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USDA and the HACU National Internship Program: A Recipe for Success

AMS Commodity Procurement Financial Analyst Keven Valentin, a former HACU intern at work. Valentin was an intern with AMS for two years through the HACU National Internship Program. Photo Courtesy of Hakim Fobia, AMS Public Affairs

AMS Commodity Procurement Financial Analyst Keven Valentin, a former HACU intern at work. Valentin was an intern with AMS for two years through the HACU National Internship Program. Photo Courtesy of Hakim Fobia, AMS Public Affairs

Reach one, teach one. That is the approach that USDA has taken in its partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) National Internship Program. As a current employee with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and a former HACU intern, I am glad to help continue this tradition.

The HACU National Internship Program helps talented students in more than 400 colleges and universities gain valuable experience through paid internships at federal, private, and non-profit organizations. USDA has been a leading organization working with the program, hosting nearly 1900 HACU student interns since 1994. I am part of the nearly 46% of former HACU interns who earned the opportunity to stay on board with the federal government after finishing my degree.

I accepted the opportunity to continue my career at the USDA after two eventful summers interning with the AMS Commodity Procurement Program. During my tenure as an intern, I applied what I learned in my education and work experience. My time was spent helping develop and implement a new budget tracking system, overlooking a $2.6 million budget, developing budget procedures, and providing support to the daily branch operations. I also got a chance to help develop and implement a new invoicing process using the new Web Based Supply Chain Management System (WBSCM). The WBSCM is now used by AMS to make purchases for the National School Lunch Program and other federal nutrition assistance programs.

As I look back on my experience as a HACU intern working at AMS, I really appreciate the way the program works with USDA and other organizations. After applying for the program through my school, the University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla Campus, HACU placed me in an organization and position that matched my educational background. Working with the Commodity Procurement staff turned out to be a great fit for me.

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo with students at the 2013 HACU National Internship Program summer farewell event. Photo courtesy of Karen Comfort, AMS Special Assistant to the Administrator

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo with students at the 2013 HACU National Internship Program summer farewell event. Photo courtesy of Karen Comfort, AMS Special Assistant to the Administrator

Looking to the future, I am confident that other HACU interns will have similar experiences at USDA and other partner organizations. I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2013 HACU National Internship Program summer farewell event where AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo inspired all. She gave the keynote address alongside Principal Deputy Under Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Jesse. It was great to hear Administrator Alonzo encourage the interns to be fearless as they carve out their career paths. She also stressed that they can achieve anything when they are passionate about the fields they choose.

I am glad to hear that my office will be welcoming two talented HACU interns this fall. I am excited to be able to share with them my positive experiences and encourage them to tell others about the program’s success with AMS and other USDA agencies. I know that the internship will place them on track for long, fruitful careers and that they will help others follow in their footsteps.

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