Application Deadline: Monday, Nov. 26, 2020
Shelia Dashiell, Program Manager
Dr. Willie Ringold, Director of Social Services
Travelers Aid sponsors an internship program for area college students, targeting those students either majoring in social work or hospitality. There will be a maximum of five intern positions.
The internship will be the second or spring semester, beginning in January and running until May. Recruiting and screening will be completed by the December holiday break.
Work alongside an experienced Travelers Aid volunteer for one four-hour shift each week. The Travelers Aid Information Booth at Union Station is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. As a volunteer intern, there will be no financial compensation.
Key Intern Attributes
Committed to consistently working the weekly shift; the desire and willingness to help the public; a warm, outgoing personality; able to work well with others; enjoy learning new things; attention to detail; able to retain information quickly, and willing to conform to suggested dress code/uniform.
What is Travelers Aid?
Travelers Aid has been operating at Washington Union Station since 1912. Today, it also has locations at Reagan National and Dulles International airports. The Washington operation is part of a social services movement that began in 1851. Locally, Travelers Aid is both a social services provider and a customer service help agency. At all three Washington locations, it assists travelers with a variety questions concerning tourism, hospitality, basic directions and travel snags. At Union Station, certified social workers assist those who are “stranded” on life’s journey and in need of shelter, counseling or emergency transport. Travelers Aid relies on volunteers to provide the bulk of its services. In Washington, Travelers Aid volunteers assisted nearly five million travelers in 2019.
Union Station Travelers
As the city’s multi-modal transportation hub – rails, subways, inter-city buses and taxis – Union Station is a busy place, especially when major events take place on Capitol Hill or the National Mall. These events include major marches and protests as well as community events, such as the July 4 fireworks.
Our volunteers assist more than 210,000 travelers each year with directions. In addition, our social services staff assists an additional 1,400 individuals who may be homeless; suffering from mental illness; jobless or underemployed; victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking, and those stranded without the resources to get home. In each of these cases, our social workers screen them and make referrals to the most appropriate local agency. Each year, Travelers Aid provides about 350 bus tickets to those stranded or homeless individuals to travel home to their families.
An intern will work a weekly four-hour shift at the Information Booth inside Union Station. The shift can be on any of the seven operating days and will be scheduled by the program manager.
In the early weeks of the semester, each intern will follow the same training process as our other volunteers. An intern will receive on-the-job training by staff and will be paired with experienced volunteers. As each intern gains experience and maturing in the job they will gain greater independence staffing the information booth. Individual students will gain experience in dealing with a diverse group of people asking the simplest questions to those with major life traumas. In addition, the interns will gain experience working alongside our volunteers – a diverse group of mostly retired individuals with a wide range of professional and life experiences. As the interns gain experience and confidence, they will get an opportunity to observe our social workers interviewing and assisting clients who are in need of crisis intervention services.
Benefits of an Internship
It is expected an intern will gain invaluable experience in dealing with a wide range of people experiencing a variety of major and minor crises. It is an ideal opportunity to develop people skills, especially the art of listening and the ability to calm a situation. For the social work major, it is an opportunity to observe professionals in action and work alongside them. For the hospitality major, it is an opportunity to develop key customer engagement skills that will be critical to future employers.
Each intern will received feedback. There will both a mid-semester and end-of-semester evaluation. Travelers Aid will be happy to use your university’s evaluation forms.
It is envisioned that an intern will be a first or second year student. This experience will enable them to help focus the direction of future coursework and other internship opportunities.
- Participate in 15 hours of volunteer training in the first several shifts
- Volunteer a minimum of four hours per week
- Respond to basic questions from passengers
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, please consult with one of the social workers or with more experienced volunteers
- Observe, with permission, conversations with social workers.
- Submit resume by Nov. 26, 2020. In the cover letter, note your Spring Semester daytime availability
- Email your materials or any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Union Station internship
Intern Information Sheet (PDF)