If you’ve been in Central Park recently, chances are you’ve interacted with some of the Conservancy’s many summer interns — 44 of us, to be exact, working across 18 different departments ranging from horticulture to human resources.
All summer internships with the Conservancy are paid, full-time positions running for 10 weeks. As interns, not only do we assist our supervisors and work on independent projects, but we also come together as an intern class for career panels, picnics, and more.
You may have spotted a field intern weeding an invasive species near Gapstow Bridge or preparing the North Meadow Ballfields for an afternoon practice. Maybe they accompanied you on a tour, helped you paint a bench, or gave you directions. Or maybe you saw me in the Park, chatting with you and taking your picture — as a Content Intern, that’s a big part of my job! Our responsibilities as interns are varied, but we’re all passionate about the work of the Conservancy and excited to pitch in however we can during the Park’s busiest season.
And with summer winding to a close, I spoke to a few of my fellow interns about their experiences so far. Through these interviews, it occurred to me that despite our vastly different responsibilities, we learned more collectively than apart this summer. Themes emerged in our gratitude: for the sheer amount of labor that goes into keeping Central Park beautiful and accessible for all people; for the excitement and dynamism of working with an all-hands-on-deck team in a unique urban environment; and, most resoundingly, for the mentors, supervisors, volunteers, and fellow interns that we worked alongside every day. Indeed, for me, it was the people who made this internship special, and it is the people who will stay with me, and with all of us, as we venture cautiously into adulthood.
What does your average day look like at the Conservancy?
Anna Molera, Horticulture Intern: We start around 7:00 a.m., so we get a good start on the day. From there, we team up with our mentors and get a general brief of the day. Then, we do a couple of hours of trash and clean up. You get to learn a lot, not just from a horticulture ecology standpoint, but also how a city runs and how everyone plays a part — from the visitors to the workers to the tourists. You get to see how that all plays together.
Orlando Santiago, Visitor Services Intern: My day is mostly comprised of setting up board games and giving people maps and directions, sort of enriching the visitor experience such that no matter what they’re here for, even if they’re just here to pick up a map, that they have a good experience in the Park and it’s something they can remember. I would recommend working with the Conservancy to those who want something a little bit different for their summer. It’s very refreshing to be out in the Park every day and to be working with so many different types of people.
Lindsay Ruotolo, Planning, Design, and Construction Intern: My average day at the Conservancy involves meeting with the team to talk about what I’m going to be working on that day, working on drawing sets, attending meetings, learning about future plans and projects that are underway, and talking with people in the office and learning from them constantly. I want to be a construction manager and landscape architect, so it’s amazing to set goals for what I want to achieve and see new opportunities and directions that my schooling can take me in.
What drew you to the Conservancy?
Delano Dawes, Visitor Services Intern: I was first drawn here by proximity to my college. And this internship deals with my major, which is advertising and marketing; right now, I’m in retail, which is perfect for me. Having social interactions with customers from around the world is a great experience. It’s a very friendly environment here.
Hannah Cho, Horticulture Intern: This internship seemed like a unique opportunity to learn about urban park gardening and see what sorts of priorities and needs that a park in this setting would require. This is a really great place to work if you’re interested in working outside, learning about the native plants and invasive species of the Park, you’re interested in learning how the Park is run and how it’s managed, and you want to do a lot of hands-on work in a really unique and urban setting.
Sarah Chang, Visitor Services Intern: I was really into the idea of working inside the Park instead of just being in an office building. The normal idea of being an intern as a freshman is it’s unpaid and you’re doing whatever your boss needs to be done, so I liked the idea of actually doing stuff in the Park. I think my favorite part is probably working with little kids who want to fish at the Harlem Meer.
What would you say about this internship to someone interested in pursuing it?
Laura McKinney, President’s Office Intern: The best part about the Conservancy is that it’s let me dabble in a little bit of everything. The staff has been so supportive and has allowed me to spread my wings and discover different parts of myself that I didn’t even know I had or even know that I wanted to do. There's nothing better than working for a place that you truly believe in, and Central Park has been one of my favorite places on the planet for years.
Amber Guevara, Volunteer Services Intern: This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’s never going to be anything else like this. So, you should do it. Take the chance. It’s totally worth it. The people who you meet here — you probably would never meet anywhere else. There’s something about the Park that draws people who are passionate, and that’s something that you don't experience everywhere.
Regina Fink, Volunteer Field Programs Intern: I went to high school here in Manhattan, so I walked through the Park every day. And now I know how the Park works a lot differently — things you would not expect. There’s so much work that goes into the Park. It’s bonkers! If you want to learn about lots of plants and work with a lot of cool people, this is a great internship for you.