Intern program seeks to attract younger workers to Clark County

Clark County businesses and economic development leaders hope a program developed for college interns will lead to retaining more younger workers throughout their career.

Several local students recently completed the Chamber of Greater Springfield’s Career Sync program while completing internships for various companies throughout Clark County. The pilot program also linked interns with local mentors in the business community to make them more aware of other assets in the community, like parks and recreational options.

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Clark County constantly competes with other communities to attract a skilled workforce, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. She developed the program after attending a recent fellowship with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

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Area business owners often don’t have time to ensure their younger workers are involved in the community, Donahoe said. The program’s goal is to strengthen the ties between those workers and local community organizations and other businesses.

“It entices them a little more and helps them see that full picture of what our region has to offer,” Donahoe said.

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Zachary Sterzenbach, in his fifth year the University of Cincinnati, spent the summer in an engineering internship with Tech II, a Clark County manufacturing firm that produces plastic containers for the food industry.

He said he learned more about events like the Rotary Club’s food truck rally and farmer’s markets downtown.

“Even growing up here, I didn’t know about a lot of these places,” Sterzenbacher said.

The program included guest speakers who offered career and financial advice, networking training, and help developing a resume. Interns also met at area businesses and heard presentations about the region’s history.

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Jordan Rossitto, a senior at Ohio State University, recently completed an internship at Shiftology, a public relations business that provides service to the health-care and agricultural industries.

Rossitto said she isn’t yet sure what career path to take after graduation, but she’s interested in returning to Springfield. The program provided a larger picture of how a community operates, she said.

“Even if people decide not to come back to Springfield, it helps to think about all aspects of a city before they decide where to go,” Rossitto said.

Some companies, like Speedway, hosted several interns throughout the summer. Encouraging some of those workers to return to Springfield after college not only helps those companies retain skilled workers, Donahoe said, but can help develop engaged community members moving forward.

“I also want to stay in contact with them long-term,” Donahoe said of the program’s first graduates. “Maybe they decide not to come back here right after college and that’s OK. But they still got a taste of what we the community can offer them here.”

The program showed local businesses are willing to go further to attract younger workers, Sterzenbacher said.

“The fact Springfield is trying to invest in these people says a lot about Springfield and that’s a positive factor that will keep a lot of kids here,” Sterzenbacher said. “A lot of bigger cities don’t invest in interns like Springfield has right now.”

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