Looking Beyond Graduation: Catching up with intern Tess about the emerging Council alumni network

By: Thea, Riley’s Way Intern


In late July, I sat down with Riley’s Way intern Tess Abraham, to discuss the projects she’s taken on so far during her internship. Earlier this summer, Tess graduated from the Horace Mann School, where she was a member of the Council partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx. Read more below to learn about the emerging Council alumni network and to hear Tess’s expert advice about being an intern!

Thea Berman: To start off, how has your summer been? Have you been in New York or have you been able to travel?

Tess Abraham: The start of my summer was really slow, actually. I graduated and then it was slow in June, and in July, actually just got back from Georgia, visiting my brother. I’m double vaccinated, and we didn’t go to too many places so it was totally safe! I hung out with a couple of my friends in the city, and then I started this internship in mid-July.

TB: Awesome! So what drew you to become an intern at Riley’s Way?

TA: So just in general what drew me to Riley’s Way– I really like the values that were foundational to the organization: kindness, empathy, understanding. And I really wanted to continue to be a part of the Riley’s Way family, and I didn’t know how to do that, because I lost touch with some of the people who were on the Council with me from the TYWLS [Bronx] school. So just the idea of being a part of creating a new alumni network was really exciting to me because I want to be a part of that network, and it really wasn’t there yet.

TB: Yeah, that’s great! So you sort of hinted at it already, but can you explain what you were focusing on as an intern these past couple of weeks? Did you have any goals when you started? Did your goals change?

TA: Yeah, my goal essentially is to create the framework for an alumni network. I recognize that I can’t do all of it by myself, but just doing the research through conducting alumni interviews, so that the interns and alumni that come after me can continue this work can pick up from where we left off. So that was my goal– to engage and reach as many people as I can and keep them connected to the family.

TB: Do you have any valuable insights from your interviews? Anything stand out to you?

TA: Just that everyone was so enthusiastic about continuing this. [The Council] wasn’t just some club– just a random thing to do after school. It has value, it means something to a lot of people. That was my main takeaway.

TB: That’s so good to hear. If your internship was extended what would be your next steps?

TA: Oh my gosh! I would definitely work on the mentorship program. I really only had time to work on the newsletter and the workshops, but a mentorship program would be really cool, and I think a lot of the alumni would really like that. I can’t really do that with my limited time, but if my internship were longer I would definitely want to work on that.

TB: That’s great. So this one’s a little open ended, but where do you see Riley’s Way programming in five years? It can be high-level or more specific, whatever comes to mind.

TA: Do you mean like the Councils?

TB: Anything! The Council, alumni network, Retreats…

TA: With the alumni network, I definitely see it expanding, we created a LinkedIn group– join, by the way! And it’s only 20 people, but I’m very excited to see it grow. And in the next couple of years, I’m excited to see the alumni network expand– not just alumni coming back to help Council members, but also the adults and employees of Riley’s Way helping alumni. So just this train of help and being able to come back for resources. For the Councils, I hear that people are thinking of expanding, so outside of the New York City area– I think that would be really cool to see. Also, the Councils being more inclusive to gender non-conforming people.

TB: Yeah, totally. Do you have any advice for future interns here at Riley’s Way?

TA: Enjoy it, I’d say! I think it’s an enjoyable experience, but don’t stress yourself out by trying to make everything perfect. You’re probably going to make mistakes, and it’s normal to make mistakes, and you’ll learn from it. It’s a fun experience! That’s all I have for now!

TB: No, that’s great! What lessons do you think you’ll take away from your internship

TA: To take things one step at a time. When a task seems too big, just knowing that the people who run the internship program are always there to help you. If you feel intimidated at a job or internship and you’re not doing it right, it’s not you, it’s them.

TB: This was really great– thanks for all your advice. But I think we should end on a more personal note, so I was wondering if you could recommend a favorite book to our blog readers?

TA: Oh man, I love so many books! I would recommend– I don’t know if you know the Six of Crows duology? They just made a Netflix show with it.

TB: I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds exciting!

TA: It’s really good! I recommend it if you like YA stuff, there’s the Six of Crows and the follow-up Crooked Kingdom, and the Netflix show Shadow and Bone. I’ll nerd out over it if I keep talking, but that’s my recommendation.

TB: That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sitting down with me, I’m happy we could have a conversation before the end of your internship!

TA: No problem, thanks so much!

To learn more about all the Riley’s Way summer interns, click here!