ACPS has partnered with the Urban Alliance, a youth workplace development program, to provide T.C. Williams High School seniors with paid professional internships, workplace readiness training and mentorship through a 10-month program. Interns work at businesses and organizations all across Alexandria including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Grant Thornton, Alexandria Renew and the Alexandria Police Department.
T.C. Williams senior Eddie Amoah has been interning at the USPTO through Urban Alliance since the fall of 2015. He has been working in an Art Unit focusing on E-Commerce patents and security, which has helped fuse his interest in criminal justice with technology security by allowing him to research instances where technology has been used to breach security and identifying the patents used to both commit and solve the crimes. He has also searched for patents that could potentially help solve certain security breach issues in the future.
At T.C. Williams High School, Eddie is involved with JROTC and hopes to enlist in the Army or attend Hampton University upon graduating.
“I like what I do at my job. I take on all tasks given to me with a positive attitude and I enjoy everything my mentor gives me. I believe that the alumni service that Urban Alliance offers will benefit me the most. Urban Alliance is a great way to work on my professional behavior at work. I like the fact that it gives the youth a chance to experience the professional workplace,” Eddie said.
Rachel Clay, a senior at T.C. Williams High School, works in the Office of the Undersecretary, specifically with the Office of Education Outreach.
“To me, Urban Alliance is a great opportunity to develop work skills, as well as to prepare yourself for the working world. I see it benefiting me in the long run because I’m gaining work experience and learning things that can help me in the future,” Rachel said.
Mentors Tanaga Boozer, Chris Dolce, Sue Ann Applewhite and Maridol Garcia-Joy have shared that Rachel is easy to be around, willing to help and respectful. Additionally, her attendance and punctuality have been outstanding. Rachel is interested in pursuing a degree in Communications or Broadcast Journalism following her June graduation.
During her internship, Rachel has helped the team prepare for off-site educational programs, transcribed audio files, organized supplies in the storage room and learned a lot through researching inventors. She is currently helping to plan the USPTO’s first Education Day of the program year, which is an opportunity for Urban Alliance interns and mentors to come together to share experiences and hear about the projects interns have been working on in various departments throughout the USPTO.
T.C. Williams High School senior Nabay Asefa joined Urban Alliance in the fall of 2015 and has been interning with the Office of the Chief Information Officer at the USPTO.
An Ethiopian who has been granted asylum in the United States, he immigrated here four years ago and, as an adolescent, had to adjust to life in Alexandria with his family. During his first two years in the U.S., Nabay struggled with the English language. However beginning in tenth grade, he saw a change in his self-confidence and public speaking ability.
“I can overcome any challenge if I put hard work and determination into it. I am not afraid to ask others for help when I need it and I will keep challenging myself for I learned that it is what makes me a better person,” Nabay said.
While interning at the USPTO, Nabay has learned SharePoint and helped create a site within the USPTO intranet. Through the web development he’s learning with Drupal software and he will be updating the careers page of the USPTO website.
Nabay reflects that working in a professional office has been a learning curve, but the experience has given him the opportunity to learn how to fit into the professional work environment in a safe space. He wants to be a Computer Engineer and is interested in enlisting in the U.S. Army or Airforce.
In 2015, the USPTO and Urban Alliance embarked on a partnership that has since served more than 50 youth through paid, professional internships, many of them from T.C. Williams High School.
6.7 million young people in the United States are out of work and out of school. Urban Alliance and the USPTO are committed to obliterating that statistic through changing the landscape of youth unemployment. Through a model that combines paid professional internships, workplace readiness training and mentoring on the job, youth are empowered to aspire, work and succeed.
Urban Alliance is currently accepting applications for their 2016-17 program year which will begin in September 2016. All rising seniors interested in applying should speak to their counselors and apply online by May 27. Supplementary application materials can also be found online.
Please call 202-459-4300 with any questions about applying for Urban Alliance.