. I love it here and would recommend it to anyone. There doesn’t seem to be one person that doesn’t like this program because I have heard nothing but good things from previous interns at the museum. Many of them still come back to visit as well I to relive the great memories of an amazing summer.