Standing between piles of yellow squash, potatoes and peppers, with the chatter of friendly small talk in the background, Adrian Martinez greets each customer the same way:
“Welcome! Is this your first time at the farmers market?”
The I-95 corridor seems a world away. In fact, one almost forgets that the farmers market is in the parking lot of Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center in the bustling Cosner’s Corner area of Massaponax.
Martinez, a University of Mary Washington senior business administration major, is helping oversee the market for the summer.
He is one of more than 30 UMW business students who have internships this summer, ranging from positions in sales to marketing to human resources.
Although his internship is an unpaid opportunity, Martinez is one of the first three students to receive an internship grant, awarded by UMW’s Office of Career Services. “As a result of donations from alumni, parents and friends, we are now pleased to be able to offer the Internship Grant Program every summer,” said Sarah Rogis, associate director of internships. “The program will allow UMW students who are facing the financial burden of participating in an unpaid internship the opportunity to offset those expenses with a grant while still greatly expanding their knowledge, experience, professional contact base and chances of future career success.”
From day one, Martinez hit the ground running at the market, he said, developing a marketing plan and promoting the new mid-week market with local businesses.
“It was taking what I had learned in class and actually creating a real marketing plan,” he said, referencing his marketing class with Carole Ann Creque in the spring of 2012.
Every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m., he is at the market – helping the dozens of vendors, taking the counts for the day and assisting Spotsylvania Farmers Market Manager Elizabeth Borst.
“We are extremely lucky he was available and interested,” she said of her intern. “He is extremely responsible. I really can trust him to manage my market.
Martinez’s role is critical, Borst said, since the market at SRMC can see upwards of 800 customers in a four-hour period. Having Martinez on-board allows Borst to focus more of her time on promoting the market’s participation with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. She explained that up to $10 per week in federal nutrition benefits are matched with bonus tokens at the farmers market, providing an additional incentive for families to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I’d love to have 12 just like him,” she said of Martinez, noting his cheerfulness, willingness to go the extra mile and positive attitude.
Martinez is using his enthusiasm for the internship as a platform to meet with local business owners in hopes more Fredericksburg-area restaurants will incorporate local products.
With an eye toward a career in food service management or the restaurant industry, the summer internship has been a perfect opportunity.
“What better place than to start locally with farm fresh produce?” he said.