If you've swung by the Chamber offices in the last week of June or first few weeks of July, chances are, you may have seen me around - the fabled summer intern. I have been able to spend a few informative weeks learning the ins and outs of the Arlington business community and serving it through this opportunity, which I got via the Arlington Public Schools PRIME internship program. PRIME interns are APS rising juniors and seniors who are paired with a local workplace that lines up with their career and college interests. Explaining that I have an interest in studying communications and some nonprofit experience, I was sent here by PRIME-to a business organization that I didn’t know existed prior to this summer. But it was quite a summer! Allow me to tell you about some of the things I learned, and why it’s a good idea for YOU to consider taking on an intern one day.
The first thing I learned is what a Chamber actually does, and why a business would elect to join one. I have to say, I am impressed. I am impressed at the Chamber’s personal dedication to their members and promoting a healthy business climate in the county. The feeling I got from attending the July Breakfast Connection, where I met a lot of great members, and my time here in general, is that with the Chamber, you really have a team behind you - and many great opportunities to meet other enthusiastic members.
I also learned about doing business in Arlington. As an Arlington native, I have loosely kept up with the various government initiatives and issues that have caused clashes over the years, but this job allowed me to get a unique perspective on them. I am definitely leaving with a renewed understanding of the nuances of running a business in our county. Arlington may be small, but it packs a mean punch.
Another thing I picked up a lot on at the Breakfast Connection is that networking is truly the bread and butter of making business and career connections. That morning, I plunged headfirst into shaking hands and harvesting a bumper crop of business cards, a fairly new experience for me, but a rewarding one. I definitely felt more comfortable by my internship’s end with introducing myself and explaining my role here, which I think is incredibly valuable.
You, and Your Intern?
Reading this, you might be thinking, wow, I should to get myself one of these strapping young people to help me, especially if they’re as witty as the Chamber’s one this summer. And I’m here to tell you that getting an intern, whether through a program like PRIME or your own personal listings or outreach, is a great idea. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, so long as both parties treat each other with respect and learn from one another.
Interns can be young (high school - college, generally), but we have a lot of great insight. Hiring a motivated, hardworking young person allows them to learn about your company, how a workplace works, and gives them perspective on their future career prospects, as well as some great experience for their resume. And you, in turn, get some free labor, a fresh set of eyes, and someone who most likely has lots of skill with things like social media and computer proficiency (invaluable in this day and age). It’s always good to make a connection with a younger person who still has a whole career ahead of them. I certainly know I’ll be taking a lot of the experiences, skills, and connections I learned here with me in the future!