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Cummings: Small business and college interns make great summer partners

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 5:45 p.m. CDT
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Nancy Cummings is executive director of the La Grange Business Association

As college students eagerly head back to school later this month, some of them will be returning to campus with a summer’s worth of real life career experience obtained during an internship at a small business.

Whether it’s writing press releases for a local boutique, coordinating project work for a financial planner or posting on Facebook for a Realtor, enterprising college students get a leg-up on the job market by acquiring real-world career skills that aren’t always taught in business school.

These college interns – most of whom have been raised with smart phones, soccer trophies and innate social media skills – quickly learn that persistence, enthusiasm and an intuition that we just call “business smarts” play a huge role in the successful operation of a small company.  And since small businesses account for 60 to 80 percent of all US jobs, these are also the traits that impact the national economy.

Small businesses, too, benefit from the ingenuity and breezy optimism that come into play with an intern. Good college interns recognize the value of the opportunity and eagerly take on a challenge. Their sense of fair play (acquired by all those years of organized sports) gives them terrific customer service skills, and they amazingly approach all technology simply as a game to be mastered.

At the La Grange Business Association, we’ve benefited from a string of enthusiastic and enterprising students who have embraced the opportunities that presented themselves.  Our interns have created videos, written press releases, sat in on live TV broadcasts, developed social media content and coordinated retail sales promotions. They’ve also handed out thousands of flyers, sat outside in sweltering tents, and hawked water bottles for sale. Currently, they’re working on a handbook to provide to future interns.

So, when you hear that small businesses are the engine of economic growth, remember, too, that they’re the engine of the future by providing concrete career skills to students today.

College interns are providing the needed skills to help small businesses realize their future, too. We both learn a lot from each other.

Nancy Cummings is the executive director of the La Grange Business Association (LGBA). College sophomores and juniors interested in fall internship opportunities with the LGBA and other La Grange businesses should contact nancy@lgba.com.

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