A few weeks ago, interns representing a variety of local employers joined together for the kick-off of a new program from the Flint & Genesee Group. Dubbed the Flintern Experience, this professional development series aims to help college students make the most of their summer internships in Genesee County.
Ultimately, the goal is to get students thinking about Flint & Genesee as a place to start and grow their careers after graduating from college – as opposed to a stop along the way. From what we can tell, internships play an important role in that effort. As one Flintern participant explained:
“(Being from Grand Rapids,) I didn’t know much about Flint. But after coming here and doing an internship, I’ve learned so much about the area and the people who live here. My goal is to work abroad, but if I come back to settle down, I could come back to Flint. I would consider working here.”
And that’s what the Flintern Experience is all about. It complements local internship programs by offering a structured opportunity for interns – some of whom are based locally and some of whom are working remotely from elsewhere in the state and country – to connect with each other and our community. It plants a seed. It shows them what Genesee County has to offer them outside of their day-to-day responsibilities with their employers. It provides interns with a broader picture and encourages them to see themselves within it.
In 2019, the City of Flint, Genesee County and Flint & Genesee Group partnered to establish a common economic vision to drive our region
forward. Dubbed “Forward Together,” this collaborative process resulted in a roadmap to help Genesee County become a top-five community in Michigan – based on jobs, talent, livability and equity – by 2040. One of these strategies in that document touches on the importance of attracting talent to the region and opening pathways for individuals to leave a positive mark.
This is one way that we can all contribute to that bigger picture. Employers can look for opportunities to bring on interns and make connections with students. Residents can encourage their family members and friends, both from inside and outside of the community, to seek out internship opportunities in the area. And community partners can continue working toward making this a desirable place for everyone, including young professionals, to start and grow their careers.
As these new workers join our talent pipeline, our employers will become more competitive. Longterm, we would love to see these young people move here. And as they support our local businesses and join various initiatives, our economy and community will thrive.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing how this inaugural program goes. The Flinterns — who work for 100K Ideas, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, C.S. Mott Foundation, The Honorable Judge Chris Christenson and Michigan State University of Social Work — have an exciting summer ahead of them!
Kristina Johnston is COO of the Flint & Genesee Group.