When you dine at Boston Market in New Hyde Park, the face of the restaurant chain’s latest national advertising campaign might be the team member serving the cornbread.
Khalilah Hamilton, a student in New Hyde Park Memorial High School’s community-based internship program, was recognized as employee of the month in October and her photo was chosen out of 600 locations to star in the chain’s next advertisement.
The community-based internship program was created for students with special needs to gain guided experience in the workplace with the goal of receiving full-time jobs.
Not only do students get to apply the skills they learn in the classroom, but they practice life skills such as maintaining a tidy uniform.
William “Rocky” Colavito and Christine Aiello, job coaches for the internship program, have partnered with New Hyde Park businesses such as the Left Paw, Applebee’s and Walgreen’s to hire the interns.
Interns are unpaid and work from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays in exchange for school credit.
Hamilton started interning for Boston Market in February.
She began with prepping the cornbread then chopping vegetables and following recipes until she branched out to serving customers’ food and running the cash register.
Hamilton diversified into other roles because her manager took notice of how hard she worked and how eager she was, Colavito said.
“You should see her face when she gets into the place,” he said.
Students in the program are placed in internships based on what they are interested in and what they are capable of.
Aiello and Colavito introduce the students to the workplace before they are left on their own.
Every day that the students intern, Aiello and Colavito visit their workplaces to see how they are performing.
On the first visit, they interact with the students and on the second visit, they observe from a distance.
Aiello loves when they “get the bonus of watching them interact with a customer.”
Last year, four students in the program were offered full-time jobs.
Colavito said that businesses tell them they love having their students and actually plan scheduling around when they will be interning.
Aiello and Colavito are always looking for other community organizations to participate in the internship program and encourage any that are interested to contact the high school.
The program holds the interns to a high standard and “it is students like Khalilah that bring it to the spotlight,” Colavito said.