Weekly Updates

List of 7 items.

  • May 8 - Madeline Lefkowitz, The Friendship Circle

    Over the past few months I have been interning at the Friendship Circle, an organization that provides assistance and services to people with special needs and their families.  I have always been involved with this organization as a volunteer attending events and as a sibling of a person with special needs, yet I have gained eye-opening perspective on the behind the scenes process of running a successful and productive organization.
    This organization is truly special and incredible in the work they do, but also in the way they do it.  Everything Friendship Circle does is done with an exceptional amount of respect and care for the people it assists.  Everyone who encounters Friendship Circle and the people who work there knows that it is an organization built on love and respect.  The women and men who run the organization work hard to be able to accept all participants with disabilities and give them meaningful experiences; whether through a program or a job they provide, the Friendship Circle presents opportunities unimaginable to these individuals as recently as 20 years ago.  Yet, the organization does not only provide services on a grand level, but also caters to each individual.  This mentality has built an incredible community of families and volunteers.  Friendship Circle provides these families with services again and again because they are dedicated to improving the organization and growing with the community.  When a member of the community has a challenge in their life - mothers struggling with newborn children, a family pushing to integrate themselves in the special needs community, a person suffering from an illness - the Friendship Circle is always there arranging volunteer babysitters, connecting families, or bringing meals.  The organization maintains a warm, family feel while still acting professionally.  This impressive combination has allowed Friendship Circle to become a staple in our community.
    As an intern, I help prepare for the upcoming event in any way that is needed.  I run errands, do physical tasks, and computer work necessary for these events.  Each event takes a minimum of two weeks’ worth of planning and lasts for only a mere few hours.  To the outsider this seems like an unsatisfying amount of time to work for a short event, yet I have learned that it can be very fulfilling.  I feel a sense of pride in every task I do, no matter how small it may seem, because I know that I am doing positively impacts another person’s life.  Friendship Circle touches the lives of hundreds of families and individuals in my community and I feel as though everything I do contributes to helping not only the organization, but my greater community.  
    Many of us take for granted our accessibility to opportunities such as the opportunity to play on a sports team, pursue a career, or simply speak to a friend on the phone.  Friendship Circle is providing these opportunities to everyone regardless of physical appearance or societal “value”.  At Friendship Circle, each person’s beauty is recognized and celebrated.  I feel honored to have the opportunity to work at this organization for the past couple months.
    This experience has given me the skills and mindset to do great things at my internship, in my life, and, G-d willing, in my future.
  • April 27 - Jake Helfand, Windmill Health Products

    Over the last three months at Windmill Health Products, many of the projects I have taken on required me to do research on a certain product or vitamin and then write an article or two describing the product and its uses. I then created PowerPoints on the products with the articles and a few images. These are called deal sheets.
    Another project I have involves certain databases. The federal government requires that any and all claims made for and by a dietary supplement or food product be listed on a database for anyone to easily find. I have been going through these databases and comparing their information on our products to the products themselves. If any changes have been made to the product labels or to the products themselves, I input the new information on the databases and make sure that the information for all 400 products we sell is correct.
    I handle writing up deal sheets for new product lines and products that are still in production, but I also do whatever needs to be done. There are about 40 employees here and if any of them need anything because they are too busy I will get it done. I sometimes help people with computer issues, I organize documents and will get supplies from the warehouse. I am still an intern and have those normal intern responsibilities. The other day I stuffed 5000 envelopes to be sent to our customers, and honestly it was a nice change of pace from all the reading I do. I have found glitches and errors on our websites as well as grammatical errors that have been fixed. Sometimes a fresh perspective is good for a company and I am glad I have been able to help in as many ways as I have.
    Working at Windmill is a great way to understand a large-scale business and how it operates. This internship is not only good for my resume, but it gives me real world experience which I think places me ahead of the curve. I have worked efficiently every day I have been here and have helped get people back on track with their work so that they are not backed up. I don't have long before my time here is up, but until then I will continue to help those around me so I benefit the company the best I can. The things I have learned here at Windmill are invaluable and I will keep them with me beyond this experience.
  • April 19 - Matthew Leeds

    My time at Crum & Forster Insurance has continued to be a great educational experience. It is gratifying to work with colleagues who care so much about my IT education.
    At the company, I juggle many tasks and projects, while continuing to serve our end users. Since starting my internship, I have solved over 130 Help Desk tickets ranging from Citrix session restarts to disruptions that effect critical business units. Many times, I must contact users over the phone and remote into their company-issued computers. When these instances occur, I guide the user through the fix or solve the problem myself. By allowing end users to be in the driver’s seat instead of the technician, it increases the chances that a user can fix future issues. As a result, the amount of tickets decreases. This increases productivity across the board. My team and I strive to achieve this goal on a daily basis.
    I am responsible for conducting multiple office/workstation relocations with the Facilities department. This process requires moving the user’s computer, peripherals and business phone to their new location. I must ensure their equipment is operational before proceeding to the next move. In addition, I assist in the setup of training rooms for large meetings, laying temporary network cable and installing the portable dual monitor desktop carts. 
    On the hardware front, I troubleshoot monitors, desktops, laptops, docking stations, copiers, corporate scanners and mobile devices, among many other technologies. It is important to determine whether the unit in question is fixable or needs to be replaced. When we have broken desktops or laptops that are still under warranty, I coordinate on-site repairs with manufacturers (such as Dell) who will send out a technician to perform the work. I make contact with the contractor, book a conference room for them and monitor the labor until the repair is completed. 
    I have continued to be an active participant in our departmental meetings. They welcome any recommendations on purchasing decisions and new initiatives that will dictate the direction of the company’s national IT infrastructure. For example, I selected the smartphone case that will be deployed to employees. Additionally, I consult with our domestic technicians and assets in India who benefit U.S. operations.
    My internship at Crum & Forster has been invaluable. I will be able to transfer the skills I have learned at C&F to future positions.
  • March 29 - Kim Robbins, West Orange Police Department

    As an intern with the West Orange Police Department, I have been splitting my time between the Records Bureau and the Policy and Training Bureau. In both units, I have been most impressed not by the cases on which I am working, but by the mentality of the personnel and the principles behind the police force’s operation.
    Populated mostly by civilian employees, Records is in charge of storing, recovering, and distributing information about every incident to which police have responded. In any given year, Records processes about 45,000 reports, ranging from traffic incidents to identity theft to homicide. Each report is born digital and written by officers, but is printed, stored, and redirected as necessary by Records. The maintenance of both paper and digital copies of hundreds of thousands of reports, some dating back to the 1980s, requires incredible care and organization (and what seems like every box and file cabinet ever manufactured). To me, this reflects the police department’s awareness of the importance of its work. The personnel understand that every crime committed in West Orange impacts individual civilians and the town as a whole, and that by diligently recording these incidents, the police can provide evidence to convict criminals and appropriate information and support for victims.
    The Policy and Training Bureau ensures that all police department operations meet or exceed federal standards. So far, I have helped the bureau prepare for upcoming officer training sessions, and participated in policy meetings to assess the way patrol officers record their daily activities. However, most interestingly, I have organized and reviewed the material that new officers must learn before they join the force. This content is equal parts technical and interpersonal: officers learn about specific offenses, penalties, and policies, but also study social psychology, community relations, leadership, and communication. This duality is reflected throughout the police department. Personnel at every level take continuing education courses in cultural sensitivity, just as they take courses in radar use or biohazard containment. There is even an entire unit of would-be patrol officers dedicated to public relations. These officers attend fairs and other public functions, and organize casual meet-and-greets with civilians. They dedicate their time to building trust and rapport between the police and the public. By engaging and fostering relationships with civilians, the police department works to eliminate crime in a preventive and minimally forceful way.
    Tension between the West Orange Police Department and West Orange residents is minimal. This is not achieved or maintained with brute force. Every member of the police force, from the officers on patrol to the civilians in Records, works carefully, diligently, and sensitively to complete each task. I have learned that effective policing is psychological: it is defined by strategic thinking, meticulous organization, and close, cooperative relationships. 
  • March 13 - Jake Helfand, Windmill Health Products

    For my internship I am working at a nutritional supplement company called Windmill Health Products. We are a subdivision of Vitaquest, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of supplements (over 500 million doses of supplements per month). My internship has been great so far. I get to work directly with the Vice President and Head of Marketing.
    My main priority while working at Windmill is to help the company with anything it needs. However this internship also allows me the opportunity to be better versed in an area of life that I am very interested in. A large portion of the work I do is research. My first week consisted of me researching the benefits of a specific health diet. I then got to write an article providing a general idea of what it is and why you should eat such a diet. Since nutrition is a big part of my life, being able to research things in-depth not only helps Windmill provide its customers with good information, it allows me to learn more about the human body and what I need to do to be healthy.
    Last week, Windmill took place in one of the largest nutritional supplement expos in the country. Unfortunately it was in California so I did not get to attend, but I did get to help work on things for the expo. I got to write and make up Deal Sheets for our product ideas. The expo is designed so that companies that are producing new products get to promote them before they are actually fully developed. A Deal Sheet is a document describing the product with a 3D rendering of the product on the front page and a page of beneficial information on the back promoting the product. I got to write and develop 10 Deal Sheets for new products that were used to promote our new brands at the expo.
    This is not a typical internship. I don't just make copies and get coffee; I get to help with marketing and producing new and developing products. I get to find nutritional benefits and then write up an article and claims to then put on products that you find at your drugstore. I write up articles and sales sheets for our domestic and international customers (including large companies like Walmart and Vitamin Shoppe) on products they are looking to buy and sell.
    Since I will be majoring in business over the next few years, I think working here at Windmill is giving me a fantastic opportunity to work in a business environment while also learning and helping to provide information on a topic (nutrition) that I already love to learn about. I am learning a lot and get to help teach people about the benefits of nutrition and trying to be healthy. I can't imagine a more perfect internship for me to participate in and am very excited for the next few months.
  • March 6 - Matthew Leeds, Crum and Forster Property and Casualty Insurance Company

    Shalom Golda Och Academy Community!
    My name is Matthew Leeds. I am a participant in the Golda Och Academy Senior Internship Program. I was fortunate enough to secure an internship at the headquarters of Crum and Forster Property and Casualty Insurance Company in the Information Technology Division. So far, my internship has been amazing.
    As a member of the Information Technology division, I report into the Desktop group and work alongside the technicians. The Desktop group is responsible for handling, troubleshooting and solving help desk requests from thousands of end users located around the globe. For example, when an end user reports that their computer is slow or a software package is not working as expected, I work with my group to solve those problems. I triage help desk tickets so they are routed to the appropriate division. The Director of the group holds weekly staff meetings and has made sure I'm present at every one.
    Additionally, my group is tasked with managing the life cycle of cellular devices deployed throughout the organization. When an employee receives a new smartphone, we set up the device. When a device is returned or has reached end-of-life, we ensure the device is processed correctly.
    One of the most important roles of the Desktop group is to prepare computers and other necessary technologies for new hires. In recent years, technology has become an extremely important element of the onboarding process. If technology is not ready on day one, it can be a challenging transition experience for the new hire. Therefore, by coordinating with Human Resources, the desktop team and I make sure that equipment for new hires is ready to go well before their first day. With over fifty offices nationwide, it is imperative the onboarding process, when it comes to technology, is streamlined and perfectly executed.
    Furthermore, I help with the upgrading and replacement of equipment. When equipment is turned in for whatever reason (ex. when a user receives a new computer), the unit is repurposed or recycled. If the unit is repurposed, I load a new image and upgrade components if necessary, such as the RAM, hard drive or battery. Moreover, when new equipment arrives, I prepare the equipment for use by Crum & Forster employees.
    I couldn’t be happier to be a contributing member of the Desktop team at Crum & Forster. I am learning so much and look forward to the next few months of my internship. 
  • February 24 - Aviva Kamens, Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey

    For my internship, I’m working at Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, one of the most prominent theater companies in the country.  While they don’t only produce Shakespeare plays, it is what they’re known for, so much so that the First Folio tour stopped there to display the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623. 
    My internship will be roughly divided into two parts.  From now until mid-April I’ll be working in the costume shop, and somewhere around Passover, I’ll switch over to shadowing the stage manager for their production of The Merchant of Venice
    Over the course of my internship, I have three goals.  First, I want to use the internship to build connections and knowledge for a future career in theater.  Secondly, I want the opportunity to call out cues on the headset while they’re running the show.  And thirdly, I want to find the costume that the school rented for me when we put on The Importance of Being Earnest when I was in 10th Grade.  This week, I was already able to fulfill that third goal; not only did I find my costume, but I found most of the girls’ costumes from the show, which was super cool!
    One of the other cool experiences from the first week was getting to watch fittings for the swings.  In theater, swings are actors and actresses who cover many different parts in the show.  Sometimes, they can fit into the costumes of the people who actually play the parts, but sometimes, they can’t, and the costume shop person has to put together a whole new outfit for that character.  We were lucky, in that we only had that problem with one actor, but putting together the new costumes was pretty tricky.  I got to help out with this, which was cool; I learned how to hand-sew by sewing labels onto costumes, and how to use the machine by attaching suspenders onto his pair of pants.  Next week, we’ll continue to work on his costume, and I’m very excited to work in the dye room.
    I spent Friday of this week working in the education department.  While I mostly did paperwork, I also got to sit in on an audition, in which Doug West, the director of education, worked on a monologue with a girl during her audition for their Senior Corps, a summer program that STNJ runs.  When I audition for shows at GOA, Mr. Herskowitz often works on the monologue with me in the same way that Doug worked with the girl.  It was kind of cool to see the audition process that I’ve been involved with as an actress from the director’s side, and I have a feeling that it won’t be the last time.
    • Matthew Leeds, who is interning with Crum and Forster Property and Casualty Insurance Company in the Information Technology Division.

      Matthew Leeds, who is interning with Crum and Forster Property and Casualty Insurance Company in the Information Technology Division.

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