CARIBOU - Two Aroostook County college students now have a better idea of initiatives of the Aroostook Partnership for Progress (APP) and LEADers Encouraging Aroostook Development (LEAD) after completing summer paid internships with the organizations.
Encouraging more paid internships in Aroostook County as a way of retaining some of the region's best and brightest is a focus of APP and its many partners, including LEAD, and since actions speak louder than words, Ian Thibeault of Caribou and Lucas Anderson of Houlton were hired.
Thibeault, a University of Maine at Fort Kent student, spent the summer working on Opportunities Aroostook, an ambitious project to help grow the 18- to -44-year-old population in the region through a social media campaign, job-posting website and workforce development efforts.
APP/LEAD Summer Intern Ian Thibeault of Caribou.
In the first step of the project, Thibeault created social media sites, which highlight jobs, events, quality of life and other reasons to locate or return to Aroostook County.
Once the social media component grows, a more formal jobs website, created by Northern Maine Media in Houlton, will go online.
Opportunities Aroostook grew out of the APP "Education to Industry" initiative, which looks to connect high school and college students with emerging jobs in The County, but even if the region retained every student, projections indicate there still wouldn't be a large enough workforce to meet needs.
"Exposure to jobs in the region whether it be job shadowing, internships or business mentoring is invaluable," said LEAD Executive Director Ryan Pelletier. "Students need to be made aware of the opportunities that exist to make better informed decisions about their own career paths. LEAD is leading by example in making sure we offer these types of internship programs and encourage our members to do their part in working with local schools and colleges to make connections and provide more work experiences for these students."
APP President Bob Dorsey said, in addition to job exposure, he valued getting the younger generations perspective on some of
the APP focus areas.
"Their inputs were interesting and encouraging," he said.
"I think internships are an important part of the educational process," Thibeault said. "They help the student learn more about the career he or she is studying and gives them some hands-on experience. This can help that person decide which career is a good fit for them or if they need to find something else."
Anderson, who attends Bryant College in Rhode Island, worked on a number of different projects including updating a database on agricultural businesses in Aroostook County, assisting the planning department at Northern Maine Development Commission and researching past public relations efforts of APP.
APP/NMDC summer paid intern Lucas Anderson.
Anderson, who has shown an interest in a human relations career, was also introduced to HR representatives from manufacturing, insurance and healthcare in conjunction with his APP internship.
"Depending on the student, internships are a great way to encourage younger people to stay in The County," said Anderson. "Purely based on exposure and knowledge of job openings, internships should help ease youth back to region."