Phase 2 in Lynchburg hummed with activity Wednesday as more than 125 students from three local colleges visited tables manned by nearly 60 local employers in search of the perfect student employee.
Randolph, Sweet Briar and Lynchburg colleges partnered with the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce to put on the first-ever Internship Match-Up. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., students had the opportunity to meet with dozens of local employers, from hair salons to credit unions to city departments, who were ready to educate potential interns about opportunities, conduct interviews and even make offers on the spot if they found the right student.
“I want to do an internship,” said Taylor Rabon, a junior at Lynchburg College attending Wednesday’s event. “I’m looking for one for credit, but I’m [also] hoping to gain some skills.”
Rabon, a communications major, said she’s never had an internship but knows she should do one soon to improve her resume and her work skills.
About half an hour into Wednesday’s event, Rabon had already talked to three employers and was feeling good about her chances of finding something for the winter semester.
“Actually being able to talk to everybody, I feel like I come across better in person,” Rabon said, adding the face-to-face meetings helped her present herself more effectively than cover letters sent out electronically.
Maryam Brown, intern coordinator at Randolph College, said participants in Wednesday’s fair could be looking for internships for the current fall semester, next term or even for the coming summer.
She said Randolph allows students to add on internship credit now, even though the semester already has started, if they find a good fit at the match-up event.
She called the format “dynamic,” meaning employers can use the event to recruit in whatever way and for whatever time period fills their needs.
Every employer table at the match-up sported color-coded signs, designed to help students match their majors to a company’s needs. That way, Brown said, students can realize that even if they don’t know what a business does, it might have an opening that fits their skill set.
Shauna Parsons, owner of Evergreen Basement Systems, said she hopes students would recognize that even though they may not think they’re interested in basement maintenance, her company has lots of interesting opportunities for web-focused marketing interns.
“What we’re looking for here is a young person who can help us out with writing and our efforts to educate people about basements,” said Parsons, whose table sported signs looking for students with an interest in marketing and writing, among other subjects.
The intern coordinators from all three participating colleges said they were pleased with the response from the business community, with between 55 and 57 local employers turning out to recruit talent.
Both Christine Kennedy, executive vice president of the Chamber, and Tandilyn Phillips, assistant director of career services at Sweet Briar, called the event a “win-win,” helping connect local employers with local students and grow the Lynchburg’s economy.
“Part of the benefit to a region with five local colleges is we have a talent pool here,” Kennedy said. “Why not hire local interns?”