Call 503.474.6814 - Email us

 

Oregon | WORKS: Creating Community Internship Programs Statewide

Jul 27, 2017

Workshop participants discuss their ideal community internship program.
Workshop participants discuss their ideal community internship program.

Through the months of May and June, MEDP (McMinnville Economic Development Partnership) was given the opportunity to visit four Oregon communities and deliver workshops teaching others how to implement community wide internship programs. At MEDP, our own community internship program, the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, has seen great success since its development in 2013. With this success came a request from multiple professionals and groups to bring this experience to other towns to help facilitate how a community could start an internship program of their own.

We were able to produce these workshops through a an Oregon Talent Council Grant and in partnership with Governor Brown’s Regional Solutions office. Through this support we were able to deliver on something that has been requested since the beginning of the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program. Not only were we able to connect with four Oregon communities and share our experience, we were also able to create a master workbook of our materials and plan out a workshop to help other communities get started. We call this workshop and the materials “Oregon | WORKS.”

Setting up prior to an Oregon | WORKS workshop.
Setting up prior to an Oregon | WORKS workshop.

In collaboration with Governor Brown’s Regional Solutions office, MEDP presented the workshop and encouraged Regional Solution Coordinators to take the opportunity back to the communities they covered and encourage them to apply. With the grant, MEDP was able to create and deliver a workbook, an appendix of useable materials, and a six hour workshop free of charge to four towns in the state. In the end, the four communities were the Port of the Dalles, Bend, Albany, and Marion County.

The workshops began with a quick overview of the program stating the history, the structure, and most importantly, the why. Stressing the importance of letting industry lead the discussion, MEDP’s Executive Director, Jody Christensen, explained that the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program was created to fill an industry need: our companies needed skills and a workforce that they were struggling to find in our community. To create the program we organized a steering committee of industry leaders and professionals and let them make decisions every step away. After five years, industry is still at the forefront of every conversation when it comes to the program, which we believe has allowed it to find success year after year.

Participants in Albany write down the components they believe would create an ideal internship program
Participants in Albany write down the components they believe would create an ideal internship program.

After diving further into the workbook and explaining the various materials given, workshop participants were given the opportunity to begin the first steps of planning their own program. Breaking up into small groups, everyone was asked to reflect and write down what their own personal ideal internship program would look like. Working with industry, service providers, educators, and nonprofit organizations created a variety of results of what the ideal program would be. We then asked groups to come together to talk about what was important, stressing the need to have industry lead the charge.

After teams reported out, MEDP identified common themes to help create a broad concept for that community’s program. Different components changed in different places. For example, one community stressed the importance of hiring local interns while another wanted to focus on ensuring interns who were new to town had the chance to connect with one another. After establishing guidelines MEDP then asked the group what would be needed to begin a pilot and who was missing from the conversation.

Small groups reported out on what in an internship program was important to them
Small groups reported out on what in an internship program was important to them.

Results from the workshop varied between the communities. Some communities came away with more information on how individual companies could be better prepared to host interns. Some communities proved a need for workforce solutions with more engaged industry partners, while one community created their own steering committee and have mapped out how to get a pilot started. Watching the results have shown that the basic framework of the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program can be shaped and molded to fit a community’s need, as long as industry leads the conversation.

We are also happy to report that at MEDP one of our resource partners, Chemeketa Community College Yamhill Valley, is exploring options in how they approach internships through the community college. We can’t wait to have this become another asset for both young professionals in McMinnville and the companies here who are looking for talent.

Interested in having an Oregon | WORKS Workshop in your community? Please give us a call at 503.474.6814.

To learn more about the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, watch our video below and visit our webpage.

Subscribe

Subscribe to our blog to get latest news from McMinnville by email

MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

Connect with us

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS