Campus Alamance hosts kick-off for second cohort of interns

Over 70 employers and Elon student interns gathered at McKinnon Hall for the kick-off event for the Campus Alamance program.

Dozens of Elon students and representatives from community employer partners gathered in McKinnon Hall on Wednesday, June 1, to kick off the second cohort of the Campus Alamance initiative. Campus Alamance is intended to be a pipeline for talent in the Alamance area by connecting Elon’s diligent students with the university’s various partners in the community.

“Somebody helped me along the way, so this is a way of giving back and helping students get to experience what real work is like,” said Frances Lee, human resources manager with GKN Driveline in Mebane. “I think it’s good to partner and get involved with the local community. I see it as a win-win for both parties.”

Campus Alamance is an eight-week paid internship program for Elon students with local businesses and organizations from June 1 through July 27.

Trevor Molin ’23, a political science major, is one of the 40 students participating in the Campus Alamance second cohort. He will intern with Benevolence Farm, one of 28 employers participating in Campus Alamance this year. Benevolence Farm is a fully functioning farm and residential program in Graham that employs formerly incarnated women with the premise of giving second chances.

Molin saw working for Benevolence Farm as a way to gain invaluable experience, while also stepping outside of the “Elon bubble.”

“I think being on the ground, especially in Alamance County, which is so different from our campus, will offer a lot to help me understand the situation better in a literal way,” Molin said.

Ahead of this summer, it was announced that 35 student slots would be available for the second year of Campus Alamance. However, with accommodations made for 40 students, Campus Alamance has made a significant leap from its first-year cohort of 14 students.

Robin Kazmarek, director of internships for Elon College, The College of Arts and Sciences, attributes that growth to more people within the Alamance community becoming aware of the talent Elon students have to offer and students are now opening themselves to the breadth of opportunities available to them.

“We’ve definitely found a way to address an expressed desire of partners in the community,” Kazmarek said, who helped organize the program. “What I think is also amazing – the students in this room come from all different majors and different schools at the university. It’s meeting a broad need across the university, and we are super excited about being able to provide that opportunity for our students and employers.”

The 28 employer partners include the Burlington Sock Puppets, Chandler Concrete and Habitat for Humanity of Alamance County, among others.

One of the employer representatives, Rob Cockman, a branch associate with Milestone Wealth Management, said that they’ve had Elon student interns for several years before the Campus Alamance program.

Cockman doesn’t think of what Milestone does as helping students, but more as a partnership to give them experience in what could potentially be their career field. And if even a student does the internship and realizes it’s not for them, there is value in that as well, he says.

“I think it’s really important to try different things and say, ‘if I do financial services over the summer and I find that that’s not the fit for me then I haven’t put a lot of time and effort into a job that I’m not passionate about,’” he said. “I think that’s beneficial for students.”

Majoring in public health studies and minoring in human service studies, Sophie Padalecki ‘23 will spend the eight-week program working with Alamance Community College. Padalecki has an on-campus job with Campus Recreation and Wellness focusing on program planning, and her internship with ACC will have a similar focus.

Although she’s uncertain of what exactly her future holds, she knew Campus Alamance would be a great way to explore program planning in a more involved way while being directly involved in the community.

“I could’ve gotten a random job at a coffee shop, but I really like that this is hands-on with the Elon community, the Alamance community,” Padalecki said. “I like that everyone here is excited to work together rather than just having a job, clocking in and clocking out.”

At the kick-off event, the employers and students were split and given presentations on how both parties can make the forthcoming eight weeks as enriching as possible.

Tyronna Hooker G’09 speaks with students on how to make the most of their internship experience.

Tyronna Hooker G’09, executive director of Alamance Achieves, prompted the students to focus on providing their temporary employers with a different outlook on how to confront problems.

“What I would ask you to do is, number one, consider how do I make sure that this agency values me and what I’m offering. And number two, is what I’m offering going to change outcomes?” Hooker told the students. “Listen to understand, be curious before you’re furious, ask the right questions and make sure that you’re aligned with the vision and mission of your organization.”