Urban Alliance, and I can’t believe I’m doing this

I read the incredibly cheesy portmanteau “Blogust” on Twitter and since it makes much more sense than NaNoBloPo (let’s leave that month to the novel writers, please) and I have a lot to say, I figured I’d take part. We’ll see if this determination lasts past today.

Yesterday was my intern’s last day. Pout. She came to our office through Urban Alliance, which is an a-MAZING program. UA accepts high school seniors with promise (and with enough credits that they can leave school at mid-day), who then spend all of October in what is essentially an extended interview, learning various job and life skills. They get placed with employers at the beginning of November, at which point they work 3 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, and on Friday continue to have workshops. Private sector employers make a contribution to UA to participate in the program, and the students’ wages are paid by UA through those contributions and other fundraising. Over the summer the students work full-time.

The program provides the students with a lot of support in addition to the weekly workshops. They each have a “program coordinator” who is a UA employee who does things like make site visits, help the students with college applications, and be the heavy when there’s a problem between the mentor* and student. UA continues to be involved after the students go to college.

This was my second year as a mentor. I have definitely improved in my supervisory skills, though my extreme distaste for confrontation still holds me back from providing appropriate feedback in a timely manner. I’m getting there.

My intern worked very hard this year; so hard that I’m not sure what we’ll have an intern do next year. My intern did a scanning project making my boss’s OpenLIMS project possible, and more significantly, the links to DC Laws in our open source publication of the D.C. Code. I had anticipated that she would scan much more slowly than she did! She also compiled data into spreadsheets (including information about 1720 Superior Court decisions).

I do have ideas for next year’s intern, if not fully fleshed-out projects. My goal is for him or her to get exposure to computer programs and tools that high school students don’t often use: mail merge, for example, or using a spreadsheet for more than just data entry. If you have ideas of projects or tasks that an ambitious high school senior could do, whether substantively interesting or not, please share in the comments.


* Me! The primary supervisor at the jobsite.

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