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Work Study Spotlight

High School Intern Takes on the Data World

In a world where technology is growing at a rapid pace, data analysis is becoming ever more important to businesses in order to stay competitive. This is true for companies such as NFI Industries, a leading third-party logistics provider offering customers domestic and international supply chain solutions.

But to conduct effective data analyses, companies also need a prepared and trained workforce. NFI Industries has invested in preparing their future workforce through joining the Cristo ReyPhiladelphia Work-Study Program.*

Clifton Collins, 12th grade, has worked at NFI Industries since the start of his junior year at Cristo Rey. He began working in NFI’s Human Resources Department and currently works in the Transportation Engineering Department.

Gary Grega, Clifton’s supervisor, says, “Clifton has been critical in helping with our data analysis. In Transportation Engineering, we need to understand a customers’ network, what they want, and how we can best serve that customer.”

To kick off the academic year at Cristo Rey, freshmen and sophomore students attend Prep for Success Bootcamp, where they take crash courses in professional skills to prepare them for the workforce. Every freshmen student takes a five-day introductory course in Excel. Gary and his team at NFI picked up where Cristo Rey left off at bootcamp and started additional training with Clifton in Excel. Just a few months later, Clifton is creating Pivot Tables and using formulas, such as VLOOKUP.

Clifton is tasked with validating the information and helping to create Pivot Table summaries for NFI’s clients about their loads in, loads out, spending, etc. “It requires a lot of attention to detail. If you mess up in one spot, you mess up the entire spreadsheet,” says Clifton.

Clifton also performs invoice tracking – entering all the items on an invoice, such as routes, stop, miles, etc. into the system– which can then be analyzed to create future route models for clients.

In addition to continued practice in Excel, Gary set goals with Clifton this academic year to receive training and practice in two other systems: Direct Route and autoCAD. Direct Route is a route optimization software and autoCAD is a computer-aided design (CAD) software that architects, engineers, and construction professionals use to create precise 2D and 3D drawings.

Clifton has been briefly introduced to the systems and provided the ability to “play around” to get acquainted with them. “I’m really interested in autoCAD. I even read parts of the manual at home and figured out how to make my own three-dimensional racking plan for a warehouse,” says Clifton. Not surprising for a young man who would like to pursue a career in architecture and/or business management!

As a senior, Clifton is in the midst of the college application process: “My experience in the Work-Study Program has helped me make decisions for what I’d like to study in college. Working at NFI has helped me come out of my shell – I’ve learned communication skills, problem-solving, and I’m much more confident in myself.”

But Clifton says his favorite part about working at NFI is working with the people at the company. “Clifton brings a lot of positive energy. He’s reliable, trustworthy and never complains. We’re lucky to have him,” says Gary.

Cristo Rey is grateful for job partners like NFI that take an interest in the students. “It is amazing to provide students like Clifton the experience they will be able to leverage now academically, as well as long-term when they begin their professional careers,” says Sid Brown, CEO of NFI. “Having great people is essential to NFI’s success, and partnering with Cristo Rey has been an excellent way for NFI to connect with and help develop the workforce of the future.”

After four years of work-study internships, Cristo Rey’s graduates enter college with real, invaluable work experience. But more importantly, they enter college with confidence, having realized their true potential.

After all, not many incoming college undergraduates can perform a VLOOKUP in Excel or have experience in autoCAD!

*Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School serves 9th through 12th graders from Philadelphia and Camden who could not otherwise afford a private education. The innovative Work-Study model enables students to receive a top quality, college-prep education. Each student works for real wages at a real job five days per month, funding 60% of the cost of their tuition.

Posted by Erika Vogt on Thursday February 28
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Roaches and Spiders and Snakes - Oh My!

It’s not every day that a high school student gets up close and personal with a tarantula or snake, but Cristo Rey students who work at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University have the unique opportunity to do so.

The Academy of Natural Sciences is a job partner in the Cristo Rey Philadelphia Work-Study Program. Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School serves 9th through 12th graders from Philadelphia and Camden who could not otherwise afford a private education. The innovative Work-Study model enables students to receive a top quality, college-prep education. Each student works for real wages at a real job five days per month, funding 60% of the cost of their tuition. Jobs at non-profits, like the Academy of Natural Sciences, are made possible through funding from companies like VWR, part of Avantor. For the 2017 school year, VWR funded the positions of the eight Cristo Rey students that worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

As a leading natural history museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences has many exhibits for visitors to explore, including Dinosaur Hall, the Butterfly Exhibit, and Outside In Exhibit. There are countless opportunities to learn and you may just learn something new from one of our very own Cristo Rey workers.

Most Cristo Rey students work at the Outside In Exhibit. Outside In is designed for young children and families to explore and touch live animals in a safe environment. Cristo Rey workers maintain the exhibits, care for the animals, and hold the animals for children to touch.

The day starts with morning chores: “Before 10 am, when Outside In opens, we have to feed the animals, mist their cages, and get the exhibits ready,” says Tatiyana Brown, freshman at Cristo Rey Philadelphia. The animals range from cockroaches, spiders, millipedes, and beetles, to snakes, geckos, tortoises, turtles, and rabbits. “I was really scared of snakes, but my supervisor trained me how to hold them and now I actually like snakes. I take out the Eastern Milksnake every time I’m at work,” says Brown.

Supervisors, Sean Stallworth and Amy Hoyt, train Cristo Rey workers on how to hold the animals. Bugs were first to learn how to hold: “I was cringing. The Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are huge and dark, but now I can grab them without hesitation,” says Marilise Morales, sophomore. “Working there has made me braver when I see bugs in my house,” she adds, laughing.

Not only do our workers hold the animals for children to touch, but they educate visitors about the animals with knowledge learned from their supervisors and books in the exhibit. “My favorite part is teaching the kids. There’s so much to share and each day is different,” says Morales.

In addition, Cristo Rey workers have free time to explore other exhibits. Leona Henderson, junior, loves to check out the Dioramas: “The African Habitats look so realistic and learning about each animal is fascinating. I also love the Butterfly Exhibit; they have live butterflies that land on your hands and fingers.” Kaiya Boyer, freshman, gets to work in the Butterfly Exhibit regularly, where she cares for the butterflies and helps manage visitors. “I’m not a big fan of bugs, but the butterflies are really pretty. My favorite is the Paper Kite Butterfly," notes Boyer.

Working at the Academy of Natural Sciences is a unique opportunity that not only provides students insight to a future career in science, but provides them the opportunity to experience a different work environment than an office or desk job.

“I want to be a homicide detective. And I know working at the Academy will have given me useful experience and knowledge for when I go into this field,” says Henderson. For Marilise, working at the Academy opened her eyes to a new interest: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do before, but now I know I want to work with kids.”

The Work-Study Program allows students to explore careers at a young age and see a bigger future for themselves. This would not be possible without diverse work-study partners, such as the Academy of Natural Sciences, and company sponsors like VWR. Students are meeting new people, learning on the job, and overcoming fears. So, if you ever see a bug in your house, you know who to call!

Posted by Erika Vogt on Thursday January 3 at 12:51PM
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