Internship Programs and Workforce Development

Workforce development is a focus area for all US Cities’ Chambers of Commerce. We are particularly focused on it in our Huntsville, Alabama, region and the Tennessee Valley high-tech industrial base.

The workforce and employee base here are aging, and the area’s city and county governments are working on ways to successfully replace it. One interesting focus area the City of Huntsville’s mayor, Tommy Battle, is taking is to incentivize downtown investment upgrades and enhancements that will attract young people after they graduate from our local universities with technology degrees. The objective is to encourage them to stay and launch their careers right here given our technological infrastructure.

Another focus area being employed by the government and industry here are internship programs. There are programs available through the universities, large government prime contractors, and the federal government to encourage people, including students, to stay around during the summer months and even year-round for part- or full-time intern employment.

Internship programs have been in place for some time and are designed to provide young people, particularly students, an opportunity to work for organizations within their fields of study, providing them with experience and exposure to ongoing activity in their areas of interest.

A very interesting local program I’m participating in is very creative and exemplifies how innovative thinking has resulted in a win-win situation for everyone concerned.

The Huntsville-based Energy Huntsville Initiative (EHI) is a 501c6 non-profit volunteer organization focused on helping organizations target their offerings toward the rapidly growing “energy market sector.”

The EHI gains funds from memberships and sponsorships. A very motivated building energy optimization company, The Building People, Inc. (TBP), approached the EHI leadership with a proposal: to gain the organization’s highest sponsorship level by providing two internships rather than a cash sponsorship donation.

Since the EHI is a volunteer organization we had a very positive response to TBP’s idea and fully supported it. They posted a recruitment ad on the internet and were met with considerable local candidate responses and we are now in the final stages of bringing two motivated and excited young people into supporting our organization. 

As a result of this initiative, the EHI will gain important support from the interns, which also serves to support the ongoing workforce development initiatives. And these young interns will gain valuable experience and exposure by helping us and they will also likely meet some key members of our organization and possibly land full-time employment as a result.

We are excited about these developing relationships. I’m sharing this with you as a way to show how creative thinking and a sincere desire to help people can yield positive results and lasting business and personal relationships.

What internship experiences have you participated in that have led to positive outcomes? Can you think of ways to develop an opportunity that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved? Please share in the comments section below.