Our office has been busier than usual this summer as 10 young adults worked with us as interns: The BID served as a host site for the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, and it collaborated with the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) and the Career Ready Internship Program facilitated by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to provide meaningful and constructive work experiences for youth ages 18 to 24.
Participants received training and guidance as they developed positive work habits and critical skill sets necessary for future employment. Individuals worked in various BID departments, including Operations, Marketing and Communications, Events, Finance, and the Downtown Day Services Center.
“When I think about the future of downtown, our city’s young people are a central part of that future,” said Gerren Price, president and CEO of the DowntownDC BID. “It has been amazing to watch our interns engage deeply in our day-to-day work while also weighing in on some of the biggest challenges facing our city at this time and exploring all that downtown has to offer firsthand. These kinds of work experiences are so important to a young person’s future career path, which is why we look forward to participating as an employer in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program each year.”
The DowntownDC BID has hosted interns for more than 15 years. Not only do these young adults work with our departments and teams, but they also learn soft skills to prepare them for the future — and they also get to enjoy downtown and other locations through group visits that also include lunch. This year, that meant weekly trips to the following destinations:
- Planet Word
- The Escape Game
- Waterfront Cruise
- National Building Museum
- Spy Museum
Darius Young, who entered the program excited to meet people and gain experience, was surprised at just how fun the experience could be. “I would definitely recommend this experience to my friends. I would say this is a chance to gain working experience, meet new people, and have fun while doing it,” he said.
Sydney Leak has been able to work with the Events team, just the kind of work she wants to pursue in the future. “My favorite part was partaking in the Kids World event,” she said. “I also loved the Thursday field trips because they gave me the opportunity to travel and see D.C. in a different light.”
Logan Lockley is working with Sydney in events, as she also was seeking a deeper understanding of what goes into planning them. “What has been most surprising to me is the amount of spreadsheets that goes into planning an event. The number of small details that you wouldn’t think anyone would think of is on that spreadsheet. It was most surprising, but the most useful tool that I will take away with me from this amazing experience is to keep everything organized and in a spreadsheet,” she said. “I would definitely recommend a friend to intern with the Events team at the DowntownDC BID. I would tell them this is an opportunity you can’t let bypass you. The deep dive into the life of an events planner is very busy, which will keep you on your toes.”
Curtis Cooks was excited about doing the summer program, and he was even more excited when he learned he would be returning to his role from last year at the BID. “What has been a surprise is making new friends and then working with them. My favorite part about the summer at the BID was at the Planet Word museum when my friends and I were having fun and joking around.”
Participants also have Life Lesson Tuesdays, where each week the group discusses various personal and/or professional skills, such as communication, budgeting, or how to buy a car. “I really enjoyed the life lessons that we learned, like how to write a resume, because these skills are essential for our careers and just life in general,” said intern Kingston Fuller. “I would recommend this experience to my friends: I would tell them that not only do they get to learn more about the businesses and culture of downtown D.C., but they also get to have some job experience with a vital company. Also, I would tell them about the excursions that we did, which were fun experiences where we got to build bonds with other interns.”
“The Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program is an optimal opportunity for businesses and organizations to mentor, teach, and train young adults and is critical to the pipeline of employment for D.C. residents,” said Ebony Walton, associate director of stakeholder engagement at the BID. “Many of us have walked similar paths and progressed because someone invested time and attention.”