The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Iowa City Area Development Group’s joint young professionals initiative, Ignite ICR, wrapped its third season this past July with the Progressive Dinner that hosted 128 interns from 33 companies in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids (ICR) region. The dinner was the last of the three-part intern series that started in 2019 to help thousands of interns that flock to the region every summer better engage, experience, and indulge in what the area has to offer.
“I have personally seen the transformation that the city has gone through since the 2008 flood, and I have definitely considered residing in Cedar Rapids after college,” said Sarah Cunningham, Loras College senior who is interning at Van Meter. “There are many events on the weekends for all ages and various interests to participate in, which is something to think about as I figure out where I’d like to be after college. There are many opportunities to connect and grow throughout my career as well,” added Cunningham, who is native to Cedar Rapids.
Cunningham found Ignite ICR as a wonderful way to network with people her age working across the area, while learning career tips that she believes would come handy in the future, a similar sentiment shared by Caroline Krapfl, who grew up in a military family where she moved more then 8 times before landing at The University of Iowa in pursuit of her mechanical engineering degree.
“I enjoyed attending the Intern Night at Big Grove Brewery. The fact that we not only got to meet interns from Shive-Hattery, but meeting interns from other companies in the ICR area, was a cool opportunity,” she said. “Caleb Woods, the speaker from the Economic Alliance, was on point and provided valuable information on how to ramp up our resume which will definitely come in handy as I near graduation.”
While interns relish the opportunity to learn as they indulge in the scrumptious delicacies, hearty conversations, and enlightening suggestions during Ignite ICR events, employers, who use internships to find talented young minds who could potentially become future employees, see these events to help students fall in love with the community so they are more likely to stay or come back post-graduation.
“Internships are our preferred method for building our talent pipeline. It is a win-win when a stellar former intern becomes a full-time employee as we get new employees who we already know are great to work with,” said Monica Sargent, Design Team Leader at Shive-Hattery. “Ignite ICR gives our interns a chance to connect outside of work and in the local community. We appreciate this opportunity for interns to see the area and begin to imagine a life here.”
Van Meter’s Continuous Improvement Specialist, Danielle Monthei, on the other hand, expressed how community engagement is weaved into their company culture, making it a no-brainer for the electrical supplier to have their interns partake in the event.
“One of the goals for our intern program is for the interns to learn how we do business differently. Knowing and taking care of the places in which we work and live is our ‘Place P’ within our company purpose, and this program gives our interns even more exposure,” said Monthei.
Workforce attraction and retention are precursors to the long run economic growth of any city, state, or country. Showing a constantly growing, vibrant community with a favorable cost of living sets the groundwork to welcome innovative minds to the region. The enthusiasm of these interns to stay or come back to the region after completing their academic endeavors, are indicative of future growth of the corridor and we appreciate all local businesses and eateries that have played a part in ICR Iowa’s forward momentum.
Learn more about IgniteICR and how to get interns involved at www.igniteicr.com.