Army Minority College Relations Program-Exceptional Expectations, Extraordinary Effects
July 19, 2010
- MCRP gives young people an opportunity to see how the Army operates, to give them a look at what it takes to support Army soldiers.
- MCRP is revitalizing the Army workforce with an infusion of fresh minds, ideas, and cultural influences.
- MCRP interns get hands-on work experience and establish positive working relationships and networks.
- They expect to improve networking, communication and team-building skills for future career enhancement.
Enthusiastic. Energetic. Friendly. Only six days into their summer internship, these words were used to describe the interns of the Army Minority College Relations Program (MCRP).
"We already feel that this is going to be an exceptional group," said Carmen Ausborn, coordinator of the summer 2010 MCRP contract intern program. "The interns are quickly assimilating to the government work environment and its acronyms. They already are learning to navigate their communities and are finding a myriad of fun things to do in their free time."
"This program is a passion of mine," said Ricky Peer, JMC Co-Chairman for the MCRP. "It gives these young people an opportunity to see how the Army operates, to give them a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to support our soldiers."
"MCRP is helping to revitalize the Army workforce. The Army is benefitting from an infusion of fresh minds, ideas, and cultural influences. It's a win-win situation for the Army and for the minority colleges and students," said Richard Jayne, ASC Co-Chairman.
The Minority College Relations Team (MCRT) has a tradition of excellence that began in 1996. Since 1997, the team's intern program has grown in both spring and summer sessions, currently including 33 interns.
In addition to 16 interns at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., this summer, there are two at Fort Hood, Texas, one at Fort Bragg, N.C., three at Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Iowa, six at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Ind., three at Tooele Army Depot, Utah, and two at Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tenn.
The mission of the MCRT is to develop collaborative programs within the Army Sustainment Command (ASC) and Joint Munitions Command (JMC) that will allow minority institutions to participate in federal programs and therefore enhance the commands' future readiness through these partnerships.
In support of the intern program, Vista Sciences Corporation was awarded a contract from the U.S. Army for the recruitment, administration and logistics support for the student intern program.
Prospective interns go through an entailed application process. As a U.S. citizen, they must be a junior or senior in college, or a very recent college graduate from a minority institution such as a historically black, tribal or Hispanic college or university. They must provide a resume and a transcript to Vista, pass a security check, and only then may be matched to a specific job where they will complete a comprehensive project.
Past projects have included: updating of websites, computer modeling of production lines, performing continuous improvement studies, analyzing command budgets, editing command historical reports, writing articles and speeches for public affairs, completing facility engineering assessments and environment studies, and developing mission-related databases.
The main benefit to MCRP interns is the hands-on work experience in their field of study. In addition, they establish positive working relationships and networks.
Before leaving, the interns receive information on the procedures to apply for government jobs, and on government and corporate resume writing. Each intern conducts an outbrief presenting their own personal and academic background and describes what they learned during the internship.
"The work and life experience gained through the program is invaluable to the interns' futures regardless of their career goals," said Rebecca Peterson, another MCRP coordinator.
All of the interns interviewed expressed similar sentiments. Each one professed excitement about completing their internship, and commented on the value of the work experience to their future studies and careers.
Most of the interns said that they found out about the MCRP internship through their university's career development office or its website.
Brooke Waller, a native of Salisbury, N.C., and a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., heard about the internship by chance from a classmate. Waller said, "I completed an internship last summer in Public Affairs for the North Carolina state treasurer, so I knew I wanted to do another internship with a government entity. This program is exactly what I was hoping for."
The 33 interns work in a great variety of jobs. Waller is working in public affairs at Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, Utah. She works for Tooele's newspaper, the Desert Star, completing story boards, photographing ammunition and writing articles. After graduation, Waller would like to work for the U.S. government as a public affairs officer.
John Graesser, a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, works at Fort Hood in scheduling and planning for the training program for the 407th Army Field Support Brigade. "As a 20- year Army veteran, I feel I have an advantage that most MCRP interns don't have. I know the government acronyms and know what it's like to work for the Army," he said. Graesser graduates in December and would like to be a teacher or work again for the government.
Jasmond Smith, from Little Rock, Ark., is a senior at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Smith said, "I was curious to learn about the business side of the Army."
She's working at the Rock Island Arsenal for JMC in human resources on a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt project slated to improve the hiring process for new employees from the job offer through the first week of employment. "I created a survey and distributed it to new hires and then I will collate their responses. Human resources will use this information to streamline and systematize the hiring process for all JMC employees," Smith added.
Working in ASC at Rock Island Arsenal, Dennis Askew is a native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and is a recent graduate of Howard University, Washington, D.C. Askew said, "I work to support the 401st and 402nd Brigades. In the future, I would like to work in logistics or supply chain management."
Another intern, Carlton Curry from Talladega, Ala., is a senior at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., working in the business development department at Tooele Army Depot. "I'm working on the department's website, making modifications and improvements to its design and making it more user-friendly," Curry said.
Curry had never considered working for the government but now says, "In the future, I would like to serve those who serve our country."
As the MCRP interns know, all work and no play is no fun. As they learn to navigate their new communities, the interns are finding plenty of enjoyable activities in their leisure time. They have been hitting malls and festivals, including the local Gumbo Ya Ya and even the Taste of Chicago.
The Tooele Army Depot interns took a trip to a ski resort where they experienced snow in the summer and took photos of beautiful mountain views. Carlton Curry at Tooele is volunteering at an arts festival this summer and rode on a Tooele Fire Department truck in a Fourth of July parade.
In her free time, Chanale Propst is honing her cooking skills and recently made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for her appreciative roommates. Propst, a native of Salisbury, N.C., and a student at North Carolina A & T State University, is working at Rock Island Arsenal in the JMC resource management directorate.
All of the interns expressed personal and professional expectations of the MCRP program. Personally, most expect to take away an increased sense of personal independence and responsibility, and better time and money management skills.
Professionally, the MCRP interns expect to improve networking, communication and team-building skills. They acknowledge that they are learning how to be professional and disciplined at a job. All mentioned exposure to government employment as a positive for future career enhancement.
With such enthusiasm, energy, friendliness and professionalism, this group of MCRP interns should not be deterred from achieving their own extraordinary expectations.
For more information about MCRP, contact Carmen Ausborn, MCRP Coordinator. She can be reached at (309)782-2927.