Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative seeks rural entities to host interns

Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative seeks rural entities to host interns

October 27, 2022

The Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative is seeking rural entities to host Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients with meaningful internship experiences. The Rural Internship Initiative offers internships paid for by the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Golden LEAF Scholars are responsible for identifying a site to complete their internship. To support this process, Golden LEAF is gathering information from entities interested in participating in this initiative.

Interested entities may complete this form to communicate their interest in hosting a Golden LEAF Scholar participating in the Rural Internship Initiative. The list of interested entities will be shared with Scholars beginning in fall 2022, as a resource to locate internship sites. Students will be responsible for reaching out to sites from this list. Completing the form does not guarantee that a site will receive an intern.

The Rural Internship Initiative provides eligible Golden LEAF Scholars with professional work experience related to their career field in a rural North Carolina community. The Golden LEAF Foundation provides funding to pay interns $15/hour for up to 400 hours of work. Internships take place over 8-10 weeks, between June and August.

Internship sites that host a Golden LEAF Scholar Intern provide them with a meaningful project or role that aligns with the student’s college major and future career goals. Interns also receive additional leadership training and support from the NC Rural Center throughout the summer.

Internship sites include, but are not limited to, businesses, nonprofits, governmental entities, or companies. Supervisors also commit to reporting on intern performance via bi-weekly surveys as well as mentoring the student on the role, professionalism, and rural community leadership. All participating internship sites will enter a three-party agreement with the Golden LEAF Foundation and a temporary employment agency, which will be the intern’s employer of record and will manage payroll and similar services. 

Mariah Hughes is a Water Resources Program Manager for Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation and Development Council. She was excited to host a Scholar in Madison County.

“Rural communities provide a greater opportunity to meet people at every level of the local government and the professional sector,” said Hughes. “Everyone knows each other and has to treat each other with kindness and respect no matter their differences, because your kids might be in the same class, for example. You can’t be anonymous in a rural community and you can see the fruits of your labor more clearly.”

She said an internship is a great tool for students to be more prepared for the workforce.

“Employers are more interested in candidates that have real work experience in addition to their education,” said Hughes. “If you start your career knowing what minutes are and how a board meeting is run, for example, you will have a leg up. It’s also a great way for students to explore their interests and see if a particular career path is a good fit. The reality of the day to day is a very important understanding to have when choosing a career.”

Hughes shared the difference in what makes a good intern and a great intern.

“A good intern gets the job done and is pleasant to work with,” said Hughes. “A great intern exceeds your expectations, is always professional with a positive attitude, and genuinely interested in the work and the learning experience.”

Randolph Keaton, Executive Director of Men and Women United for Youth & Families in Columbus County, hosted a Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative intern during the summer.

“An internship allows a student the opportunity to get practical, hands-on, real-life experience in the fields that he or she has interest in,” said Keaton. “The Rural Internship Initiative is an opportunity to come back to your own community and assist in addressing some of our most pressing needs here in our rural communities.”

Keaton says that a great intern displays a desire to learn from others and is willing to take on new challenges. He also shared some wisdom on securing an internship.

“Do your research, find an organization that matches your interests and needs,” said Keaton. “Reach out to the organization and express an interest in their work.”

Gwen Fowler-Berken is a Speech Language Pathologist and the President of Gwen’s Speech Therapy in Macon County. She also hosted an intern through the Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative.

“The intern I had learned the daily operations of a small speech therapy practice including billing, referrals, communication with physicians, as well as dealing with insurance companies, clients and their families,” said Fowler-Berken. 

Fowler-Berken said her intern did a great job.

“My intern was motivated to learn as much as she could about the business and rural community we serve,” said Fowler-Berken. “She had great communication with me and my staff which is a very good asset to have in the speech office.”

Fowler-Berken is excited about the future of students who have rural internships.

“Students benefit from seeing the impact rural clinics have on their communities,” said Fowler-Berken. “My hope for rural North Carolina is that more people would enjoy working in rural areas, like my intern.”

Golden LEAF is looking for interested entities for the summer 2023 cohort of Rural Internship Initiative interns. If your rural entity has interest in hosting an intern, fill out the Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative: Internship Site Interest Form found at the bottom of the page. Internship selections will be announced in mid-April 2023.

If you have any questions, please contact Arlena Ratliff, Golden LEAF Scholarship Program Manager at [email protected].

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