By Peter Baroff
This summer I will complete a 10-week internship at the Ardmore Initiative located just minutes from Haverford College’s campus. The opportunity was provided to me through the Whitehead Internship Program which helps sophomore and junior students engage in work related to “entrepreneurial endeavors, small business enterprise, venture capital or investment finance activities.” It is a great way for students to apply a number of great internship opportunities that are funded by the College without a difficult interview process. All of the steps required are detailed on the CCPAs website and in Handshake.
The Ardmore Initiative is a firm that manages the business-improvement district of downtown Ardmore. Founded in 1988, “Ardmore Initiative’s mission is to create and maintain a thriving, economically viable downtown business district for the benefit of merchants, residents, and visitors.” My role in accomplishing this goal is to assist the organization in coordinating with different actors in Ardmore’s downtown. This Whitehead Internship was very appealing to me as its focus is on downtown economic and community development which have both been topics that I have found very interesting during my studies. As my summer internship has not yet begun, I hope to provide a glimpse into what my responsibilities and experiences will be in the upcoming weeks.
For the summer, I have been tasked with five objectives. The first is updating and revising a walking guide to Historic Ardmore. The second is a physical survey of Ardmore’s business district, looking at the occupancy of the downtown and the business mix. This will help the Ardmore initiative market the downtown and follow through on its strategic plan. Third, a survey of business and property owners. This is a vital part of the Ardmore Initiative’s goals as it helps win grants and other forms of funding which make the work it does possible. I will be tasked with finding details on the percentage of business and property owners who are minorities or women, and the number of employees working for a business. Fourth, I will be helping coordinate Restaurant Week which occurs during the summer. In doing this I will assist the organizations Executive Director Marie Suvansin and work with board members and the executive committee. Alongside these activities I will complete an independent project which I will develop in the first weeks of the summer.
By the end of the summer I hope to have developed a better understanding of community and economic development which will complement those that I have learned through a major in Political Science at Haverford College and a minor in Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College. In addition, the internship provides me with great experience with practical skills that can be applied in any field that I find myself in professionally. My hope is that working through both the day-to-day activities of an organization like the Ardmore Initiative and assisting their long-term objectives will help me learn further about my professional interests and begin to give me the ideas and skills necessary to complete a thesis during my senior year.