Cleveland intern party aims to foster connections, encourage young people to stay
Several hundred Cleveland-area summer interns - coming from more than a hundred colleges across the country and 30-plus states - congregated at Cleveland's Playhouse Square Wednesday for a party thrown exclusively for them.
The party was hosted by Greater Cleveland Partnership, and featured food, music and appearances by the Cleveland Cavaliers' Moondog mascot and several local leaders. Baiju Shah, president and CEO, said the party is part of a long game to bring young professionals to Cleveland.
“Our hope is, they'll tell their friends, they'll tell them on social, they'll tell them when they're back on campus about their summer in the land, and that will be a springboard for them and others to consider coming back when it's time to start their careers,” he said.
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne stopped by to encourage the students to enjoy the city and have a good summer experience. Bibb noted that he spent most of his summers interning at organizations in Cleveland despite going to college at American University in Washington D.C.
“If I can be elected at 34 and be mayor, you can come back to Cleveland to create a business, start a family and achieve your own dreams right here,” he said. “And we are doing everything we can to reinvent our city from the great work we're doing with the county executive on the waterfront to reimagining downtown to showing the world that Cleveland's got swag and that Cleveland is ready and open for business.”
Amanda Wu, a Case Western Reserve University student, will have a busy summer in Cleveland with two internships. She’ll be interning with Global Cleveland, and she’ll be working with Greater Cleveland Partnership on their CUBE initiative, which stands for construction, utility, building and equity
“That (program) is sort of dedicated to promoting equity and again, meaning fairness and ownership for those in the construction sector, particularly among employees or minority business enterprises,” she explained.
Youssef Doumbia, a senior at Oberlin College and another Greater Cleveland Partnership intern, will be working in the area of innovation and research.
“I’ll just be looking around and seeing kind of, in the post-secondary or higher ed institutions, what kind of innovations are they coming out with, (and) if they are commercializing that technology or that innovation, and then seeing what kind of private sector or corporations in general might be looking (for) in that area,” Doumbia said.
Shah said the party was initially meant to help connect GCP's 21 summer interns to other interns in Cleveland but swelled quickly with registration hitting 700 people the day of the event.
Taylor Atkins, a Lakeland Community College student, and Jacob Renner, a University of Akron student, both also attended the intern party Wednesday. They’re IT co-operative members at Sherwin-Williams focusing on cyber security, which is basically a long-term internship at the company, Atkins explained. Atkins said she believes it’s preparing her well to go into that field as a career.
“Quite honestly, I like the investigation piece of it,” she said. “So, seeing what people are doing and what they shouldn't be doing and then … just raising that flag, it's fun.”
Renner said the hope is to get hired with the company after the cooperative ends. They both said they're looking forward to spending their summer in Cleveland.
Alvin-William Blankson, a University of Chicago student, will be interning with the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, a nonprofit focused on overseeing the connections and quality of Cleveland’s public and charters schools. He said he's enjoyed what he's seen of Cleveland so far.
“It’s very nice, very green,” Blankson said of Cleveland. “It’s a little bit of a change of pace from Chicago, but not too much.”
He added he’s excited for the internship but also hopes to make some good connections in Cleveland, and at the intern party, for his ultimate career goal – to go into law.
“I’m just looking forward to meeting new people and networking, because, like, I know that not everybody is here doing the same thing,” he said.
The event was hosted in partnership with Cleveland Talent Alliance partners Destination Cleveland, Engage Cleveland, Global Cleveland, TeamNEO and the Cleveland Leadership Center, Greater Cleveland Partnership said in a press release.