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Students Excel at Internships

Now in its second year, the SJR internship program is providing seniors with an opportunity to experience life in the business world. And if there is one thing the interns have noted, it is that Microsoft Excel is the tool of choice for many area businesses. While a dozen seniors will eventually complete internships, several who have already begun have all discovered that having a facility for Excel is an extremely valuable skill.


Nathan Tombo has been interning with Kesef Accounting Services, a Montvale-based firm that provides a full range of accounting services to more than 50 synagogues around the country (New England, California, Texas).   


“I do different things at different times,” reports Tombo. “I just completed a block of work reviewing the activity of businesses to identify situations where they would issue 1099 MISC tax forms. Right now, I am completing an analysis of accounts payable and processed checks for the current fiscal year. Being able to analyze and create spreadsheets is a must.”


Mr. John Grippo and Mr. David Beyth, Kesef’s Principals, agreed to participate in the high school internship program, needing a student who was “self-directed” and could work independently.    


“Our interns need to focus on doing the job well, rather than punching in a set number of hours,” Beyth explained. “Nathan is punctual, responsible and takes initiative. He is not afraid to ask questions, which is a really important part of the process.”


And from the company’s perspective, there are two benefits.


“I like that we are able to give back to an individual who is thinking about going into the accounting profession,” said Grippo. “Hopefully, Nathan will get the experience, not just of specific tasks, but of the context that each task has in the larger process. But there is a real benefit to us as well. The project Nathan did on the 1099s is something we would have had to do after hours, or hire someone to do. So the program provides a real benefit to both the intern and the mentor.”


About a half mile south on Chestnut Ridge Road, Colin Medwick and Conor McCabe are interning at Eagil Financial Services. Eagil is a national financial services platform that provides its marketing, insurance and business development expertise.


Eagil’s CEO Mr. Guy Runyon (father of Max '20) says that, first and foremost, his firm was looking for interns who “had the right attitude and were self-starters with a real desire to work to the best of their ability. We, in turn, provide them with the opportunity to do college-level work through this program.”


Much of what McCabe and Medwick do daily involves prospect research via the internet.


“They basically start the engine,” says Runyon. “They do real market research to identify prospective clients for the company and its financial planners. It’s like mining for gold.”


“It has been a great opportunity,” said Medwick. “The scale of what we’re doing is incredible. You have to be detail-oriented, or else you can lose a potentially valuable customer.”


Eventually, Medwick hopes to learn others aspects as well: “I would enjoy the marketing side, the creative end of things.”


McCabe added, “Except for the emphasis on using Excel, most of what we do here, we just couldn’t have learned in the classroom.”


Another intern, Nick Tauken, is at Multiphase Electronics in Closter, a company owned by electrical engineer Dan Kelly ’87.


Tauken works with Autocad, a computer-aided drafting program, that enables him to assist engineers with the creation of designs for commercial projects.


“After providing basic training, we’ve given Nick projects to work on. We have four engineers here; all of them are available to give guidance,” says Kelly. Among Nick’s current projects, he is working on is a nine-story office building in Jersey City, whose construction is supervised by Chris Adelung ’92.


“Aside from the technical knowledge, the best part has been getting real work experience,” says Tauken.  “I’ve also learned a lot about team-work.  You don’t just sit at a desk in the office.  There’s a lot of interaction with other people in the firm.”


“I believe people learn best by doing,” says Kelly, “trying things for themselves while getting assistance and direction from others. That’s the lesson I hope this internship can provide.”


Tauken, who is a varsity hockey player and a member of the SJR band, appreciates the flexibility Multiphase Electronics has provided him.


Kelly agreed: “I don’t assign work by the hour, but by the job. Nick’s done a great job making sure that he gets everything done, while juggling his schedule and school work.”


SJR’s internship program is part of a larger initiative, directed by Mrs. Jennifer Errity and Mrs. Laura McSpirit Grier, for the Pascack Hills Regional High School District.


“The program provides a real benefit both to students and the companies that mentor them,” said Mrs. Errity. “All of our SJR interns have represented themselves and their school well.”


Several other seniors are currently involved in internships locally, including Joseph Tandurella (Community Blood Services), Mike Miszkiewicz (Hudson Fiber), Nicholas Fugnitti (Northeast Orthopedics), Christopher Ruppert (Mercedes) and Joseph Lorenzo (Allermates). Still others are starting their internship experiences during the second semester.