Businesses sought to join in internship program for young adults

Garrett Morrison
Garrett Morrison

Phil Castle, The Business Times

It’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma: Young adults need experience to compete for jobs, but encounter difficulty landing jobs to gain experience.

Meanwhile, employers lament their own difficulties in finding qualified applicants with the required skills and work ethic.

A new program under way in Mesa County is expected to address both of those challenges in offering paid internships to young adults as well as an opportunity for employers to train and try out potential new hires with no financial risk.

The goal is match 60 young adults and businesses by the end of February, said Garrett Morrison, supervisor of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program for youth run by the Mesa County Workforce Center and Hilltop Community Resources in Grand Junction.

The center, Hilltop and Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce have joined in what’s billed as an effort to kick-start youth careers.

The program is open to young adults ages 18 to 24 who aren’t attending high school, college or some other educational institution. Federal grants are available under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to offer paid internships for up to four months, Morrison said.

Young adults can apply to participate at the workforce center. They’ll receive assistance in assessing their interests and skills as well as preparing resumes, improving interview techniques and developing good workplace habits, Morrison said.

Along with paid internships, young adults will gain the training and experiences they need to bolster their qualifications as well as references and networking opportunities. Moreover, they’ll discover whether or not they really want to pursue a career in a given field, Morrison said. “That’s a valuable experience.”

Morrison hopes to recruit a variety of businesses from a range of industry sectors to participate. “The more we get, the more opportunities we can provide.”

Participating businesses provide job descriptions to the workforce center for entry level positions. Business owners and managers participate in the process to select interns as well as monthly evaluations designed to enhance the intern’s training and experience.

It’s important that businesses offer not only internships, but also mentoring to help interns succeed in the workplace, Morrison said. Most business owners and managers likely can recall experiences in which mentors helped them along in their own careers, he added.

Although there’s no requirement to do so, employers can offer regular employment to interns in those situations in which there’s a good fit, Morrison said.

The overall goal of the program, though, is to develop the local work force by helping young adults gain experience and helping businesses find qualified applicants, Morrison said. “We’re offering you an opportunity to fill your own need.”

A luncheon meeting to explain the kick-start youth careers program and recruit businesses to participate is set for noon Jan. 12 at the Mesa County Workforce Center, 512 29 1/2 Road. More information is available from Garrett Morrison at 244-0609 or Terri Smatla at 263-2916.