Experience Learning

Sophia M. ’15 came away from Intern Day having learned the most valuable lesson she could have: what she absolutely did not want to do with her life.

Discovering that a profession you’ve romanticized doesn’t move you could well prove invaluable in lighting the path toward one that does. But Sophia seemed to sense that this likely wasn’t the primary aim of the annual sophomore event, and preemptively defended her revelation.

“That’s what you’re supposed to do with Intern Day!,” she said. “I chose architecture because I was interested in it and wanted to learn about it. And I learned a lot.”

To help the students choose what profession to get a taste of for Intern Day, several speakers came to school to tell the kids about their careers. One was Harry Pettoni, an architect whose twin sons, Kyle and Tyler, are also sophomores.

“When I was younger, I had dreamed of wanting to build things,” Sophia said. “I was always told that architecture was math-heavy and math is one of my favorite things. Mr. Pettoni’s talk was really interesting, and I thought I’d look into it.”

When she headed to Mechanicsburg for her day with Pettoni at his firm, Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Assoc., Sophia found architecture is indeed heavy on the math. But humans aren’t the ones crunching the numbers. “Because computers are so powerful, they do that part of the work and so architecture is much more about design and art than I ever imagined,” Sophia said.

She was quick to point 0ut that, while the experience wasn’t what she expected, that in no way diminished its value. “There was nothing boring about it,” Sophia said. “It was fascinating to see how much thought goes into things that we take for granted, and Mr. Pettoni and everyone were very nice.

“It’s just that after seeing what a day in the life of architect is actually like, I think I’m going to look into engineering schools when it’s time to apply,” she said. That kind of discovery, said humanities teacher and Intern Day coordinator Brenna Stuart, is exactly the point of the experience.

“The focus of the sophomore year is assessing career interests, since the 11th grade is focused on college. This is a last chance to think about the bigger picture beyond college,” said Stuart. Besides Sophia, some students saw an especially enlightening bigger picture.

Paige B. spent the day with F&M Athletic Director Patricia Epps.

“It was a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff than I expected,” said Paige, who sat in with Epps on a board meeting and got an eye-opening look at just how much work goes into the Division III recruitment process.

“I definitely plan to play field hockey in college, so seeing that was great,” Paige said.

Emily C. headed to Washington, D.C., and got a taste of life as a congressional aide, shadowing a staffer in Sen. Casey’s office.

“I thought it would be a lot more formal,” said Emily, who popped into a “kind 0f heated” Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration and got a look at some of the more colorful mail that flows into the senator’s inbox.

“There were Post-It notes with stamps on them. Someone mailed a hubcap for some reason. That was… interesting,” she said.

Any readers interested in participating in either Career or Intern Day next April should contact Stuart. “It’s especially meaningful when it’s a school parent or an alumnus,” Stuart said. “It really connects when the speaker can say, ‘I sat where you are sitting.’”