Intern Paving Way for Future Interns in Phelps County

21 Jun 2016

The work of a Phelps County Development Corporation intern this summer could help area business owners reap the benefits of interns in the future.

PCDC has hired Paige Dexter, a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in agricultural education, to help with several programs this summer, including showing local business owners how interns can be a valuable asset.

With their up-to-date knowledge and passion for their career areas, interns offer unique and fresh knowledge to any business. And, internships can be an important recruiting tool for employers who are trying to attract new talent.

Throughout the summer, Dexter will meet with owners of both small and large businesses in Phelps County to provide information about internships and how much they can do for businesses and the community.

Dexter hopes to glean advice from companies who have employed interns in the past and to help others develop internship job descriptions and identify areas where interns could be helpful in the future.

“Ultimately, we feel that if an intern comes to the area, if they really enjoy the experience and the community, hopefully they will come back to stay,” Dexter said.

Alli Donohue, PCDC project coordinator, met Dexter at the Rural Futures Institute career fair in October, where Dexter shared her desire to work in economic development in a small community.

Dexter is originally from Chambers, a small town north of Grand Island with a population of just 268, and she saw firsthand the efforts of her local Holt County Economic Development office.

“I just appreciate that in a small town everyone can come together and unite for one purpose of keeping their town alive,” she said.

She noted the successes she has seen in Phelps County, and she wants to learn from another successful community.

“I was amazed when I first came to Holdrege by how many businesses there are,” she said. “There are just so many opportunities. I knew that Phelps County is big into agriculture, but there are a lot of other opportunities as well. I thought this is for sure where I want to come for this job because it looks like Phelps County has done a good job growing its community and finding the needs and creating the opportunities. ”

Dexter experienced school sports consolidation while in high school, which opened her eyes to the fact that small towns could disappear if no one takes action.

“That’s kind of what kind of led me into this internship,” she said. “I have a love for small communities and helping them thrive or stay alive because there are so many small towns across the United States that are struggling to keep afloat.”

She’s a firm believer in the value of small towns.

“I think some of the best people grow up in a small town,” Dexter said. “Maybe I’m biased. Being exposed to the outside world and going to college, you can tell the people who grew up in a small town just by their character qualities.”

Also during her visits this summer, Dexter will also be taking note of vacant buildings, identifying businesses in need of façade improvements, discovering business owners who are looking to transition to new owners in the near future and listening for other business concerns to help guide PCDC in its future program planning.

With Dexter’s help this summer, Donohue said PCDC has a goal of helping at least five local businesses launch an internship program by the summer of 2017 through the InternNE program. This InternNE program connects college students with employers and will fund up to 50 percent of the wages for an intern for businesses starting new internship programs.

Dexter started work at PCDC on June 6 and will continue through Aug. 12.

Written by Kristine Jacobson (KRJPR) for PCDC