Volunteer: Maria Kordonchik

We’re celebrating our volunteers during National Volunteer Week! Meet Maria, current volunteer and former PENCIL student, pictured above working in a classroom at PS 226. One of her favorite things about volunteering is that she can help students knock down barriers by exposing them to fundamental business concepts and showing them the power of building lasting relationships. Thank you to Maria and to all our partners and volunteers!

Interested in volunteering with PENCIL? Our next opportunity is coming up with Principal For A Day (and include registered mark) on May 8th. Find out more and get signed up, here!

Name: Maria Kordonchik
Occupation/Place of Employment: Associate at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.


How did you first become engaged with PENCIL?
I attended a PENCIL career readiness workshop held at my high school. At the end of the workshop, the instructor shared an opportunity for a summer internship. I applied that same week and the rest is history.

How old were you when you became part of the PENCIL Fellows program (now our Internship Program)?

What motivated you to get involved as a student?
More than anything, I was eager to uncover what the future had in store for me. It was only logical to start my journey by exploring how my talents and interests could be applied towards solving real world problems. I knew that the internship would lay a foundation for something bigger and was excited to expand my horizons.

What did having an internship mean to you at that time and how do you think it helped connect you to later professional success?
Having an internship at such a young age was both eye-opening and exhilarating. I discovered which industries I was interested in and started to build my professional network early on. The experiences I was exposed to influenced me throughout my college years and beyond, and the relationships I built continue to have a large impact on my life today.

As an adult, what made you want to become a PENCIL volunteer?
When I reflect on my time as a PENCIL student, I see it as a gift that keeps on giving. Several years after completing my internship, I felt compelled to share this gift with others. To me, volunteering with PENCIL meant making a lasting impact on someone’s life. It was (and still is!) an opportunity to facilitate learning in a dynamic environment and to provide students with a sustainable framework for success.

How long have you been a PENCIL volunteer?
About 4 years

What do you like best about your volunteer work with PENCIL?
The kids we work with are excited about learning. They have big dreams and aspirations but may be limited by circumstances outside of their control. As a PENCIL volunteer, I can help them knock down barriers by exposing them to fundamental business concepts and showing them the power of building lasting relationships.

Any words of advice for students thinking about their careers or considering summer internships?
Obtaining an internship is the most valuable step you can take towards achieving your career goals. A summer internship will not only change how you approach your career but will also shape the choices you make as a college student. Regardless of where you intern, you will come away with a better understanding of yourself and the world around you.

What would you say to other companies thinking about taking on student interns?
Just do it! In my experience, PENCIL interns go above and beyond to excel in their internships. They want to be there, and they are excited to get their hands dirty. As the hiring company, that’s exactly what you want to be looking for. Don’t let their young age disparage you from unleashing their full potential and recognizing the value they can bring to your team.

Any additional thoughts on your experience?
Working with PENCIL has been incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally. Having been on both sides of a PENCIL partnership – as an intern and as a volunteer – I can say with certainty that PENCIL delivers maximum impact to every community it serves, and I am excited to see where this journey takes us.