Interning with America's Promise Alliance

Summer 2011

Interning for America’s Promise Alliance transcended my belief about what an internship program would entail. I had applied to several different organizations around D.C., but the thing that drew me to APA was the organization’s history. Founded in 1997 with General Colin Powell at the reins, America’s Promise was able to use the political clout that a leader such as Gen. Powell brings to build an organization working tirelessly to promote the promises that every child deserves: Caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to help others. These principles are at the core of America’s Promise Alliance and guide every decision that the organization makes in ensuring that child can and will receive be the recipients of these promises.

From the start, working at APA was far different than what I envisioned the internship would be. Prior to starting the actual internship, I imagined that the days would be filled with doing meaningless tasks on a computer for 8 hours, every day. Happily, this was not the case. Interns are treated as actual members of the organization, assuming responsibilities that entail actual work and individual accountability. The intern program is structured in a way that is mindful of the interns desire to get real-life experience in a workplace, but also the fact that it is summer and should be fun. Throughout the eight week internship, the organization held different events for the interns to participate, ranging from a movie day to a book club to hosting an intern social with other summer interns in D.C. There was an opportunity to live out the focus of the organization through volunteerism opportunities, and interns had the opportunity to attend D.C. events related to education and youth advocacy.

One of the highlights (at least in my mind) of the internship was the chance to participate in State Farm’s “Go to Bat” competition. This eight week contest pits non-profit organizations against each other, with a cash prize of $18,000 awarded to the winning organization after the totals are tallied each week. Participants try to hit home runs in an arcade-themed game, with the organization receiving the highest batting average (i.e. number of home runs) winning for that week. In an effort to ensure that players returned week after week, MLB would award one player from each winning organization two tickets to the 2011 World Series every week. As someone who is a big baseball fan, the opportunity to help out the organization while having the chance to win tickets to the World Series was an amazing opportunity. The competition even became heated in the workplace, as each week the interns and staff of America’s Promise Alliance would list their total home runs for the week on the “All-Star Wall.” The inter-office winner would receive an award from APA, providing all the staff with an extra incentive to go to bat.

I never would have expected to work for an organization that actively promotes its staff to participate in an online computer game, but it something to be expected at America’s Promise Alliance. Everyone works hard and is devoted to furthering the organization’s goal, but the atmosphere is always relaxed. Staff members—regardless of their position or title—are always welcoming whenever someone needs to talk to them or even wants to just have a casual conversation. Approachability is a major factor in ensuring everyone can accomplish their work, and I never had a problem with talked to anyone in the office.

An eight week internship was more than enough time for interns to become attached to their work, their office, and their fellow staff. Many jobs use interns as grunts to fulfill the tasks that no one else wants to do, but America’s Promise Alliance embraces the skills of their interns and puts them in positions for success.