The program has continued through pandemic, with facets of remote work
Henrico County is preparing a robust internship program for the summer after opportunities were somewhat limited during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the number of internships is not yet finalized, the county expects to offer positions with a variety of departments and has begun posting them online. Applications will close in late February through mid-March for internships beginning in May.
The program, which offers work opportunities for pay and course credit, typically peaks in summer, when many high school and college students are looking to explore careers and bolster their résumés.
Henrico limited its program for much of the pandemic, bringing in nearly 20 interns this summer and fall. The total for the upcoming spring has not been finalized.
“The internships have not stopped,” said Debbie Lumpkin, who coordinates the program for the Department of Human Resources. “We have had almost a dozen this fall, and we are moving forward with plans for the spring.”
Internships already posted or planned for the summer include positions with the Victim/Witness Assistance, Energy Management and Community Corrections programs, as well as the Department of Finance, Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services and the Department of Public Utilities’ Water Reclamation Facility and Wastewater Treatment Plant. Additional internships will be posted as plans are finalized.
Like most employers, Henrico has altered its working conditions during the pandemic to protect the health and well-being of its employees. Most interns continue to work from county offices or job sites, with facets of remote work. As a precaution, interns also have gone through their orientation process individually, rather than as a group.
“We’re adapting our onboarding process for them,” Lumpkin said. “It’s unfortunate, because they’re missing out on the interconnections they’d be making with the other interns.”
The pandemic also has impacted the opportunities that are available. Some departments have scaled back or suspended their hiring of interns, but others have embraced the extra help. The Office of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety, for example, has welcomed more interns to support its efforts in community outreach and employee health due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 did bring in some opportunities where they didn’t exist prior,” Lumpkin said.
The internship program recently passed a milestone – its 500th intern. A total of 503 interns have now worked with 25 departments and agencies since 2013.
The internship program also notched another achievement when a pair of Henrico County Public Schools graduates were hired to full-time positions with the county. Clayton Fuhrman and Zane Schultz are among 58 former interns who accepted permanent positions with Henrico’s general government or school system following a competitive hiring process.
Fuhrman was hired this spring as a fire mechanic with Central Automotive Maintenance, which maintains all county vehicles and other motorized equipment. He interned with the Department of General Services during his junior and senior years while studying diesel mechanics at the Career & Technical Education Center (CTE) at Hermitage High School.
Schultz, an intern this past summer with the Department of Information Technology, was hired in September as a Help Desk administrator.
While an internship is no guarantee of future employment, Lumpkin said Fuhrman’s and Schultz’s success demonstrate the value of the county’s close coordination with the CTE program.
“Their educations, partnered with the internships, allowed them to use the skills they had and enhance what they learned in school,” she said.
All Henrico County internships are or will be posted online. To review the internships, search under the keyword “intern.” For more information about the program, go to henrico.us/services/internship.