Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 23 Becoming “Intern Ready” By ANDREW KNIGHT I’m sure many students have grown weary of hearing the same repetitive advice from teachers and parents: “You need to get an internship before you graduate college!” As a recent college graduate, I too experienced many of the same recommendations from teachers and family members throughout college and understand the pressure many students experience when coaxed into embarking on these highly important, hands-on learning opportunities. However, what is left out in the internship pitch are the steps and skills that one must have to successfully secure these important career-enhancing opportunities. The demand for internships can be incredibly high given their function as a talent pipeline for many sought after organizations, and college students looking to get ahead of the job search often find themselves pitted against a talented pool of candidates all vying for limited openings. For example, when I applied to be a public relations intern at the outdoor apparel company, Patagonia, I figured I would be competing against a handful of other outdoor enthusiasts. As I anxiously waited for the company’s response, I was stunned when an email appeared in my inbox notifying me that I had not received the internship along with the other 9,500 applicants who had all competed for one opening. To help future students be that one in 9,500, here are some tips to help you stand out and secure a quality internship experience in a hypercompetitive internship climate. According to a survey conducted by RVA NOW, a talent retention program created by ChamberRVA, organizations hire interns to gather fresh ideas and for their help on projects and dayto-day work. What does that mean for students interested in an organization’s internship program? Students should be thinking about how they can translate their classroom projects, papers and research into creative ideas for the industry they are pursuing. As you work on your class assignments, it is important to think about how you can communicate each aspect of your work into deliverable skills that translate into a business environment. During an interview, you may be asked to provide examples of campaigns you have worked on in your industry. While campaigns carried out in an organization differ from semester-long projects, the foundational ideas and strategy overlap. For example, my graduate thesis explored how Airbnb uses online communication to build relationships with stakeholders. Although my research project was not implemented by Airbnb, I referenced this project in a job interview and demonstrated that I could apply classroom theories into the context of a company’s public relations efforts. Another great way to add value to an organization and stand out as an intern applicant is to communicate your outside interests and volunteer work. For example, I have always been interested in creating social media content and thrift shopping. During college, I saw a need for a thrift store on my campus and decided to create an Instagram thrift store company called “Knight Trading.” While I only made a few dollars and gained a small number of social media followers, I shared this story during an interview for a public relations firm and ended up securing the job. The hiring team just so happened to love thrifting and appreciated my initiative to connect my interests to a public relations skill, social media strategy. You never know what background the hiring manager comes from and the types of mutual appreciation you might have for a personal hobby. Plan networking early in the application process. Hiring interns can take a lot of time and having your name at the top of a list of potential hires makes intern managers’ jobs much easier. To be an early forerunner, it is important to reach out to companies and organizations that fulfill your interests. Once you reach out, set up a virtual or in-person informational interview. A great door-opener for securing an informational interview at one of your prospective employers is to find an employee on LinkedIn who went to your college and who works at the company with an internship opening. Greetings such as, “Hi, X Person! I see that you also graduated from X college. I am interested in learning more about a career at X company...Would you be willing to set up a time to tell me more about your role and work...” can all serve as great ways to begin the conversation. In my work as the lead for a podcast centered around getting a job after college, a guest on our show shared that many executives are willing to do informational interviews because they remember what it was like to try and secure that first job. Do not be afraid to reach out to leaders at some of the top companies and government agencies, as many of them have empathy for young students eager to begin their first job. While these internship tips should help make the internship search smoother for students, business and government leaders can help ease the burden of finding quality internship programs by working with the state-funded internship initiative, V-TOP, to help create more quality, paid internship opportunities in the Richmond region. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, you can contact Andrew Knight who is a program coordinator at ChamberRVA by email at $171 million to the trust fund. InVirginia, housing trust fund revenue comes exclusively from the state’s general fund, but some other states fund their housing trust funds with dedicated sources of revenue. For example, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia rely on dedicated sources of revenue like fees or taxes from certain real estate transactions to support their affordable housing trust funds. Any strategies pursued by state government to address these housing needs will require an action plan, but Virginia has not consistently identified and planned for statewide housing needs statewide. Such planning is critical to making informed decisions about how and where to deploy available resources. State funding investments in affordable housing should be informed by statewide needs and plans—similar to funding for transportation infrastructure, for example—rather than a collection of locality-specific assessments and plans. Many other states conduct regular evaluations of affordable housing needs and maintain a statewide plan for addressing them. The JLARC report includes 18 recommendations for changing state laws and policies to address affordable housing. These include developing and maintaining a statewide housing assessment and plan to guide Virginia Housing Trust Fund investments, increasing the funds Virginia Housing dedicates to REACH and more strategically using REACH funds to finance multifamily developments, enhancing the assistance Virginia Housing provides to homebuyers, and incentivizing localities to increase the amount of land zoned for multifamily developments. Tracey Smith has worked for JLARC for 20 years and currently serves as one of the agency's Associate Directors. She has a Bachelor's Degree from the College of William and Mary and a Master's Degree from Northwestern University. JLARC Report on Affordable Housing from page 21 V V