Professionally Developing Students Through Internships

by Anastasia Branch, Summer Intern, Department of Human Resources

As summer comes to a close, Henrico County’s internship program has successfully hosted high school and undergraduate students this summer leading to the County being recognized as a 2023 Top Virginia Employer for Interns. 

Under the guidance of Debbie Lumpkin, Internship Program Coordinator, the program began in the summer of 2012. Since then, the number of students participating in Henrico internships has increased exponentially yearly. This year, interns have come from as near as local Henrico high schools to as far as universities across the East Coast. 

The internship program is about giving students “opportunities to open their eyes to the ways in which county employees serve the community,” said Mrs. Lumpkin. “I always recommend to a student that the more you put in, the more you get out,” she said.  The program focuses on “teaching people how to work, what is expected at work, [and] how to communicate,” among many other skill sets. 

Interns work on various projects within their departments while gaining professional business skills. David Sacks, Community Development Manager, explains how his interns participate in the office. It is “very common for interns to develop the annual action plan,” and “we’ll have an intern working with us to develop the annual report.” The intern’s role is to manage the department throughout these projects. “I teach them to be a project manager,” said Mr. Sacks.

In the County Manager’s office, intern Sincere Slade-Reading, has had the chance to explore multiple avenues of work. She explained that her typical day could consist of “brainstorming with deputy county managers, spending time in the Varina community with Supervisor Nelson, attending committee meetings, or researching solutions to Henrico issues.” Throughout the summer, “the ability to advocate for myself, manage projects, and form connections that … will not only make me a better student but also put me ahead in my planned future career in law,” said Ms. Slade-Reading.

Chance Phillips, the budget office’s intern, echoed these sentiments. He said, “I’ve definitely had and appreciated the opportunity to develop my professional communication skills and the general skills and habits required to work in an office environment.” In addition to his strengthened skillsets, Mr. Phillips said he “enjoyed the ability to become acquainted with everyone working in the Budget office the most.”

The internship program provides a space for interns and supervisors to engage and create connections. Senior Victim Specialist Nicole Mayton was once a County intern herself and said that the program is “a chance to see different perspectives.” While hosting students, “I enjoy being able to share with interns and like to see them learn … and see how it impacts them,” she said.

In many departments, this summer has been filled with meaningful learning for interns and supervisors. Now is the time to start thinking about your workload, projects, and ability to mentor a student for upcoming semesters. Please submit your request to Debbie Lumpkin by September 30 for spring 2024 interns and by December 1 for summer 2024 interns.