When I saw Philip Rucker’s piece, "Economy Slices into Internship Programs," in the Washington Post, it really hit home for me. I’m currently an intern with Urban Alliance (also a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation), and I saw the impact of the economic downturn on the program firsthand.
By joining the Urban Alliance foundation during the summer of my junior year, I became one of the lucky ones promised a job. My summer days were spent working full time in one of the offices owned by Sonnenschein Law firm. The experience was wonderful and the pay not only pleased me, but also my mother, who could spend her earnings on other household necessities without worrying about having to set aside funds for my own personal summer activities.
When the last day of summer work came to an end, I was informed that I would begin my fall internship mid-September. But, somehow between mid-August and the time the time I was supposed to resume work, troubles began.
Weeks continued to go by throughout the fall, and as I saw new interns with their starting dates and job sites, I realized that I still did not receive mine. Finally, I received a call saying that I should report to Washington Area Women’s Foundation at 2:00 p.m. on November 10, 2008–two months after what my initial start date was meant to be.
While reading the Washington Post article suggested to me by my mentor, Lisa Kays, at The Women’s Foundation, I later found out that the reason for my delayed job site was not only due to poor organization skills, but also the economy’s falling. I was one of the lucky ones who was promised and job and actually received one.
Several students were turned down from the organization after months of training because businesses in the Washington area simply cannot afford interns. Fannie Mae, which is where several of my peers worked this summer, took on no interns this fall season. I know this internship meant a lot to the students, especially with the overwhelming expenses of senior year: class fees, trips, prom, spending funds, and other items that express school spirit like year books, hoods, shirts, etc.
During this time every little cent counts.
Being a part of the Urban Alliance family, above anything else, has given me great experiences, memories and opportunities. I have had the chance to work in bigger office spaces where you e-mail more to communicate, and I have also had the chance to work in smaller office spaces where people are more warming to you, which is where I am currently working now.
I know that both experiences will help me through my college years and also my working years.
I am very thankful to have been chosen for this, and only wish that those who were not could have experienced it as well. It is truly a shame that they could not.
Tia Felton is a senior at McKinley Tech High School and an intern at The Women’s Foundation through Urban Alliance. When she graduates from high school this year, she hopes to go to college and eventually to become a lawyer.
To learn more about the Urban Alliance internship program, click here.