ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – One First Army deputy director called the organization’s interns “First In Deed,” a reference to the unit’s motto.
“One thing the interns are bringing is diversity,” said Ron Coney, First Army deputy director of physical security and military intelligence. Coney also serves as chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce.
In conjunction with the Minority College Relations Program, First Army headquarters is hosting six summer interns for 10 weeks. The program aims to assist minority students with securing paid internships and jobs.
The students are majoring in such fields as multimedia communications, industrial technology, cybersecurity, and computer engineering. They were placed where their skill sets fit best, be it public affairs, information technology, physical security, or military intelligence. They are helping contribute to First Army, whose mission is to mobilize, validate, deploy, and train members of the Army National Guard and United States Army Reserve for deployment.
While the age difference between the interns and staff is substantial, the combination has been a winning one.
“We’re bringing younger people to First Army and we have an opportunity to mentor them," Coney said. “They make us take a look at ourselves and how we are organized. We don’t have a lot of young people in this organization.”
So far, the students are enjoying their experience. Ton’nyce LaGrone, an industrial technology major from Pine Bluff, Ark., said, “All of the staff are open to mentoring and guiding me along the way and making sure I don’t feel uneased.”
Oronde Henderson, computer science major from Jonesboro, Ga., said, “I’ve only been here for a week, and I already feel a part of the family”.
“This experience will help me gain background knowledge in the federal government and will help me continue a career here,” added Michael Quinones, a computer engineering major from Puerto Rico.
All of the interns hope to apply the skills learned during the internship to a future employment in their chosen fields. They are eager to acquire knowledge and gain more skill for their future positions, according to Mykelamike McClure, an industrial technology system specialist with First Army.
“They are like sponges. They soaking up everything around,” McClure said. “Every intern asks me questions, is attentive, and is hungry to learn.”