Community Voices: Community Projects with the Chamber of Commerce

The Morris Area Chamber of Commerce is a unique organization that operates as a non-profit organization within the world of business and commerce. A member organization, the Chamber is challenged to serve a wide range on member businesses – from churches to non-profit organizations like the American Legion or Someplace Safe to retail businesses like Willie’s Super Valu to Unger’s Furniture to health care facilities like Stevens Community Medical Center to educational entities like the University of Minnesota Morris. The professional staff work with numerous committees, member volunteers, activities and events to promote and grow the Stevens County area. Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day or even the week!

The Center for Small Towns, another unique organization that bridges the communities of UMM and Morris, offered the Chamber a great solution to the problem of finding enough hours to meet the needs of our members and our community. The internship program that CST offers provided the Chamber an opportunity to partner with UMM, provide great real-life experience through an internship, and gain valuable time and skills from UMM student interns.

Kaitlyn Steward and Jason Hodson both worked with the Chamber in 2013-2014. Kaitlyn interned during Fall Semester and had lots of opportunities to use her social media, marketing, event planning and interpersonal communication skills. Kaitlyn worked with the Non-Profit Committee to plan and execute the Community Resource Expo in October. She also worked on holiday promotions with the Retail Committee and took a lead role in the First Annual Candy Cane Dash, which took place just prior to a long-standing traditional event – the Parade of Lights. Kaitlyn was able to promote and evaluate her events using social media and also researched and developed proposals for the Chamber’s new website. The committees she worked with enjoyed a fresh perspective and renewed energy thanks to Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn translated her experience into a resume that helped her find employment in the marketing and public relations field in the Twin Cities.

Jason worked with the Chamber in the Spring Semester, and was involved in creating and updating a variety of publications and tourism materials. He was also very involved with the planning of Prairie Pioneer Days and worked with that committee in planning new promotions and events for the 30th anniversary. Jason also worked with the Tourism Committee, which gave him exposure to both Chamber and City of Morris operations. Jason added new skills and experience to a resume that helped him get accepted into a marketing program as his new major. He also made some great connections among Chamber members that may develop into a marketing internship for him next year.

This program is a win-win for the interns and the internship sites. Both gain from having real-life opportunities and challenges that are met with fresh, intelligent, educated employees. The Chamber would have been lesser without – and we hope the interns believe they are the richer for – having this experience. The application for an intern again next year is already underway!

Written by Rhoda Smith, Morris Area Chamber of Commerce

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