Tallahassee business leaders learn the ins and outs of internships

Published: Aug. 20, 2016 at 10:39 AM EDT
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By: Mariel Carbone

August 20, 2016

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (WCTV)-- Tallahassee businesses have three major players when it comes to resources: Florida State University, Florida A & M University and Tallahassee Community College.

One day, these students will graduate and possibly stay, live and work here in Tallahassee. That's what the business community wants. One way to help do this, is by offering internships.

Saturday, the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference featured a breakout session called Internships 101: Tips and Resources for Successful Student Engagement. The session focused on where to find candidates, how to vet candidates and how to manage a good program.

One of the panelists, included Mark McNees, President of RedEye Coffee. He said internships are key to retaining talent in Tallahassee.

"We're constantly trying to recruit the best talent, and some of the best talent is already here. So these internships are a great way to let the students know, 'hey, there's opportunity here in Tallahassee and it's a great way for businesses to retain some of that amazing talent we have here that our schools produce," said McNees.

RedEye offers a 16 week internship program during the fall and spring semesters, hiring five to six interns.

Its program is a unique one, where students have the opportunity to create their own business plan and then put it to the test using the shop's mobile cafe.

The goal, is to have sudents implement what they are learning in school. McNees said his program stresses interaction with the triple bottom line: financial, social and enviornmental impact.

"They're learning a lot about how business can have a positive cultural impact, not only in their city, but in their world," said McNees. "And how their business decisions can impact social welfare of who they're supplying from and on the planet."

McNees pointed out that many business owners may be afraid of hiring interns and that they don't look at it as a strategic part of growing their business. But, by offering them real life experience, it creates the reality of continuing business in the community.

"Ultimately, Tallahassee businesses want to retain the talent that we have here at FAMU, FSU and TCC. And a great way to reatin that talent, is to get them into our companies and teaching them," he said.

These interns can also bring fresh ideas to the business, that owners, who are regulary bogged down in the day to day work, may not have time to develop.

McNees suggested businesses that are interested in creating an internship program partner with one of the colleges. There, you can tell the school specifically what type of candidates you are looking for, and find interns that will best fit your needs and programs.