Every summer, JEVS Human Services offers college and high school students the opportunity to participate in two intern programs designed to provide them with real-world experience.
The Franklin C. Ash Internship Program is a seven-week internship available to Jewish college juniors and seniors interested in exploring careers in the nonprofit field. Applicants must have leadership experience and live in the Greater Philadelphia region.
The Ash program selects 15 students and connects them with Jewish nonprofits such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA) and the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center (HAMEC).
Now in its 19th year, Ash makes it possible for students to explore career options that interest them. Students who secure an internship are challenged every step of the way; they are expected to work four days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A paid opportunity that awards $1,800 to participants upon completion, Ash dedicates the fifth day of each week to group-based collaborative activities and educational programs.
“So far, this summer’s activities include a session with Challah for Hunger, a program on pluralism and acceptance by ADL, and a talk by Tribe 12 on how to incorporate Jewish values into career selection,” said Peggy Truitt, a JEVS program director who oversees summer internship programs.
Ash interns also are taught skills that help them better prepare for the future.
“Sometimes, students aren’t aware of the contribution that Jewish organizations make to communities around the world; we aim to give them a broader perspective and set them up for a successful career,” Truitt said. “We make sure that they develop professionally.”
“The internship that the Ash Program placed me in was at MossRehab as a speech pathologist. The opportunity greatly solidified my interest in pursuing speech pathology as my career,” said Robyn Lachow, a former Ash intern now in graduate school. “I had always known that I wanted to go into a profession that helps people, and after observing sessions and interacting with patients who had experienced strokes or brain injuries, I realized I had chosen the right path.”
Each student also is given the opportunity to learn from employees at organizations outside of the one they are working for — this process allows them to envision the career paths that lie ahead and develop a professional network.
“We help students procure contacts within the Jewish community, revise their LinkedIn profiles and resumes and set up mock interviews that help them feel confident when speaking to potential employers,” Truitt said.
Ash students often work with high schoolers who participate in JEVS’ Lasko College Prep Program. Students in that seven-week daily program receive free SAT/ACT test prep and college guidance. Students must be Jewish high school juniors planning to attend a four-year college or university.
The Lasko program is a paid summer internship that offers students scholarship and financial aid counseling. Students are able to go on college tours and participate in mitzvah projects and social activities. In addition to receiving complimentary scholastic instruction, students are placed three days a week at local Jewish nonprofit agencies and encouraged to get involved in the Jewish community.
“The Lasko Program helped all of us realize the significance of a good college education and, more importantly, the work and the dedication that’s required to be accepted into a college and, once there, excel,” said Levi Mulladzhanov, a 2007 Lasko alum who is now a third-year anesthesiology resident with Cooper Health Systems. “The experience helped me solidify my interests rather than find them.”
The relationships formed between Ash and Lasko students are beneficial and have a lasting effect, Pruitt said.
Lasko students learn firsthand about college from Ash students and discover how to become comfortable in a college setting. Ash students are mentors to the younger Lasko students and inspire them to overcome their school-related fears and consider different educational options.
“Our high school and college students are encouraged to keep in touch during their seven-week internships; this summer, we have six joint activities for them to do together that include going to the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center and visiting the National Museum of American Jewish History,” Pruitt said. “We are very good at matching students up based on their individual interests — the students we place together help each other grow and find direction in life.”