Business and organization leaders gathered on Tuesday at the library to learn about creating community-based internships to bridge the gap for students graduating and businesses that need to fill entry-level jobs.

Downtown Roseburg Association board member Mandy Elder recommended the organization apply for the McMinnville Economic Development to teach the workshop and helped get about 30 people in the room to hear about the internship program model.

“It provides meaningful connections for youth to their community and for community members to see youth in new ways and engage with them in new ways,” Elder said. “I thought this could be an interesting way to bring together these conversations.”

Represented organizations included CHI Mercy Medical Center, the Douglas Educational Service District, the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership, Distinguished Apes, the Downtown Roseburg Association, Wildlife Safari and others.

Meredith Goddard and Lacey Dykgraaf came from McMinnville on a grant from the state to bring “siloed” organizations into the same room to discuss how McMinnville’s internship model works.

“(We’re) bringing together partners from industry, from service organizations, from schools who want to have a seat at the table in crafting what an internship program looks like in their local communities,” Goddard said. “This work is so important because we want to make sure we reach out to all students and all students feel like there is a path for them in this community and that starts with creating work-based learning experiences,” Goddard said.

Roseburg, Coos Bay, Ontario and Boardman were selected out of the ten applicants for the workshop for 2019. The partnership has been doing its internship program since 2013 and teaching other communities how the model is structured since 2017.

“There’s opportunities here that a lot of people just don’t know about,” Dykgraaf said. “It’s letting young people know about the opportunities and helping the workforce find the employees they need. We always say our internship program is good for the companies, good for the interns and good for the community.”

Gwen Soderberg-Chase from Douglas County Partners for Student Success had already been working on connecting students with opportunities in the community when she was approached and she helped bring in more organizations already in conversations with her organization.

Part of her organization’s goal is to make sure every student has opportunities to learn about different careers and graduates with a plan for their future.

“We were in the process of initiating efforts toward strengthening opportunities for internships and job shadows for high school youth so it became a really important fit,” Soderberg-Chase said. “We are positioning ourselves to figure out what is going to work in Douglas County.”

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at jpolcyn@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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