Retrofitting a basement into a home hair salon. Repairing an energy boiler for a California dairy plant. Installing garden containers in a Philadelphia park.
These are some of the projects Williamson students worked on during their summer break. Regarded as key to their hands-on trade education, students between their freshman and junior years, as well as junior and senior years, are expected to find work in their chosen trade. To help them, Williamson has established an extensive network of companies that students tap into when seeking out summer posts.
Both the desire to see our students engaged over the summer in their trade and the network of companies that have been formed over the years with Williamson, is one of the unique benefits of this trade school for our young men.
Because of their economic hardships, many Williamson students have held jobs since high school, even earlier. Students appreciate the income from these internships, which helps them to meet financial obligations outside of their tuition, room, and board which Williamson covers.
Director of Placement Margaret Kingham has been assisting students for the past 27 years, brokering internships and acting as a liaison for recruiters seeking out skilled and reliable tradesmen. For Ms. Kingham, placing students was never more challenging then during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many businesses shut down. But despite the cancellations and uncertainty, freshmen and juniors still landed internships they found challenging and rewarding.
Hired by Williamson to serve on the campus work crew, Vincent Marinello and Anthony Umeroglu transformed the second-floor annex of Strine Library into a classroom that will allow for social distancing in the fall. They also reconfigured the paint shop, taking out the small faux rooms in the back that were used to demonstrate painting techniques, creating one open room. “It’s like a basketball court,” claim the young carpenters. “After being sent home and trapped inside for a while, it was so nice to be on campus every day,” Vincent says. “It’s also nice because you’re doing something you’re going to see, it’s meaningful.”
California Boilers recruited Avery Frank, the first student from the Machine Tool Technology Shop to receive a coveted internship that has only been filled by Power Plant students in the last few years. During the week, Avery worked on boilers at different sites around California’s Central Valley. Sent out with either a technician or boiler operator, he shadowed full-time employees and learned the trade. On the weekends, he and fellow interns ventured out to Yosemite, Huntington Beach, and Sequoyah National Park where they met up with 2020 Williamson graduate Brian Ehly who interned with California Boilers before accepting a full-time position.
First-year painter Harrison Sorman had his internship with Newport News Shipbuilding cancelled because of the coronavirus. Ms. Kingham came to the rescue by forwarding an email that said Emerald Windows needed a painter. Emerald Windows was contracted to replace 155 windows in Rowan Hall, the College’s 1891 main building designed by noted architect Frank Furness. While feeling proud to know that the window he was painting would be going into Rowan Hall, Harrison gained confidence in his own abilities as a young tradesman. He has been invited back for the 2020 winter break.
Horticulture student Joseph Hicks had his plans to work on a historic garden and cemetery cancelled because of COVID-19. He was scheduled to work for Laurel Hill Cemetery, which was entering the second year of a partnership with Williamson for Horticulture students to work on the 74-acre property.
In early June, Ms. Kingham emailed Joseph a posting about a job with a landscaping company. She helped him set up an interview and within a week he was working for Fine Gardens Creations of Philadelphia. Joseph discovered his internship to be a valuable networking opportunity. He worked alongside Williamson alumni George Fish, Class of 2014, while learning valuable skills. “I learned how to work on a crew – with deadlines and emergencies.”
Richard Torelli’s plans to work with a local contractor fell through. Richard called his carpentry instructor to see if he knew of any job opportunities. “Yes, come work for me,” said John Capuzzi, Williamson instructor and 2002 Graduate. He had plenty of work to do on his house in Broomall. Richard helped his instructor put shutters around the house and build a home salon in his basement for Mr. Capuzzi’s wife, a hairstylist.
All these students showed resilience in an unpredictable hiring climate and diligence in the positions they obtained during the 2020 summer months. Their futures are bright as they train for careers with solid salaries and opportunities for growth, says Mrs. Kingham, adding: “I think that any student who got an internship this summer was more than lucky!”
Your support of Williamson is helping to train our students to be respected leaders and productive members of society. Your generosity in giving can ensure future summer internships for these promising young men, and everything else that a Williamson education entails. Visit: https://www.williamson.edu/giving/make-a-gift/.