Metro Weekly

Interns Get the Job Done

A small investment today may yield benefits well into tomorrow

With Youth Pride Day this Saturday, April 28, and the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CAGLCC) Nonprofit and Association Lunch May 2 focusing on interns, it’s a fine time to spotlight the important role youth play in D.C.’s workplace.

Those who work with interns know there is a certain amount of effort involved in bringing new folks to an organization. You have to train them on the work you do. You have to walk them through work that sometimes takes a little more time to explain than just doing it yourself. But making that effort yields great benefit.

”The more interns you have, and the better their experience is, the more people you have going out into the community being great mouthpieces for your organization,” says Felicia Powers, director of human resources at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. ”Your interns are going to be professionals somewhere – and just because they’re not in your office anymore, that doesn’t mean the relationship ends. Investment in interns is a long-term effort, but so worth it.”

Jeanie Adkins, development manager at Mautner Project (and a member of CAGLCC’s Board) shares a success story demonstrating how internships can also be a great way to make a career transition.

”One of the most rewarding things about my job is giving someone an opportunity to pursue their passion and make a difference. Riana Buford interned with me after realizing broadcasting wasn’t for her,” says Adkins. ”Now she’s our associate for educational programs and is an incredible asset to our team.”

Buford reflects on her journey: ”After graduating from Howard University, I realized television production wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. I wanted to make a difference. I lost my mom in 2010 to breast cancer and decided I wanted to help other people who were dealing with the same thing. Interning at Mautner Project was the perfect fit for me! Thanks to a grant from [the Department of Health], I was eventually hired. I suggest interning at a nonprofit and working your way up, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.”

The Youth Pride Alliance (YPA) is another wonderful resource for youth development. As Jessica Rotem, a YPA board member, says, ”We believe youth engagement is vital to a successful Youth Pride Day and honoring our mission. The youth involved in OSSE’s Youth Advisory Committee harness and develop their inherent leadership qualities to support programming and design of Youth Pride Day. This collaboration provides an opportunity for growth and an enriching alliance for all individuals involved.”

Business owners are also learning the value an intern can bring to the team. Says Ernesto Santalla of Studio Santalla, a boutique architect firm in Georgetown, ”Our firm offers a combination of the services provided by architects and interior designers. As such, the best candidates to join our team are those with the least amount of preconceived ideas, as they are the most adaptable. In mentoring them, I help them develop their unique talents, which in turn, becomes their contribution to the overall work product – a win-win situation.”

If you don’t have an internship program and are interested in building one, or if you have a program but you’d like to strengthen it, consider CAGLCC’s Nonprofit and Association Lunch on Wednesday, May 2. The luncheon features discussion about fitting interns (and volunteers) into long-term management plans, from how to attract and retain interns to managing and utilizing interns effectively.

See Metro Weekly’s guide to Youth Pride online at or visit

The CAGLCC Nonprofit and Association Lunch is May 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel (1143 New Hampshire Ave. NW). Register at

The Chamber means Business. For more information, visit’

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