Nashville Chamber's Opportunity Now Intern Experience

By: Verlinda Darden, Project Coordinator, Policy

Having Hillsboro High School 2017 graduate Yahya Ali as a part of our Policy department for his time as an Opportunity Now intern was a symbiotic experience. Opportunity Now is an initiative created to connect youth to opportunity and hope (

When the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce signed on to host a summer intern, I believed we were being good stewards by participating in Mayor Megan Barry’s effort to combat the growing gap of youth employment and 'soft skills' attainment by providing youth employment opportunities. We would provide an opportunity to one highly qualified scholar and expose him to the professional world of a leading area nonprofit agency.

Little did we know that Yahya would help us as much, or more, than we were able to help him. He transformed our ideas for websites and social media platforms into masterpieces. He helped with our education and transportation efforts. He explored the many facets of the Nashville Chamber by working with our Growth, Economic Development, and Operations teams, and he shadowed Ralph Schulz, the Chamber’s CEO. At the conclusion of his time with the Chamber, Yahya shared insights from his experience during a candid conversation with Metro council members and Mayor Barry herself.

Yahya reinforced to everyone he worked with at the Chamber that our city’s youth truly are our future. We were reminded that it can be more rewarding for the giver than the recipient when one is truly invested in cultivation of an individual’s success. We are thankful to have an opportunity to pay it forward to such an outstanding young individual. We hope that something was done or said that will stay with Yahya throughout his college career, which begins this fall at Middle Tennessee State University. This was just the beginning to a long-standing relationship. Who knows, he may even be a Chamber staff member one day.

Learn more about our intern Yahya Ali below.

Name: Yahya Ali

Age: 19

High School Attended: Hillsboro High School

College: Middle Tennessee State University

Major: Marketing

Minor: Graphic Design

Hobby: Yahya has his own clothing brand called ¥outh

Quote He Lives By:

“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you” - Tony Robbins

From Left to Right: Yahya Ali with the Chamber Staff; the Chamber Policy team; and Metro Council Members, The Mayor's Office, Public Works, Planning and Nashville Chamber colleagues

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