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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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5218 N Broad Street   |   Philadelphia, PA 19141
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