Norfolk, Virginia (PRWEB) September 18, 2014
“Awesome” is the way Emily W. describes her experience in the START (Smart Teens Accepting Responsibility Today) Internship Program at ARDX (http://www.ardx.net). Her co-interns Stacie D. and Darcy C. describe the program as “Inspirational” and “Life-changing,” respectively. None of these young women had any idea about what they would be doing during their summer internship. Stacie was “expecting to get coffee, do food runs and other mindless tasks,” but, instead she was doing real, meaningful work during her internship. In fact, all three young women said that this internship helped them grow personally and professionally, which are goals of the START Internship program.
START began in 2008 when Angela Reddix, President and CEO of ARDX, sought to give rising high school seniors the opportunity to learn about a profession and help them make informed decisions about their futures. As a corporate citizen, ARDX seeks to give back to the community on a regular basis. START is a paid internship program that seeks to build tomorrow’s workforce by providing students in “at-risk” communities with the opportunity to work in a professional environment that emphasizes these three concepts: planning; communication; and conflict resolution. Students are recruited from local high schools for a 6-week internship program at ARDX. After completing the application process and participating in a formal interview, several students are selected. ARDX Managers submit requests for interns to work with them as part of a professional development program. Areas of interest include accounting, human resources, IT, technical writing and community relations. The START intern’s interests and skills are matched with an ARDX Manager who serves as their internship mentor.
This year’s interns learned about the START program from several sources. Emily W., a rising senior at Granby High School, learned about the program from her technology teacher. Emily is interested in IT, so she was matched up with a mentor in the IT Solutions Division. She had the opportunity to create process documents and investigate automated testing plans. Emily said that her manager gave her a lot of freedom, but also provided guidelines to help Emily move in the right direction. As far as what she enjoys most at ARDX, Emily says she likes the “atmosphere – very friendly and fast paced and people are nice to you.” For Emily, this has been a “great experience and helps to visualize what the workforce is like by doing real things.”
Stacie D. is a rising senior at Booker T. Washington High School who learned about START through her guidance counselor. Stacie has worked primarily with the ARDX Operations Staff and on ARDX’s Healthcare Academy (HCA®) is a which program designed to motivate youth to be engaged in physical activity and focus on nutritious eating habits, leading to healthy weight management and positive self-esteem. START has been a great “learning experience with lots of problem solving” for Stacie and she has “grown a lot from doing substantive work.” She and the other interns bring different perspectives and integrate their ideas to create solutions. The START Internship taught Stacie that the “possibilities are endless.” START showed Stacie that majoring in English (which she intends to do in college) can lead to careers in technical writing or publishing. Stacie says that ARDX “helped me to figure out who I am more than I thought it would and more than any other internship could. I have grown into person I want to be.”
Darcy C. is also a rising senior at Granby High School (though she had never met Emily before START). She learned about START from a flyer posted on the Civics Bulletin Board and took a leap of faith. She has been working in the Community Relations Department, specifically developing an implementation plan for a class being offered through ARDX’s Health Information Resource Center (HIRC). Darcy likes the atmosphere at ARDX and feels the “people are amazing, not only helpful corporate-wise but in trying to help us succeed personally is incredible.” Through START Darcy learned how to carry herself professionally and present herself effectively to people she did not know. Darcy would definitely recommend the program to other rising seniors and says START is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” which should not be passed up.
During their Graduation Ceremony, START interns have the opportunity to present their experiences to the entire company and community representatives. For ARDX, this is confirmation of time and money well spent. The return on investment is that the START interns have developed both personally and professionally while contributing to the departments at ARDX. The interns demonstrated their expertise and agreed that they could never have learned more about themselves at another summer job. That is the goal of START.