Summer Internship: High School Students
The Central Park Conservancy High School Summer Internship provides 25 high school students with paid full-time positions for 7 weeks in July and 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.
All interns work 5-days a week: 4 days at their individual position and Fridays together as a group. On Fridays, interns are introduced to the broader green careers field via field trips to other park and environmental organizations. The internship includes reflective writing assignments and public speaking.
All interns will be provided with 5 uniform shirts, a hat, and rain gear (if appropriate). Interns must wear solid-colored, long pants (preferably khaki-colored) and appropriate footwear (boots for horticulture). Selected applicants will be interviewed in May with final hiring decisions made by the end of May.
The Central Park Conservancy High School Summer Internship Program is very competitive. We receive more applications than positions available. Previous experience with Central Park Conservancy programs, including internships or ROOTS, does not guarantee admittance into the current year's program. All applications are reviewed at face value and applicants are chosen on the merit of their application and match for positions available.
The internship is 7 weeks, July 2 – August 17. Mandatory orientation for all interns will take place on July 2 & 3.
Interns are paid biweekly at a competitive hourly rate of $13/hour.
High school interns are eligible for a 403(b) Retirement Plan and Short Term Disability.
Applicants must be at least 16 years old before July 1 to be considered. To be hired, students must have a social security number, appropriate photo ID verifying employment eligibility, and working papers (if under 18).
Application deadline: April 30.
Horticulture Intern (20 positions)
Visitor Services Intern (5 positions)
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 relation to the importance of urban park stewardship.
A few months prior to the start of my internship at the Central Park Conservancy, I made the hasty decision to walk the entire length of the Park alone in the middle of the winter. I saw a certain symbolism in braving the icy cold of that day to take a leisurely walk from 59th to 110th Street. From that day I cherish my vivid memories of the morning dew on the 7th Avenue lawns soaking my sneakers, memories of the last bits of sunshine illuminating the cliffs at the North Woods, and of hurried scrambles to the summits of the park’s iconic boulders. The impossibility of experiencing everything the park has to offer in a single day only motivated me to do the same thing the next week, with my friend, for the allure of sharing the discovery of the untainted and raw natural beauty of Central Park. In those moments I thought to myself how proud I was to be a New Yorker (from Jersey City), how fortunate I was to live in proximity to the greatest city park in the world and to experience the incredibly thorough work of those at the Central Park Conservancy in preserving and restoring the Park’s natural beauty.
Park stewardship, to me, has two core components: the stewardship Central Park provides to the public, and the stewardship that the public provides for the park. The exact definition of stewardship according to the Oxford English Dictionary is the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property. First, individuals must provide stewardship to the park; that is, people must take care of the park in order for the park to take care of those who use it. The countless hours I spent simply enjoying what Central Park has to offer did not give me any understanding of what it meant exactly to “take care of” a park. After participating in the Central Park Conservancy High School Internship, I now understand that it takes a particular breed of bravery and resilience to care for the park day in and day out, to contend with whatever mysteries of litter and destruction lie within the park after a major holiday, to get down on all fours in the rat-trodden dirt to weed low lying plants. Without the fearless and dedicated work of those at the Central Park Conservancy, the immense benefit and stewardship the Park provides to the public would prove impossible. Likewise, the public gives back and provides stewardship to the Park in supporting the Central Park Conservancy through direct donations, attendance at the Park’s various events, or simply respecting the rules of the Park when visiting. In this manner, the Park and the public that enjoys it exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship. The Conservancy cares for the Park so that the people may benefit from its tranquility and preserved nature, and the people care for the Park when visiting and support the Conservancy to ensure its legacy. The stewardship this relationship demonstrates thus inspires me both as a regular visitor of the Park and as a dedicated guardian of the natural world. In the future, I hope to maintain an active role in the preservation of Central Park and support other public city parks as well, whether through direct financial contributions or a working role. My greatest hope for the future of the Park is that the stewardship and tranquility the Park embodies will be preserved for years to come.
“What are you doing this summer?” my friends asked me this past spring. They probably expected me to answer that I’d be working as a camp counselor like the rest of them would be. So when I told them that I’d be working at Central Park, their faces reflected their surprise.
“Oh, I like to go there sometimes,” one friend says. “What will you be doing?” I smile, excited about my job.
“I’m going to be a horticulture intern. I’ll be taking care of the plants and keeping the area clean. So I’ll be doing things like weeding, watering plants, and picking up garbage.”
My friends seemed surprised that I was so excited to pick up garbage. They were even more surprised to find out that I’d be waking up at five in the morning to get to Central Park every day. Probably they thought I wouldn’t enjoy the internship very much. After all, who really wants to wake up early just to pick up garbage and pull weeds?
Well, I’m one of the people who does want to wake up early for those tasks. So is my mentor. So are a whole bunch of other park employees, interns, and volunteers. We understand the value of these stewardship tasks and find them rewarding. Picking up garbage feels so worthwhile when you see how much better the area looks afterwards and realize that you’re allowing millions of people to have more enjoyable experiences in the park. Weeding feels so good when you know that you’re allowing beautiful plants and trees to flourish and enhance the park’s beauty. Giving directions to the nearest amenity, attraction, or destination feels so gratifying when you understand that you’re leading people to their next adventure.
Some of the biggest hurdles for park employees are patrons who lack respect for the park. When patrons litter, graffiti, and otherwise don’t follow park rules, employees often have to spend excessive amounts of time picking up trash, righting toppled plants, or dealing with the graffiti. Yet, one of the biggest rewards of working in the park is discovering how many patrons have that respect. When patrons respect the rules and the park, patrons and stewards alike benefit. I love interacting with volunteers who dedicate so much time to bettering the park, smiling no matter what task they are performing. Vendors who clean up after themselves and their customers and say good morning are a pleasure to talk to. When patrons notice how beautiful the park looks and comment on it to park employees, thanking us for our hard work, we know it is all worthwhile.
I am proud to have spent my summer waking up at five in the morning every day in order to pick up trash and perform horticultural tasks. My personal respect and appreciation for the park, as well as my knowledge of the people, places, and plants within it have grown tremendously. I am so happy to be able to identify mugwort, greet performers in the park by name, and successfully set up sprinklers. All of these small things add up to the significance of my time spent in Central Park. I have learned to love taking care of the park and understand how my hard work has paid off. Now, after hearing about my experiences, my friends are no longer shocked at my decision to work in Central Park. Instead, they constantly want to hear more about the amazing, diverse, and beautiful park and how I have been able to contribute to its wonder.
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.