Mariyamawit (Mariyam) Shiferaw, Northern Virginia 2018

2018 Northern Virginia intern Mariyamawit (Mariyam) Shiferaw wants to work in the fashion industry after college.

“She’s focused; she’s driven; she knows what she wants to do,” says her mentor Susan Keightley, program director at The Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC).

The two bonded over a shared interest in fashion, though Mariyam was unsure at first that her internship at CFNC would help her develop the skills she would need in her future profession. However, after she started working on PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheet math, she started noticing the through line between her new skills and the work she was doing in her fashion marketing class at school.

Her time at the organization’s front desk also helped her professional communication skills. Before joining UA, Mariyam said that was always the girl sitting quietly in the corner, not talking to anyone. Now she greets new people every day at CFNC, easily making conversation and coming farther out of her shell.

“In fashion, you have to meet so many new people to introduce your work and everything, to sell it, to promote it. You have to have communication skills,” Mariyam said.

Mariyam, who has never held a job before, also learned how to budget and save from her Urban Alliance workshops. She now puts aside money from each paycheck.

Mariyam’s presence at CFNC has not only helped her develop critical work and life skills, it has also been “a breath of fresh air” at CFNC, bringing a new, diverse perspective and making her colleagues think more creatively about the work they’re doing.