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MEDP Spark- Growing our Own Jedi: The secret behind our emerging Work(Force)

Jul 22, 2021

WORKS Header

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” Abigail Adams spoke those words over 200 years ago, so I’ll translate for you. Learning is hard work. Learning is more often than not, a pain in the rear, and it doesn’t drop into your lap. I’ll give you an example. 

On June 9th, 2021, my alarm rang at 5:30 a.m. It’s supposed to sound like peaceful wind chimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever woken up “peacefully” at 5:30 a.m. I like to say that I’m a morning person, but that doesn’t mean I actually want to get out of bed. But this particular morning, I had to because I was hosting my first McMinnville WORKS Professional Development Workshop. I’m the Intern Coordinator, which means I have to be there early to set up the event, and it takes an hour to drive to McMinnville from my home in Beaverton. So 5:30 a.m. it was. 

As I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, I thought the same thought I’ve considered a thousand times, and I’m sure you have too. Why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this. I could just go back to bed… If you work early shifts, or maybe if you’re an athlete like me, you’ve thought this a lot. That morning, I wondered why I had decided to be an intern at MEDP and work 40 hours a week when I could be sleeping in and enjoying more of summer. But I’m not the only one. The other college and high school-age interns in the MEDP Program are doing the same thing for similar reasons. We want to learn and develop ourselves, even when it’s not easy. We want to grow. 

Chris and Kitri
Kitri McGuire from Visit McMinnville speaking with MEDP Internship Coordinator Chris Nobles

“Grow Our Own” was the phrase that started the McMinnville WORKS program in 2013. It referred to the strategy to build our own workforce in McMinnville in response to the struggle of local companies to find talented employees. Today, eight years later, that struggle is real as ever following the COVID-19 pandemic, but the WORKS program continues to strive to connect interns with local businesses, both of whom are hungry to learn and grow. 

For me, that connection began in late January when a professor at Corban University sent me a link to apply for an internship with MEDP. I had been looking for summer internships, so I jumped at the opportunity and applied. Just over three months later, I stepped into the MEDP office, officially the MEDP Intern Coordinator. Before long, ten other interns would join the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, each with their own specific position at a local business in the McMinnville community. 

I would like to think of the 2021 Intern Cohort as something like a group of Jedi padawans, and it is kind of true. Each of us is learning from our own Jedi masters, but we also learn from each other whenever we come together, and we each have our own set of skills and abilities. Jordan Brantner, a student at OSU, is a Software Development Intern at the Swedemom Center of Giving; Dahlia Garcia, a recent McMinnville High School graduate, is a Fabrication Intern at Solid Form Fabrication; and Vivian Nice, a student at Chapman University, is the Digital Community Outreach Intern at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Everyone has something unique that they bring to the table, and everyone around them benefits from it. 

One noticeable thing that every intern shares is the community that we are working in. Vivian Nice, who is a McMinnville local, said that to her, the community is, “vibrant and inspiring. McMinnville is a close-knit community full of hard workers and a rich quality of life. Third street and many small businesses make it feel like home.” I, who am not a local, can testify that McMinnville has a unique atmosphere; there is something very classy and comfortable about the community. Intern Jordan Brantner commented, “Tight-knit community...describes McMinnville well. It feels like everyone knows everyone here, and everyone cares about the well-being of the community. It has a distinct culture that you can't see anywhere else, and it just feels like everyone is super friendly with each other. This town isn't too big or too small, and I've loved growing up here for my entire life.”

Interns at First Federal 2021 Interns after a Personal Finance workshop at First Federal

I have heard many quotes in my life about surrounding yourself with a few good people who will make you grow, and I think the same can be said about larger communities. If we, interns, professionals, people in general, are to grow, we need to find communities like the one here in McMinnville that will help us grow. That growth may be difficult, but it is worth the struggle, whether that struggle looks like sitting in a classroom for hours, having a project fail, or waking up early to attend a Professional Development Workshop. It’s worth it.

Watching the community pour support into the intern cohort has been one of my favorite aspects of the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, and I think that’s most obvious in the weekly workshops. During the second workshop of the summer, Jeff VandenHoek, owner of Intentionality Inc, came and spoke about emotional intelligence, leadership, and self-development, but only after almost having to cancel due to family health issues the day before. As I sat cross-legged in a metal folding chair listening to him speak, I asked myself, why did he go through the trouble of coming here? He could have canceled. We would have found another speaker. But he had already answered the question with something he had said earlier in the workshop to our cohort. “I’m passionate about you.” 

That has been a constant theme throughout the first half of this summer internship program. From Brian Vanbergen excitedly giving us a tour of the seemingly ancient records in the basement of the County Clerk's Office, to Kitri McGuire from Visit McMinnville making time to speak with our cohort at 8:00 a.m before rushing to a meeting at 9:00 a.m, the McMinnville community has shown great support for the young professionals in our program. As Lacey Dykgraaf simply put during an interview over a cup of coffee, “Mac helps everyone.” 

Volunteering Intern Dahlia Garcia is interning at Solid Form Fabrication this summer: Pictured at an intern volunteer event with Swedemom Center of Giving

Of course, this season, like many before, has come with its own difficulties. Everyone in the community has been affected by COVID-19, but especially local businesses and their attempts to hire new employees. Interns have been scarce and hard to find as well. Several businesses that usually participate in the program were unable to take on interns this year due to challenges that arose out of the pandemic. However, in times like this, workforce development programs like McMinnville WORKS become all the more important, even if our jobs are made a little more difficult than before. Challenging seasons like this are what make people and communities grow. 

As I prepare for the second half of the 2021 McMinnville WORKS Internship Program, I look forward to a few specific things. First, the memories that I will create, second, the relationships I will build, and third, the learning and growth I will achieve. Even on those mornings when it’s tough to get out of bed, I’m encouraged by the fact that this program is making me better. As Kitri McGuire said, “The McMinnville WORKS Internship Program provides an incredible experience for local students and recent graduates who are looking to explore career opportunities in the heart of Oregon wine country. You can’t find a better program in Oregon.”

Interns at Flag & Wire 2021 Intern Cohort outside of Flag & Wire for a workshop on Entrepreneurship 

Interested in learning more about the McMinnville WORKS & Career Bound Internship programs? Give us a call. 503.474.6814

*This article was written by MEDP Internship Coordinator Christopher Nobles



Special thanks to all the amazing people and organizations that made our  2021 program possible


Host Sites

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Hurst Berry Farm International


Solid Form Fabrication

Swedemom Center of Giving

Unique Wire

Yamhill County Fair and Event Center


Workshop Speakers

Brandon Malloy  - Express Employment Professionals

Brian Van Bergen - Yamhill County Clerk’s Office

Chelsey Nichol - The Bindery Event Space

Dave Rucklos - McMinnville Downtown Association

Jamie Corff - Visit McMinnville

Jeff VandenHoek - Intentionality 

Jen Armenta - Sage River Consulting

Kathie Byers - First Federal 

Kevin Chambers - Headwater Investment Consulting

Kitri McGuire - Visit McMinnville

Lacey Dykgraaf - The City of Newberg

Mike White - Launch Mid-Valley/OEN

Miles Oliveira - Buildable



Anna Marshall - Graduate of George Fox University 

Christopher Nobles - Junior at Corban University

Dahlia Garcia - Graduate of McMinnville High School

Dylan Angel - Senior at George Fox University 

Hadleigh Heller - McMinnville High School

Jordan Brantner - Sophomore at Oregon State University

Katherine Taylor - Senior at Oregon State University

Marie Hamel - Freshman at University of San Francisco

Megan Brower - Senior at George Fox University

Rachel Stanphill - Graduate of George Fox University 

Vivian Nice - Junior at Chapman University


Workshop Venues and Contributors

Bindery Event Space

Betty Lou’s Bars

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

First Federal

Flag & Wire

Mac Daddy Donuts

Mac Market

McMinnville Water and Light

Swedemom Center of Giving

Yamhill County Clerk's Office

Yamhill County Fairgrounds


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

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