By Jim Durrett, President of Buckhead Coalition and Executive Director of Buckhead Community Improvement District
“Atlanta’s young people are our future. Continuing to invest in future generations puts them on pathways to success that will help us Move Atlanta Forward, together. As Mayor, I’m committed to making Atlanta the best place in the country to raise a family.” – Mayor Andre Dickens via the ATL Year of the Youth website
In January, Mayor Andre Dickens announced that 2023 would be the Year of the Youth in Atlanta. He issued a call to Atlanta residents, community members, faith leaders and supporters to partner with the City to ensure that youth have the tools and resources they need to thrive.
The Buckhead Coalition heard that call from the Mayor directly during his keynote at our annual luncheon. Coalition members immediately responded to the challenge, recognizing an opportunity to support Mayor Dickens during his second year in office and, more importantly, to provide learning opportunities by offering summer internships to Atlanta Public School (APS) students.
APS identified students who would be well-suited for the opportunity, and the Coalition worked to place them with one of five companies: BIP Ventures, Dorsey Alston, Aon, Transwestern and Inspire Brands. Internships varied based on the students’ interests and the workplaces where they were placed, but the common thread connecting them all was an enthusiasm for learning.
“BIP Ventures is a team of people with wide-ranging professional experiences who have joined this company because of a shared passion for building and investing in innovation and entrepreneurs,” said Mark Buffington, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of BIP Ventures. “When I heard about the internship program, I was excited about the chance to introduce a young person to a workplace where they could see how many skill sets fit together to fuel collaboration and progress that is changing how we all live and work with technology.”
Student interns have worked side-by-side with Buckhead business leaders, gaining invaluable experience and learning about potential career paths that they might otherwise never have known about or considered. They have joined executive-level meetings, conducted sales research, created marketing materials and learned how to operate in a professional work environment.
For some interns, stepping out of their comfort zones and talking to new people was one of the biggest challenges and most rewarding experiences. “My advice to future interns is to not be scared to socialize,” said Dorsey Alston intern Alana. “Also, learn as much as you can.”
Dorsey Alston, which hosted three interns, provided students a chance to learn practical skills such as Adobe InDesign, which an intern used to create real estate marketing flyers. Other Dorsey Alston interns focused on real estate sales and management, and back-office administration and operations.
“We wanted to give our interns a good understanding of the various components that must work together to support successful agents and an ever-growing and evolving company,” said Michael Rogers, CEO and President of Dorsey Alston. “We always have our eye on the next generation workforce, so it’s critical not only to get these students plugged into our industry and our corporate culture, but for Dorsey Alston to learn from them as well. We appreciate their contributions, their energy and their ideas.”
Reaching the next generation workforce was part of Aon’s rationale for participating in the internship program as well. “Careers in risk management and insurance have been one of the best kept secrets in our society, and we are focused on bringing our industry to the mainstream,” said Darryl Dortch, Vice President of Media & Entertainment for Aon. “The youth internship program afforded us the opportunity to gain more exposure, and it aligned perfectly with our initiative to foster the next generation of leaders within our industry.”
I’m extremely grateful to the members of the Buckhead Coalition who enthusiastically welcomed these students into their businesses this summer. Like Mayor Dickens’ Year of the Youth initiative itself, these internships are likely to bear fruit for many years to come.