Summer Internship: College Students
The Central Park Conservancy College Summer Internship program provides 20 college students with paid full-time positions for 10 weeks from June to August. Participants receive the opportunity to contribute directly to the care and restoration of Central Park. Working side-by-side with Conservancy staff, interns learn about the complexity of managing an iconic and historic urban park that receives over 42 million visits a year. Additionally, interns will attend lectures, workshops and practicums with experts in the field to better synthesize and apply what they learn. College interns support several areas of the Conservancy’s work, including: Public Programs, GIS & Asset Management, Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Tree Care, and Woodlands Management.
Housing and transportation are the responsibility of each individual intern. Interns will receive a uniform consisting of 4 shirts, 1 hat, and 1 set of rain-gear. Interns will bring / supply their own trousers (no jeans or shorts allowed) and work-boots (boots are not required for data or education positions).
The internship is 10 weeks, June 4 – August 9.
All interns work 4 days a week (specific days and times vary depending on position).
Interns are paid biweekly at a competitive hourly rate of $15/hour.
College interns are eligible for a 403(b) Retirement Plan and Short Term Disability.
Must be enrolled or recently graduated as an undergraduate or graduate student to be considered.
The application period for the 2018 College Summer Internship is now closed. The application period will be open again in 2019.
See what our former summer interns are saying about their experiences in these submissions to our essay contest, From the Next Generation of Park Stewards. We asked each of our interns to think deeply about their experience in Central Park and how it has further informed their perception of urban parks and their connection to urban livability and sustainability. Hear from our 2018 winners:
Interning with the Central Park Conservancy these last two months has been one of the best experiences of my life. After attending the University of Georgia to study Landscape Architecture, I knew that I wanted to work with public spaces, whether it be in a design role or in an operations capacity. Working with Film/Special Events and Community Relations was a valuable learning experience in how urban spaces are used for a variety of purposes. Specifically, I learned how the interests of unique groups of users must be balanced with the needs of New York City citizens and tourists.
Public parks provide indispensable services to cities that help make urban centers like New York City environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Central Park’s various landscapes and planting materials provide habitat for many forms of wildlife within the Park, creating a diverse ecosystem within the urban center of Manhattan. Dene Slope creates a space where pollinators feed on the nectar and pollen of the native wildflowers. Spaces like the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, the Ramble, and the North Woods create areas where birds come during migration or to establish permanent homes. In addition to the wildlife benefits, the Park also reduces storm water, increases air quality, and lowers temperatures.
Central Park also helps create social sustainability for the citizens of New York City. The Park is free for all to come to, and it has many activities for all types of people. Dotting the edges of the Park are 21 playgrounds spanning from the north end to the south, on the eastside and the west. This gives families from the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Harlem, and Midtown walkable options for areas to bring their children. Working with the special events staff, I was able to see the impact that large events have on both the Park and the public. Free concerts like the Harlem Meer Performance Festival attract a diverse group of people. Young and old, men and women, and people of all races and ethnicities come together to listen to free concerts every Sunday outside the Dana Center, each week enjoying a different genre such as salsa, blues, jazz, or country.
The economic benefits that Central Park has on New York City are substantial. In 2014, a report by the Central Park Conservancy found that the Park’s impact on creating full-time jobs and tourism contributed $420.8 million in citywide economic output. It also added more than $26 billion to the market value of properties on the blocks adjoining the Park. From my personal experience, I have seen expressive matters venders selling paintings on the Mall, pedicabs and horse carriages bringing people to Bethesda Terrace and Strawberry Fields, and hundreds of tourists asking for the nearest place to get some food. All of these groups help maintain the economy of New York City, whether it be spending inside the Park or throughout the City.
Working with the Central Park Conservancy has confirmed what I thought while attending school: I want to work with parks. Whether this means working through a non-profit conservancy or government agency, helping public parks stay well maintained and properly managed has grown from an interest into a passion, and I can only hope to maintain other urban parks to the standard that I have learned here. My mentors have taken time to show me the benefits of working for a park, the difficulties that can arise, and their own passions for the Park, all of which have strengthened my belief that I am following an outstanding career goal.
It was my first day at the [79th St.] Yard. I had barely found it after a short detour mistakenly – and dangerously if I might add - walking along the narrow sidewalk of the 79th Street transverse before realizing I might want to turn around and walk directly into the Park. I had just met my mentor, Yanina Kupava, in person, and after introducing me to more people than I had the ability to instantaneously remember, she took me on a brief crash-course tour of the Park to lightly familiarize me with it before starting data collection, the focus of my internship.
Not even five minutes into the golf cart ride, “Stop, stop!” A man, presumably a local but donning an Australian accent, flagged us down. We were informed that a raccoon had fallen out of a tree and we went to go check on it. “Stop, stop!” Another patron halted us, this time an older woman wearing a light pink jacket – this was early in summer. We heard the same story and continued toward the raccoon.
What I would come to get a grasp of during my internship and continually be impressed by, was just how much the people of New York loved their Park, Central Park. I discovered over the course of the summer how essential to, and a part of the beat of New York City, Central Park is. Urban Parks, like Central Park, are not urban simply because they reside in a city; they are urban because they are built like the city; with just as much of a man-made and purposeful design as the buildings, buses, trains, or other feats of infrastructure that line the public streets. In this way, my perception of urban parks has changed. I no longer view urban parks as an escape from the city infrastructure, but rather the extension of an urban landscape which speaks to and satisfies our collective desire and need to engage with nature, spread out, enjoy recreation, and breathe freely. It is in this quality that urban parks define a city’s livability. The open space coupled with the rugged and industrial terrain of the city provides a natural yin and yang balance that buffers each other and makes the city a welcoming place where people will want to live their lives.
Having also imprinted upon me an effect equally indelible to my new understanding of urban parks granted to me by my time at the Conservancy, is also the new, radically different way in which I now think of sustainability. More than environmental suitability, if a park is to uphold its stature as the urban landscape’s natural component, then it is necessary for the park to itself be founded on a firm financial footing to ensure future long-term sustainability. My time at the Conservancy has exposed me to innovative and sometimes even unconventional and varied models of fundraising, such as the Conservancy’s well-known public-private partnership, in addition to specific fundraising efforts from private donors, foundations, and private citizens. Coupled by the Conservancy’s systematic delegation of vendor and concession responsibilities to the appropriate agencies, it can all work in tandem to yield what is a world class park.
As I continue to grow in my parks career and gain an increasingly larger role in the creation and maintenance of city parks, the lessons I’ve learned at the Central Park Conservancy this summer – to envision urban parks as the green facet of your city’s urban ecosystem along with the instruction to be open to innovative models that bring outside resource into the parks – will form the foundation of my future approach to urban parks and serve as my strongest takeaways from this internship. I am grateful to the Conservancy for these insights and will be certain not to let them go to waste as I am dedicated to putting what I’ve learned to good use in my stewardship and involvement in public parks moving forward in my career.
Youth Education and Service Programs are supported in part by The Barker Welfare Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Epstein Teicher Philanthropies; Abraham Perlman Foundation; The Pinkerton Foundation; and William E. Weiss Foundation, Inc./Daryl Brown Uber.