This summer, University of Richmond senior Evan Alderfer, ’18, is bringing together academic studies, community businesses and leaders, and even volunteer service through his Jepson Internship at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VAHCC).

At VAHCC, Alderfer, a business development and administrative intern, is primarily working to help the organization expand into Northern Virginia by researching Latino-owned and non Latino-owned large and small businesses.

“I research almost anything about these businesses, including focus area, leadership, philanthropy, accolades, notable policy positions, and revenue and size, and use these findings to determine if they would be a strong target for membership with the chamber, in accordance with our mission and values,” explains Alderfer, who will present a list of 50 target businesses for the administration to contact at the end of the summer.

Alderfer decided to complete his Jepson Internship at VAHCC in order to combine his studies in leadership and Spanish while gaining experience in a professional environment. To illustrate this point, he shares about a time when the communications coordinator asked for his input on the development of a new website.

“I was able to think back to a ‘giving games’ project I completed in Dr. Bezio’s Critical Thinking Class,” says Alderfer, describing a project in which students were challenged to explore organizations’ websites to analyze the logic behind them as well as their effectiveness.

He continues, “I felt called to draw back to this experience, and presented my project to the communications coordinator in order to highlight aspects of their website that stood out to me. We were able to replicate and build off many of these aspects, and I’m proud that many of my suggestions are going into the final product.”

Putting theory into practice through experiential learning is nothing new to Alderfer. Along with one of his close friends, Alderfer began volunteering with Youth Life while taking Justice & Civil Society. They enjoyed the environment so much that they attended twice a week, doubling the course requirement.

“My service provided a hands-on opportunity to develop my leadership style, in its very early stages, through being a mentor to a young child enthralled with the concept of learning and brightening his future,” says Alderfer, adding that this experience has come full circle as VAHCC is currently in talks with Youth Life for a potential partnership.

For Alderfer, who is considering careers paths in consulting, government, and NGOs, his internship not only gives him concrete examples of his work but also offers new connections from Washington, D.C. to Central and South America through the relationships he has built with local leaders.