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Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on Feb. 3, 2016, at the 10th Annual IMPACT Awards luncheon. Though the event is over and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.

These are their stories.

Ben Verdi graphic

Ben Verdi is a second-year graduate student at Indiana University (Bloomington). He served as a Governor’s Public Service summer intern with the Department of Workforce Development.

Indiana INTERNnet: How did you become interested in government work?

Ben Verdi: I got interested in government for the same reasons I was initially interested in public service. I want to lend every skill and talent I’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate back to my community and country at large. Government work appeals to me as a wonderful way to go about making that kind of a difference in people’s lives, but it’s not the only way. People can be involved in public service in any way they wish, and to any extent they wish, and that’s maybe what’s so exciting about pursuing public service as a career.

IIN: Some of the writing you did included a youth manual and government policy. Had you ever written policy before? What was that experience like?

BV: I had never undertaken such a comprehensive or consequential policy writing project. The experience was challenging and I was thankful for how much trust my supervisors placed in me. I think more interns should have the privilege of being as trusted as I was. There are some really smart young people in this country who are itching for a chance to surprise their bosses and add value to their companies/organizations.

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IIN: You also presented to a group of JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) specialists and managers during a summer training session, correct? What did you discuss?

BV: I discussed practical and effective ways in which writing can be taught to groups of at-risk youth, and who lack the literary and linguistic skills prerequisite to success in the classroom and job market. The kinds of collaborative, challenging and even competitive writing workshop techniques I participated in as a student have served me tremendously throughout my academic and professional lives, and based on those tried and true practices it’s my belief that any student – regardless of their background, income level, or upbringing – can become an excellent writer.

IIN: How did you approach working with at-risk youth, and what did you learn from doing that?

BV: Though I’ve worked with at-risk youth in the past, the main thing I learned to do while working with some of Indiana’s most at-risk youth was to listen. Hearing the stories of vanishing job opportunities, families being broken apart, finances being stretched to the point of untenability, and even schools closing down for lack of funds, there are myriad barriers to success that Indiana’s at-risk youth face every day. Listening to those stories helped me better inform my understanding of the situation on the ground across Indiana, and I was fortunate to have met and worked with so many inspiring and hard-working Indiana youth as I did.

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