NCI honors interns during luncheon

July 25, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Greensboro resident Clifton Bostick said Wednesday that he might consider moving to the Martinsville area in the future if he can find a job.

Bostick, a University of North Carolina at Greensboro senior, has spent this summer working in human resources at RTI International Metals as part of an internship program sponsored by the New College Institute (NCI).

He said he likes Henry County and Martinsville because of “the realness of the people. They have a lot of great stories to tell.”

Katie Croft, NCI’s coordinator of experiential learning, said the community needs skilled young workers such as Bostick.

The community suffers from “brain drain,” Croft said. “There is an outmigration of knowledgeable workers” who travel daily to jobs in other places.

For that reason, “attracting and retaining young talent to the community is more important than ever,” Croft said during a luncheon at the Spencer-Penn Center on Wednesday to honor NCI’s experiential learning students, including the interns.

Now in its seventh year, the internship program expanded from 32 students last summer to 51 this summer.

Eight of this summer’s interns are from places other than Henry County and Martinsville, Croft noted. They can serve as ambassadors for the community and perhaps eventually decide to return here to start their careers, she said.

Summer interns are being paid about $4,000 for their work.

Bassett High School graduate Kasey Gray will start graduate studies in speech language pathology at James Madison University this fall after earning her bachelor’s degree in May. An intern with Ashbrook Audiology & Hearing Aid Centers, she said the money helps students pay their college tuition.

Interns generally were surprised to find a lot of career opportunities locally.

Elizabeth Adkins, a Patrick Henry Community College student interning at Bassett Furniture Industries this summer through the NCI program, said she aims to pursue a marketing-oriented career. She said she now realizes there are “fulfilling careers” of that type in the area.

There is “a lot of diversity in job choices” here, said Matthew Hawkins, a local student attending Virginia Tech who is interning at Eastman.

According to Hawkins, the Martinsville area might not be the “first hot spot” that a physics major thinks of when searching for a job, but positions in that field are available locally.

Bradley Meeks, a local student majoring in journalism at Virginia Tech, is an intern with The Harvest Foundation. He said it sometimes can be hard for people to see there are “tons of good jobs” available locally.

Personally, though, he has learned a lot about the community he calls home.

“He’s learned about things he didn’t know existed here, and he’s been here all of his life,” said Nancy Cox, Harvest’s senior program officer.

For instance, Meeks said that until he started working on Harvest-related projects, he did not realize there are a lot of historic buildings in the area.

Yet what has come to impress him most about the community is its people. “We have great community leaders doing so much ... to make it better,” Meeks said.

After he graduates from college, he said, “I want to be one of those people who comes back and makes it a better place.”

Gray said she would be interested in doing that, too, provided that she can find a job locally.

“I’d definitely consider” returning, she said, noting that she enjoyed growing up in Henry County and Martinsville and her family is here. She added that she realizes the community would be a good place to raise a family.


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