Meet David Singer and Sonja Stewart

BI employer story: BCArc
“Her perspective was great, and she’s one of our markets.”
says Singer on the value of a young adults perspective

Before Berkshire County Arc started using Lever’s Berkshire Interns program to hire its student interns, Director of Marketing and Communications David Singer used to connect with local college career offices, trying to get students to apply.

With BI, which lists internships on its website as well as through 150 college career centers, “I got resumes from 40 schools as opposed to three,” he said. “That’s what the BI network allows me to do.”

“Last summer, between David and I, we had 42 applicants,” said Sonja Stewart, BCArc’s director of family support and advocacy. Around half of her interns decide to apply to be full-time BCArc employees, adding new young people to the local workforce.

Before Berkshire County Arc started using Lever’s Berkshire Interns program to hire its student interns, Director of Marketing and Communications David Singer used to connect with local college career offices, trying to get students to apply.

With BI, which lists internships on its website as well as through 150 college career centers, “I got resumes from 40 schools as opposed to three,” he said. “That’s what the BI network allows me to do.”

“Last summer, between David and I, we had 42 applicants,” said Sonja Stewart, BCArc’s director of family support and advocacy. Around half of her interns decide to apply to be full-time BCArc employees, adding new young people to the local workforce.

BCArc serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Autism, and brain injuries, and individuals who need assistance with daily living. It’s one of Berkshire County’s largest employers, and it serves over 1,000 individuals between the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley. Interns can get a holistic experience here—Singer plays to his interns’ strengths, focusing communications and marketing projects they can sink their teeth into, while Stewart gives her interns a wide variety of experiences while they’re in her department.

Over the past two years, Singer has had interns from BI create a video series, write compelling web content about BCArc’s employees, create and run digital ads, and do a complete audit of all the organization’s marketing from a young adult perspective. “You can’t buy that [experience],” he said. “Her perspective was great, and she’s one of our markets.”

Stewart has her interns create programming that relates to their degree and brings new options to the individuals BCArc serves. She also makes sure they get experience working one-on-one with those individuals through BCArc’s employment, transitional, and family support programs. They help out at fundraisers and learn about advocacy at the state and local level. “It’s refreshing for us,” she said. “I can empower them to learn best practices and bring new ideas.”

Lever gives students free access to networking and social events in the Berkshires during their ten-week internships, which “makes the intern feel like part of something bigger,” Singer said. These experiences lead many former interns to launch their careers here, since they have a built-in network, peers, and business connections.

“I know where almost all of them have jobs now,” said Singer of her former interns. “I tell everyone—if you’re in human services in the Berkshires, you will probably work with BCArc to some degree. Social capital is huge—everyone needs to have community partners.”

Both Singer and Stewart say they would recommend BI to other regional employers. “It doesn’t cost beyond what you pay the interns, and it saves a ton of time,” Stewart said. “Every resume is a decent resume.”