2008-06-13 / Top Stories

Bloomberg Announces Student Summer Internships

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced the launch of the PENCIL Fellows summer internship program, a new partnership between the Department of Education's Virtual Enterprises program and PENCIL, a community based organization that establishes partnerships between business leaders and New York City public schools. The PENCIL Fellows program offers a curriculum centered on simulated businesses that are created and run by high school students. PENCIL Fellows are a select group of highachieving Virtual Enterprises students who bring the skills they have learned in the virtual business world to the real workplace. Generously funded by Meringoff Properties, Inc. and the New York State Department of Labor, the PENCIL Fellows Program is a full-time, six-week internship offered during July and August, which provides motivated, careerminded New York City high school juniors and seniors with dynamic experiential learning experiences.

"The best way to learn is by being on the job, and the PENCIL Fellows Program will give 200 high school junior and seniors the chance to do just that this summer," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This is yet another public-private partnership that embodies our commitment to providing a quality education that extends beyond the classroom, and I encourage the business community to offer internship opportunities which expose students to career possibilities."

"This is a great opportunity for our students to get real-world job experience and learn about careers they may want to pursue," said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. "I also encourage the business community to tap the young talent in the New York City public school system - the very people who will one day help their companies continue to grow and prosper."

The PENCIL Fellows Program offers area businesses a unique opportunity to hire and mentor New York City public high school students who go through a rigorous screening and selection process. PENCIL and Virtual Enterprises provide ongoing support to students and business partners over the course of the internship through workshops, workplace visits, and supervisory assistance. Students gain new skills, perspectives, and a context for their education while developing a sense of responsibility, job readiness training, and self-confidence.

"The Department of Labor firmly believes in giving youth a strong foundation upon which they can build their future careers. Internship opportunities like the PENCIL Fellows Program are a crucial part of that foundation," said State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith. "Working with our partners across New York City, we will help youth gain real-life work experience and put them one step further on the path of the world of work."

There is consensus among educators that by offering a context for the application of academics, internships contribute to overall student achievement and to increased high school graduation rates. In turn, higher graduation rates lead to increased quality of life and increased earning potential. The PENCIL Fellows Program recognizes that young people need to put into practice specific skills that would prepare them for the larger demands of the workplace. PENCIL Fellows will be able to apply classroom learning to real-life work situations, hone written and oral communication skills, finetune strengths, interests and aptitudes, become acclimated to the professional workplace, and be able to expand their knowledge base of potential careers.

"Since our founding in 1995, PENCIL has successfully mobilized thousands of business leaders to create and support long-term, results-driven partnerships with the city's public schools that help to bolster the education our students are already receiving," said PENCIL President Michael Haberman. "The PENCIL Fellows Program is a natural extension of these partnerships and will place students in business settings where they can apply the practical knowledge acquired in the classroom. We are grateful for the support of the Meringoff Family Foundation, the State Department of Labor, Mayor Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Education, and our business partners."

Participating businesses complete Business Mentor Applications, are presented with a selection of candidates whom they interview, and ultimately offer positions to qualified candidates of their choice. The rate of pay is determined by the employer but may not be lower than the minimum wage; PENCIL Fellows are paid directly by the employers. Nonprofit employers may be eligible for a subsidy paid by the New York City Department of Education. PENCIL and Virtual Enterprises continually monitor the Fellows' progress during the internship through worksite visits and individual communication. PENCIL Fellows are required to attend career and college preparatory workshops and must complete written reflective exercises. At the end of the internship, employer site supervisors complete a Student Fellow Evaluation while students complete a self-evaluation.

"I am pleased to be working with PENCIL, the leading public-private partnership supporting New York City Public Schools, to develop a program that provides meaningful summer employment opportunities to some of our city's most promising public high school students," said Meringoff Properties, Inc. President Stephen Meringoff, which provided a threeyear grant to start the PENCIL Fellows Program. "I urge the New York business community to contribute to the development of these talented young adults by offering a summer internship opportunity. As the saying goes, 'Feed a person a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.'"

"We are proud of our partnership with PENCIL that invests in education, career training and work opportunities for students," said JPMorgan Chase Chief Administrative Officer Frank Bisignano. "The PENCIL Fellows program is just another step in this organization's long service to New York public school students. JPMorgan Chase is delighted to host one of the first PENCIL Fellows at our firm, and we encourage other companies to do the same."

"Merrill Lynch is a long-time supporter of PENCIL and enthusiastic participants in its terrific programs," said Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President and Finance Director Christopher Hayward. "We very much look forward to hosting PENCIL Fellows this summer, and know it will be a beneficial experience for the students as well as for Merrill Lynch. We encourage others throughout the business community to participate in this terrific program by welcoming PENCIL Fellows into their organizations this summer."

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