We had a current Dynamy student, Isaiah Levy, come up with questions to ask our Admissions Team. We wanted to know what a current student who has been in the program for a month thought incoming applicants should know.
Below are the questions by Isaiah and the answers from Katelynn Shea, Director of Admissions and Stephanie Kozlowski, Assistant Director of Admissions.
1. What makes Dynamy different from other gap year programs in the US?
Dynamy is unique in that we are a domestic gap year program. Traditionally most gap year programs travel or have an abroad component but we do not. We are located in Worcester, Massachusetts (positioned right in the middle of Massachusetts) and we focus on internships, career exploration, and independent living in apartments. Our students truly become living, working, contributing members of the Worcester community and benefit from having a city experience while they are with us.
There are several great gap year programs in the US but all have a different focus- some focus on environmental sustainability, some are adventure based and have a wilderness/camping component and others offer community and volunteer based opportunities. Dynamy offers hands on experiential learning through internships while learning to live with other Dynamy students in apartments.
2. What’s your favorite part of your job at Dynamy?
The favorite part of my job is meeting students and families when we travel for the Gap Year Fair circuit. Meeting with families and telling them about who we are at Dynamy and what we do is rewarding because so many families don’t even know that taking a gap year is an option after high school, let alone that a program quite as unique as Dynamy exists. About 85% of our students are college bound but they are looking for alternative post-secondary options that will allow them to explore their areas of interest before heading off to college. Knowing that we are helping shape the trajectory of a young adult who needs a non-academic semester/ year is energizing and it is why we all do the work that we do!
3. How do we get to select our internships? Is there a list we can choose from or are they assigned randomly?
Before getting to Dynamy all students are paired up with a Dynamy advisor. The advisor truly acts like a life coach or a mentor for students while they are with us. Conversations will typically take place weeks before a student arrives at Dynamy about what their areas of interest are, likes, dislikes, etc. Based on these conversations the student and advisor will work to come up with a list of locations that a student will interview at when they arrive at Dynamy. During orientation week we will offer resume building workshops, mock interviews and interview prep so by mid-week students are actively going out and interviewing for these different jobs. Just like a working adult, students will be offered jobs and then they will work with their advisor to determine what job would be a best fit for them in that semester.
We do not place students at an internship so they have to want to play an active role in communicating their interests and they will not know where they are working before they arrive at Dynamy.
4. If we don’t like an internship, are we allowed to switch or change? Is there a time limit for how long we have before we are locked in with our choice?
Students will discuss their internship options with their advisor and then select a job that is a best fit for them. Once a student decides where they are going to work they will sit down with their advisor and their internship sponsor (similar to a workplace boss or professional mentor). In that opening meeting the student, advisor and internship sponsor will come up with a working plan for the semester regarding hours of the internship, internship expectations and various projects.
We understand at Dynamy that there will be great days and tough days at an internship but that is the reality of any professional job. If students are unhappy with their selection they can have that conversation with their advisor and we can help to devise a plan that would be best for all parties. If an internship is not a fit and we cannot create a plan to work around concerns then, as a last resort, we can work with students to find another internship option.
5. What are the Clark University classes about? Do we have any options to choose from?
Dynamy is a non-academic program but we do offer optional onsite college classes with Clark University. Clark University college courses allow students the opportunity to begin or continue earning college credit, gain first-hand experience managing a more rigorous academic workload, and develop more effective study skills and habits in a low-risk, supportive learning environment. In any given semester we may have between 6-12 students take the class.
Dynamy works with Clark to offer three sociology courses over the course of the year:
- Fall Term- Organizational Behavior
- Winter Term- Social Identity and Personal Action
- Spring Term- Issues of Race, Class, and Gender
6. Where can we go to get groceries? Are there any rewards programs?
We are in walking distance to Price Chopper, Big Y and a Shaw’s Supermarket. Most of our students will shop at Price Chopper but we also see students using PeaPod, Amazon and WalMart food delivery services. With grocery shopping being an ever changing experience we encourage students to find the best mode of food shopping that works best for them. Dynamy students who opt into our stipend plan are learning to live off of $125 a week so we will help students with budgeting around food shopping.
As far as rewards go, Price Chopper (which is the closet grocery store) offers a free Advantage Rewards Program that gives member access to lower prices, special offers, and a point system that can be used towards food purchases and gas.
7. Do we work on weekends? Are we allowed to change our schedules?
In years past we didn’t typically see students working on the weekends but I would say in the last year or so many students have started picking up extra hours on the weekends. This could be prompted by the internship location or it could be that the student wants to work more than their required 28 hours. We have two students right now at the American Heritage Museum and they do work on Saturday and Sunday because that is when that museum has the highest visitor traffic. For students who do work on a weekend that typically means they have a weekday off to replace the Saturday or Sunday worked.
We don’t typically see our students change their schedules because the work schedules often come from the directive of the internship organization. If your internship says that they need you to work from 10:00-6:00pm because those are the hours of operation then those are the hours you would work. Most of the organizations that we work with are small businesses, they need work to be completed and our interns are looking to fulfill those project gaps during business hours.
8. What if two people want the same job? Can multiple people end up at the same internship?
This will always depend on the internship location. Some internship locations may communicate to our staff that they only need one intern in a given semester but there may be other times where they need a few interns to help with projects. Our advising team will share that information with students if/ when it is applicable. This semester we have a few students at the same internship site but typically they are all working on different projects thus diversifying the experience.
9. Tell us a cool success story of a Dynamy alum?
This is tough to narrow down, but there are two cool success scenarios that we enjoy the most. Dynamy is currently in its 51st year of operation. This means our history and impact spans more than 5 decades. For us one of the greatest success stories is when we see legacy students. Having a student that attended Dynamy 20 or 30 years ago recognize the impact of their time here and then decide to encourage their own child to pursue the same opportunity if by far one of our favorite scenarios. The second would be when a Dynamy alum has found their niche and years down the road becomes a Dynamy intern sponsor. Again, they’ve placed such a value on our program and the impact it had on their career that they decide to give back and sponsor one of our current students!
10. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Stephanie- Mint Chocolate Chip for life!
Katelynn- Depends on my mood but right now it’s Peanut Butter Oreo, Mint Cookie or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough