County Executive Odell’s PILOT Program Continues To Excel

First enacted in 2013 by County Executive MaryEllen Odell, the PILOT program was designed to invite high school, undergraduate, and graduate students to have a summer internship opportunity with the Putnam County Government. With its continued support from the Legislature and Personnel Departments, and the positive experiences interns have had, the program continues to excel.

As an incoming junior at Colby College, I was in search of an internship that would provide experience and exposure. When I heard about the PILOT Program, I immediately applied. Initially, I worked under the supervision of Tracey Walsh and Rachel Paradise for the Department of Tourism. From endorsing the county on social media, attending meetings, and helping coordinate events, the internship provided me with direct insight on how our county works to serve our people. Due to my exceptional experience, I applied for the PILOT Program the following year and am now an intern for the County Executive’s office. This past summer I’ve had the privilege of working for County Executive Odell, Thomas Feighery, Patricia Simone, and Lisa Ranghelli.

During my internship I was able to develop a deeper understanding of how a local government operates, specifically with local laws, county regulations, and how to work alongside other departments simultaneously to achieve a common goal. My own experiences with the county have taught me a lot about the type of worker I am and brought my own career goals to surface. It is because of this, that I have nothing but good things to say about the PILOT program and would encourage any student looking to start or advance their career to apply.

Erin Leather, a senior at the College of Saint Rose, majoring in Forensic Psychology, and minoring in Criminal Justice, has worked for the Law Department for the past three summers. Currently, Erin works alongside Marissa Jones and Jennifer Nygard, and attends court hearings with Conrad Pasquale. Working for the Law Department has allowed Erin to become proficient with using top-notch computer databases, enhanced interpersonal skills, as well as exposure to family court cases. When asked if her internships with the Law Department helped affirm her career path, she concluded, “The PILOT program validated my dream of becoming a lawyer.” It is because of this validation that Erin is extremely diligent; in addition to a full workday, Erin will conclude her evening with studying for the LSAT, which she intends on taking this summer.

Eden Barone is an incoming junior at Hofstra University, with a double major in Political Science and Economics, returning to the PILOT Program. Throughout her educational experience, Eden has had exposure with Putnam County through the Youth Court. Eden developed a relationship with Janeen Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Youth Bureau, contributing to her application and internship with the Youth Bureau. This year, Eden is interning with the Office of the County Legislature. A typical day involves being a part of county meetings, creating minutes for Legislative meetings, helping draft resolutions and memorandums, and gaining a deeper understanding of how factual information and hearsay come into play. Due to these experiences, Eden has felt that the PILOT Program has helped her gain irreplaceable experiences that have helped fuel her drive to climb the ladder to becoming a successful lawyer, judge, and potentially a member of the Supreme Court.

Nicholas Zito, an incoming junior at Quinnipiac University majoring in Accounting, currently works alongside Mike Lewis in the Finance Department. As a first-year PILOT intern, Nick has been able to further amplify his own skillset with navigating Excel and other accounting programs, increased his time management skills, as well as learn how to work with a team. A typical day involves working with taxes, coordinating budgets, and an assortment of projects. When asked if he would recommend the PILOT program to other students, Nick concluded, “Yes, absolutely. The PILOT program has given me so much exposure and has taught me how to apply what I’ve learned at school.” Additionally, Nick described how his ideal career would be to work alongside the IRS, and that working with the county has verified that this would be a career that is both complimentary to his own skillset and interests.

Coupled with my own experiences and several other interns, it goes without saying that our internships have provided us with critical skills and treasured experiences. With over 36 departments, applicants have a variety to choose from. For students eager to gain experience, and have an invaluable summer with their local government, the PILOT Program is unmatched. The application for the summer of 2023 will be available on the county website this November.

Submitted by Brewster, NY

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