Intern-to-Intern Program Pairs At-Risk High School Students with College Students from UB

Release Date: April 27, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As a high school senior, Tim Sullivan disliked school, and the thought of going on to college was the farthest thing from his mind. That's before he participated in the Intern-to-Intern Program -- a joint effort between Buffalo's Alternative High School and the University at Buffalo School of Management that pairs at-risk high school students with UB business students.

In its second year of operation, the Intern-to-Intern Program is designed to motivate high school juniors and seniors who attend the Alternative High School's City-As-School (CAS) program to set their sights higher and explore new career opportunities, says Sharon Benz, a resource coordinator with the Buffalo Public Schools.

Tim Sullivan, Benz says, is a shining example of how the program can change a student's life. After interning at the Buffalo Marketing Group in Williamsville with UB MBA student Randy Frayne last year, Sullivan began taking classes at Erie Community College and has since been accepted into Alfred University's entrepreneurship program.

"When these kids are doing well in society, they do better in the classroom," Benz explains. "They feel like they're part of the world."

The School of Management offers hundreds of internships each year, but only the Intern-to-Intern Program gives management students the chance to work with high schoolers.

"In the Intern-to-Intern Program, students do more than complete business projects -- they become role models," says Lyn McDonald, assistant director of the School of Management's Internship Program. "In some cases, they've helped turn a young life around."

"It is a great feeling to know that you had a positive influence on someone," Frayne agrees. "The ironic thing was that I learned just as much from Tim as he did from me."

The program also gives UB business students a chance to practice real-world management skills as they mentor their high school partners. "It adds a whole new dimension to their business-school degree," McDonald explains. "They learn to deal with the realism of team commitment, not only in a business setting but as part of a community-service effort."

At the three companies currently acting as placement sites for the Intern-to-Intern Program, both high school and UB interns are brought into the loop from day one, explains Benz. At the Buffalo Marketing Group, one of the interns' key projects was to update the CAS brochure. Sullivan and Frayne were included in all aspects of project management, including brainstorming sessions with the staff. At Praxair, interns work on a variety of human-resources projects, including recruitment, manager training, research, program coordination and performance management. "It's a great way for these students to make contacts," Benz says.

Another participating Intern-to-Intern organization is the University Community Initiative (UCI), a collaborative partnership led by UB, the City of Buffalo and the towns of Amherst, Tonawanda and Cheektowaga to stabilize, rebuild and revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding the South Campus. This year's internship project focuses on assisting with database development at local police departments. CAS student Robert Pearson, who hopes someday to be a police officer, is interning at UCI with UB MBA student Chiew Liang Yap. "Chiew Liang has become a role model for Robert -- he's introduced him to the Internet and together they're developing the UCI Web site," says McDonald. "At the same time, because of this internship, Robert is gaining a new awareness of the value of education."

CAS students must intern at least 15 hours on site at their placement each week, for a total of 96 hours for the year. They also are required to complete a comprehensive written project, based on their internship, and attend weekly seminars at D'Youville College, CAS' home base.

UB MBA students must complete a 150-hour internship as part of their degree requirements.

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