Syracuse college students get taste of workaday world through Synergy internships at Upstate, other employers
“I‘m putting together a list of books that will increase the diversity of offerings at the Family Resource Center,” explains Muno Nuur, a summer intern at the Upstate Golisano Children‘s Hospital.
Nuur is one of 19 college students working at Upstate Medical University this summer, thanks to Synergy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youth and underserved individuals to reach their highest potential and improve the community. Nuur‘s task — developing a new library collection that appeals to a diverse pediatric patient population — typifies work done by Synergy interns. They tackle projects that they have a special interest in and perform entry-level duties, freeing staff for other work. In Nuur‘s case, she is handling library checkouts and returns, staffing the front desk and creating craft materials. A biology major at Le Moyne College, Nuur is interested in attending medical school. The best part of her summer internship, she says, “is interacting with the kids.”
Vivian Gousby, an intern at Upstate‘s Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center, also works with pediatric patients. The center provides treatment for children, up to age 7, who have developmental disabilities or are at risk. The center is jointly operated by Upstate and the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
As an intern, Gousby assists the occupational and physical therapists, plays with children, helps create activities for them and files paperwork. “I help the kids with arts and crafts. Many are at risk for autism spectrum disorders, so we work with them on developing play skills, social and emotional skills and feeding skills,” explains Gousby. “Interacting with the children and hosting party days for them are my all-time favorite parts of this internship.”
A sophomore at Le Moyne College, Gousby‘s goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.
Now in its 10th year, Synergy partners with 12 area businesses or organizations. In addition to Upstate, Synergy partners with On Point for College, Wegmans Food Markets, Onondaga Community College, KeyBank, CNY Works and National Grid. Synergy interns are placed in their respective work environments to gain shadowing experience, have opportunities to network and develop mentors. At Upstate, interns are working in departments including marketing and university communications, family medicine, spiritual care, environmental services, employee/student health and emergency medicine as well as the College of Health Professions.
Over the 10 weeks of the internship, students are at their work-sites four days a week and return to Synergy's Vision Center on Fridays for training days. These "Power Fridays," as they are called, consist of motivational speakers, mentor meetings and group project discussion. The paid summer internship provides students with community service opportunities and classes about financial literacy, health and well-being. The goal of Synergy is to nurture the workforce of the next generation.
Since I‘m an intern, I thought you‘d like my perspective, too: It‘s interesting working in marketing and university communications at Upstate. I‘ve assisted in writing a press release, collected data for the College of Nursing and sat in on interviews with doctors. I've helped with data compilation for HealthLink seminars. I‘ve learned about different writing styles and am learning to write blogs, like this one. I'm looking forward to shadowing an occupational therapist. I‘m a senior at SUNY College at Brockport, majoring in health science. After graduation, I plan on furthering my education in occupational therapy or nursing.
To be eligible for the Synergy program, students must be from the city of Syracuse, attend a two- or four-year college, have a GPA of at least 2.8, and possess a positive attitude. More than 100 college students applied for Synergy‘s summer internship program, and 50 were selected.