Marga Fripp, one of my mentors and long time friends, once mentioned to me if I ever needed interns, I could find them through the Washington Center. I heard so many good things about their program, so I felt it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. Since 2012, I decided to pursue the opportunity once more and host interns from the Washington Center and it’s something I have never regretted. Looking back now, I wish I had the privilege to participate in a program that offers such great opportunities. They match all of their students accordingly with internships respective to their area of study.
Last summer, for the first time, I welcomed two amazing students, Jordan Rose of the University of South Florida and Justine Laflamme of Concordia University – Montreal Quebec.
For Jordan, it was the first time he would work in an office environment. As he mentioned, he preferred to work with a small company where he could probably do more than he could at a multinational corporation, where sometimes you perform the same repetitive tasks on a daily basis. At Evelyn Brooks Designs, let’s put it this way: we multitask every day like in any entrepreneur business.
Justine Laflamme – Concordia University – Montreal, Quebec
“I found Evelyn Brooks very inspiring. She made her way from Peru to here and she worked very hard to get where she is right now. It was a pleasure to promote her handmade jewelry because they are rich with culture, meaning and are also very inspiring.”
Justine was the driving force behind a blog campaign promoting EBD demonstrating how to wear different jewelry pieces with specific outfits. She also was a model for the ad!
Justine also taught me many lessons about make up tips for a mompreneur that are easier because of being quick, like how to curl your lashes without a spoon just with your mascara or how to soften your hands with a quick, homemade sugar & olive oil scrub. She also wanted to work on strenghtening her Excel skills, so we worked on a budget spreadsheet together.
Jordan Rose – University of South Florida
“I loved working for EBD because Evelyn is so kind-hearted yet knowledgable that she really makes you feel comfortable in your work environment. I learned a lot from working there. I also think it’s very beneficial to work directly with the owner of the company since you can learn from her success and not from an employee who is simply showing you how to do something. Something else I really liked was Evelyn told me what she needed done, but also let me put my own creative twist on it and work independently rather than making me do it her way or the highway.”
Jordan helped in different areas like social media, creating blogs and designing our fall catalog, but I think that one of the most amazing experiences was his special assignment to style CNN presenter Maria Cardona, who wanted to wear Evelyn Brooks Designs for a special interview with Latino Magazine.
I was traveling in Peru and I got a tweet from Maria asking me to wear my jewelry for her photoshoot, and guess what? The photoshoot was going to take place within two hours. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to get a hold of Jordan and my husband. My husband drove from Alexandria to DC to bring the jewelry pieces to Jordan. Jordan happened to be a couple blocks from the office of Maria Cardona and arrived with pieces ready to accesorize her 30 minutes prior to the photoshoot. Once again, I must say that when things are meant to happen, they happen and nobody can change them.
CNN Political Contributor Maria Cardona wearing EBD for the cover of LATINO Magazine with Republican Alex Castellano
John Ozel – Dickinson University
“My experience has been and eye opening & extremely rewarding. I have grown professionally and I now feel I am ready for the working world. The various tasks I was faced with during this semester have forced me to act independently with a high sense of responsibility. EBD has challenged me in numerous ways which will only aid to my future success. Being a small family company helps interns to maximize the benefits that they gain from the company, because they are busy most of the time. EBD is not a place to spend time, but it is a place where interns help the company to improve in different ways.”
John was the last intern that I hosted from the Washington Center. One of the most memorable things he said to me was: “I just want my parents to feel proud of me when I graduate, because of all they invested in me and have done for me after all these years.” Now that I have two kids, I truly hope that when my kids grow they think about all the things we do as parents to provide the best for them.
With my interns, sometimes I feel like a mom and I want to protect them from things that could happen to them in the future. I share with them my many experiences, since I never had the opportunity to learn about the real world while I was studying.
One of my interns once shared with me how much they hated going to classes. “They don’t teach you the real world stuff, they teach what is in the books.” That comment must have some truth in its statement, which is why I proudly continue to welcome the involvement of interns at my business.
They all have a special place in my heart. They have also helped me grow personally and professionally. Every one of them took their internships very seriously. I could see it when they always arrived on time, dressing appropiately with good manners. Quite often, applicants for a job or an internship don’t understand the importance of proper business attire and etiquette, but as my mother said, you always have to look presentable because you never know who you might meet. Oftentimes, I hear that in the back of my head because it indeed happens.
I miss them dearly, but I know they have to fly and fly high to reach for the stars. As we work together, we relate and become a family, which is why it is always so hard to see them go. I appreciate all they have done for me and the better of my company and I wish them the very best in their endeavors. I know they all have brilliant futures in the coming years. But I also have to remind them that I will always be here for them whenever they need me.
Being an intern with Evelyn Brooks Designs is like being in an episode of Start-Ups. You never know how the day will be. We may have plans scheduled, but if an opportunity comes up, we have to prioritize.
For instance, in Jordan’s case, plans changed with very little notice and in a matter of a couple of hours, he was suddenly in charge of a photoshoot.
Or in John’s case, he unexpectedly assummed the role of nanny, while I was busy in the middle of a TV interview. My son woke up crying from his nap, so I had to ask John, “Could you please change his clothes, so my husband can pick him up while we finish the interview?” This was unexpected, but in the life of a mompreneur, we face challenges and unexpected things everyday, right?
I want to end this post by thanking the Washington Center for the partnership we have built in the past year helping students learn more about the real business world.