Stephanie Bell coordinated the START program, which is sponsored by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce to educate interns on the various social and employment opportunities in Jefferson City.
This is the third year of the program, which Bell described as very successful, largely as a result of support from community members.
As interns took a trolley tour of Jefferson City and attended a hYPe luncheon, several community members shared their experiences as citizens of Jefferson City, from both professional and personal perspectives.
According to Bell, the chamber in recent years identified the lack of 20- to 30-year-old professionals as a cause for concern.
"We want to attract and attain talent," she said.
One of the goals of the chamber initiative is to introduce interns to potential employers, while also connecting them to social spheres that will encourage their long-term residence, Bell said.
Bell also emphasized the benefit to local businesses.
By attracting a "talented and qualified workforce," businesses can reduce employee turnover, and therefore lower costs.
"We want to make it a place people want to be," Bell said.
What follows are first-person thoughts on the event from two of our summer interns at the News Tribune:
Hometowns are not necessarily as intimately familiar as they may seem to any lifetime resident.
As a result of my participation on the START program, I was given the opportunity to see Jefferson City from a fresh and more hopeful perspective.
After socializing with community members of diverse backgrounds concerning their place in Jefferson City, both socially and occupationally, we embarked on a trolley tour mainly of the downtown area.
While listening to START coordinators Stephanie Bell and Bill Plank identify and describe various attractive aspects of Jefferson City, I realized the vast amount of historic sites, quaint restaurants, and lively entertainment venues that residents of my age group often overlook.
Instead of receiving a smoke-and-mirror advertisement for nonexistent recreational activities, one can view solid examples of a vibrant community that has positively evolved over the last few years.
Of course, to sustain the many successful businesses in Jefferson City, young professionals must be willing to fill vacant positions and eventually manage those businesses to continue to offer that niche of goods or services that Jefferson City consumers desire.
Many of the interns seemed genuinely interested in the festivals, restaurants and organizations around Jefferson City, upon having learned about them from someone of similar age and interests.
Both the START coordinators and community speakers effectively communicated the attractive aspects of Jefferson City that may not always be discussed in casual conversation.
Chamber and community efforts toward attracting young professionals are definitely fostering interest in Jefferson City and, hopefully, will continue to assist in ensuring Jefferson City's economic and entertainment vitality for years to come.
Today, I had my official introduction to Jefferson City, where I will be working as an intern at the News Tribune.
Though I've studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia for the past four years pursuing a degree in magazine journalism, I never traveled far enough south to spend time in Jefferson City. Other than knowing it is the capital of Missouri, my knowledge of the city was sparse.
So when my supervisor, Gary Castor, registered me for an intern orientation, I was relieved. The summer kickoff was put on by Jeff City START, which is an initiative of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce to help connect students with internships in the city to the community.
The orientation coordinators had a full day planned for me and all of the other interns at the orientation. After having some coffee and breakfast, I got to meet different community members involved in music, history and art in Jefferson City, during which I got a great primer of the city's history from Gary Kremer, the director of the State Historical Society of Missouri.
During orientation, we also went on a trolley tour of the city, stopping along the way to meet with young professionals in different industries. For me, I got to learn about the communications industry during a stop at Capitol City Cork & Provisions. The day wrapped up with lunch and a candid speech by Taisir Yanis of Yanis Coffee Zone.
All in all, I learned a lot about Jefferson City, met some great people, have some things to add to my calendar and a list of restaurants and coffee shops to enjoy this summer.