My Internship with CentroNia Family Center in Washington DC


Name: Keenan Thompson

Major: Public Relations and Political Science double major

Where did you intern? I interned at CentroNia Family Center in Washington, DC.
CentroNía, is a nationally recognized, award-winning educational organization which provides affordable, quality early childhood education; professional development to educators; and family support services in a bilingual and multicultural environment to more than 2,400 low-income children and families.

What did you do there?
My duties included creating, planning and executing weekly events for the parents and children at CentroNia. I created a monthly newsletter for all of the families so they could stay informed on all of our past and upcoming events. I attended monthly community engagement meetings with several organizations around Washington DC, along with DC Health and the Department of Education. I worked on entering information for over 300 families into the COPA (software). I became certified in safe sleep training, which educates new or expecting parents on the proper ways of keeping their newborns safe by reducing the potential of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Last, but not least, I traveled to collect diapers, books, female products, baby formula, etc., all for all the families at our location.

How did you get your internship?
I received this internship opportunity from The Washington Center. They have a student portal where you apply, interview, and then receive internship offers from various companies and organizations. From there, I was contacted by the CentroNia Family Center director for an interview. After that, my soon-to-be supervisor contacted me a few weeks later to offer me this internship opportunity.

What projects did you work on?
I planned and ran our Father’s Day event. This event was for all of the fathers in the community to come together for a fun cookout with games and music. There were over 60 families in attendance. I worked on finding a software for us to disperse information to families via email or text. I worked as a liaison with DC Health, informing them whenever we were low on supplies such as pack n’ plays.

What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship?
Looking back, I think the best thing that happened at my internship was learning from the mistakes that I made. My supervisor was pretty hard on me. He always expected the absolute best out of me, and with that, I was definitely able to learn so much not only about the needs of families in a lower income area, but how to push myself as a professional.

What did you like most about your experience?
I really enjoyed working alongside the other interns at CentroNia. We all are so different in our working styles, but we were always able to make it work. There wasn’t ever a dull moment with them.

What did you learn about yourself?
After interning at CentroNia, it really solidified what I want to do in life. I’ve always been passionate about youth and community development. This experience only motivated me moreso to expand my civic duties and join the Peace Crops to engage with other communities facing similar needs.

How did you expand your professional network?
Thanks to FIU in DC, we had a great opportunity during our second week in DC to network with FIU alumni in an amazing event at the Smithsonian. This was a great way for me to learn how to network with professionals and dispel any fears I had about networking in general. Also, The Washington Center provided weekly career exploration and career training events to teach us networking skills.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real world?”
One of my biggest dreams was to live and work in Washington DC. Working in the nation’s capital was an experience that I’ll never forget. The work environment is unlike any other place that I’ve ever been. Everyone is very professional in their demeanor and they are always looking to make a connection. This summer was the first time I’ve ever lived and worked in this kind of “real world” environment. With everything I learned at my internship and at the professional development classes, it all showed me that I can bring something to the table.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
I would tell them to first create a five-year plan: both personal and professional. Figure out what your passions are in life and make sure your university major aligns with them. Then, find an internship that includes some of the ideas presented in that five-year plan. Also, before applying, try to call or connect with several employees in the organization you are applying for via LinkedIn. Maybe you can ask them about their experiences working there, to have some understanding of what you may be getting into.

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