by Barry Schwan
Owner, House of Schwan, Inc.
2016 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
Lyndsey Edwards has opted to stay in Wichita after completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Wichita State University this semester. So has Madison Harris, who recently graduated from Valley Center High School. And Wichita will be a much better place because they’ve both decided to pour their considerable energy and talent back into our region.
Both of these high-achieving young women interned with the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce during the spring semester this year. And in doing so, they built stronger connections to the business community and a deeper affection for Wichita.
Madison said it best in a recent blog post she wrote about her internship experience. “Before starting my internship I was a Wichitan because I was born here. But now I am one because I choose to be.” In fact, Madison now describes Wichita as her “forever home.”
It’s clear from her comments that Madison understands that internships are about much more than sharpening your skills and building your resume. They’re also about making professional and personal connections that have the potential to accelerate career options and create a permanent home.
As a former educator and the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, I want to thank every business leader who has committed the resources to creating these meaningful opportunities. Internships are essential for student growth, but they’re also imperative to the vitality of our business community.
That’s why the Chamber is so pleased to promote the Intern Return program developed by our affiliate, the Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW). Every year the YPW staff and volunteers develop activities and opportunities to familiarize interns with all that’s unique about Wichita. Deepening their ties to Wichita and connecting them with colleagues in other industries is another way to ensure that our community retains our brightest and best talent.
Not every intern will commit to staying in Wichita. But many of those who do make that choice will undoubtedly contribute innovative ideas that strengthen our organizations and companies. And those who move to other areas of the country and even the world will be goodwill ambassadors for our community.
The responsibility is on us, the business community, to create these meaningful opportunities. Involving interns in YPW’s Intern Return program is another important way to demonstrate that Wichita is a place they should consider for permanent employment. These investments in our students ultimately benefit all of us.
It’s nothing short of thrilling when high achievers who have the opportunity to contribute their talents anywhere on the globe make the choice to stay here. It means we’ve all done a great job of communicating the distinct advantages Wichita has to offer and strengthening their personal and professional ties to the region.
Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates. And a special note of thanks to all the employers who gave them an opportunity to apply their classroom lessons in real-life situations.