Local High School Students Gain Hands-On Experience Through Internship Program at Columbia

Columbia University Facilities and Operations
August 17, 2018

After receiving over 11,000 responses to a university-wide survey measuring commuting habits of students, faculty, and staff, Columbia’s Dan Allalemdjian needed to analyze the data and present key findings. Allalemdjian, director of transportation demand management for Environmental Stewardship, called upon Ibrahima Diallo – an incoming high school senior –to summarize data and create an executive summary to report the survey’s key findings.

Diallo began working with Allalemdjian over the summer as part of the Columbia University Local Community High School Internship Program. The six-week program matches high school students with mentors across Columbia University Facilities and Operations to provide practical work experience before graduation.

During his internship, Diallo assisted Allalemdjian with transportation and commuter initiatives such as performing bi-weekly check-ups of Zagster, the university bike share system, and coordinating maintenance for any bikes in need of repair. He also helped the Environmental Stewardship team educate summer camp children on how to sort through recycling and waste at an event organized by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office at Ralph Bunche School in West Harlem.
“Ibrahima has been a great asset to the Environmental Stewardship team,” said Allalemdjian. “His work helped us complete critical tasks to make decisions and create a fuller picture.”

High school intern Ibrahima Diallo at a sustainability education event organized by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office at Ralph Bunche School in West Harlem

Diallo is one of 11 high school students who participated in this summer’s internship program. More than 75 high school students from the local community and around the city applied.
Chris Acosta worked with Facilities and Operations’ Finance and Administration department. Assisting Cyle Timmons, associate director of Capital Finance, Acosta developed a building factbook report, which includes square footage, year constructed, and active and completed major capital projects at buildings across campus.

“The building factbook was a good way to give Chris some insight into different aspects of what we do in Capital Finance, from expense reporting, looking at project information in our project management database, and gathering building information from our reports and the Department of Buildings website. Chris is gaining valuable Microsoft Excel experience working with formulas and presenting information,” said Timmons.

Acosta is interested in pursuing engineering, so Timmons introduced him to the engineers working within Facilities and Operations to learn what they pursued in college and how they ended up at Columbia.

In addition to the assignments from their mentors, the interns come together each Friday to explore various aspects of the university. During one of their weeks together, the interns received a tour of Columbia’s Manhattanville campus and were able to view the historical exhibit on Sheffield Farms, learn how the Central Energy Plant at Manhattanville works, and tour the Wallach Art Gallery. At the program’s completion, the interns participated in a closing ceremony where they presented on their role and what they have learned.

Other interns in the 2018 summer internship program include (with the department they are working in parentheses): Cheick Camara (Operations Compliance), Jasmin Maldonado (Manhattanville Development Group), John McField (Information Technology), Imari Monroe (Manhattanville Development Group), Ahmed Muharram (Human Resources), Nicholas Ruiz (Lerner Operations), Cristal Vidals (Design and Compliance), Carlos Villanueva (Code Compliance), and Sarah Wiggins (Strategic Communications). This summer’s interns live in Upper Manhattan and South Bronx.