High school seniors across the country have seen their final year of secondary education come to an abrupt end. Classes are online, prom is canceled, and graduation ceremonies are up in the air. Even companies are ending coveted senior-year and summer internships that many students depend on for experience, resume-building and a paycheck, according to TechCrunch.
HumRRO did not want the same fate for its high school intern, Foziya Mohammed, a senior at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. Interning since November through a partnership with Urban Alliance, a national youth development nonprofit, Mohammed will continue working from home, gaining valuable work experience and skills, as well as a paycheck, until the internship’s original end date in July.
“The Urban Alliance High School Internship Program has been a rewarding and valuable partnership for HumRRO,” said Suzanne Tsacoumis, Ph.D. president and CEO. “We certainly didn’t want to see it cut short and lose Foziya’s contribution because of the Covid-19 restrictions.”
To help contain the spread of the virus, HumRRO began encouraging all employees to work from home in early March, and that included Mohammed. In fact, nearly all 80 seniors who are participating in the program from Alexandra, Arlington and Fairfax have transitioned to telework arrangements with their employers, according to Urban Alliance NoVA.
“Working from home was weird at first, but I got used to it quickly,” Mohammed said. Urban Alliance matched her with HumRRO because she expressed an interest in psychology. “I had never heard of industrial-organizational psychology before coming to work at HumRRO,” she said. “I’ve since learned so much about I-O psychology and all the different careers I could pursue in it.”
LaVonda Murray, administrative coordinator at HumRRO, serves as Mohammed’s mentor and oversees her work and training. Mohammed works four days a week, three hours a day, completing a variety tasks assigned by Murray and HumRRO researchers. Her scope of work hasn’t changed; only the way it’s delivered. Murray set up a Google Docs folder to share files, so that Mohammed could continue formatting employee resumes, adding newsletters to a searchable database and properly citing research in white papers using APA style.
“I’ve learned so much from HumRRO about working in a professional office,” said Mohammed. “I’ve improved my skills in Microsoft Word and Excel, and in APA style as opposed to MLA. From Urban Alliance and HumRRO, I am learning how to build my resume, create a good LinkedIn profile, write cover letters, and practice interviewing and networking.”