There are no good jobs on Shelter Island.
That’s what many young people tell you, but a small contingent of high school students, involved in the first year of the school’s internship program, are ready to dispute that theory, expressing their delight in the wide number of opportunities they’ve experienced in both the private and public sectors.
“It’s not difficult to find a job here,” said Adrian Sulahian, a 17-year-old senior.
The program was the idea of school Guidance Counselor Martha Tuthill, who enlisted special education teacher Michelle Corbett to lead the effort. The students visited sites on the Island and pitched in with the work, including South Ferry, the Shelter Island Public Library, the Highway Department and at Town Hall.
“It was a chance to get out and see what every does,” said 17-year-old Aidan Mysliborski.
One intern, 17-year-old Zach Renault, has secured a paying job as a result of his experience at South Ferry. Following his internship with Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Morehead, Zach asked if there might be a job for him with the company.
“It worked out really well,” he said, suggesting it could be the start of a long career with the company.
Prior to the internship program, Zach was interested in architecture. That career choice could still happen, he said, but for now, he’s happy to have landed at South Ferry. The ambitious young man is also considering working for the town in some capacity.
Zach is headed to college in the fall, but for now, Mr. Morehead said, “We’re delighted to have him as part of the team.”
Ms. Corbett described Zach as a shy young man when he entered the program, but blossomed as the program evolved.
Not only did he and other students learn about the mechanics of the ferry service from Captain Mike Mundy, but learned the business from finances to traffic flow, Mr. Morehead said.
“I love the interns,” said Highway Superintendent and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. He put some students to work getting “Tot Lot” — the playground on School Street — equipment in place, planting trees, fixing 4-poster units and doing beach maintenance work.
Mr. Card and Town Engineer John Cronin are combing budgets for funds to hire a couple of interns this summer to work on septic system mapping and storm drain projects.
The students spent time at the library, learning about day-to-day operations and how the library interacts with other libraries in Suffolk County. “They were great,” Director Terry Lucas said, adding that a bonus was it made her and her staff think about their own jobs in a new light as they explained them to the students.
A high point of the program for the youngsters, they said, was spending time with sculptor Hap Bowditch, who works with metal.
Town Hall also was a venue for the interns, with Town Attorney Laury Dowd teaching them about wetlands issues .Building Inspector Chris Tehan had only one suggestion for those who spent a little time with him: There was a need for more time.
The advice the interns have for those who follow in their footsteps is simple. “Take in as much information as you can and pay attention,” Zach said.
Adrian added: “You may go into it not having an interest in some internships, but you can always learn something new.”