Number 5: Hire them for summer jobs and internships. Help them find a spot. They often would prefer to come home because they have housing available with family. Ask your local employers and chamber members what jobs and internships may be available for students. Send a note to students at their home address over winter break to let them know about the opportunity and how to apply. When students are home for the summer organize a few activities for them in your region. Again, this doesn’t need to be over programed, but an invitation to regional activities like concerts, minor league baseball games, canoe trips, and service projects are good ways for students to learn about what your region has to offer.   

*This post is part of the series featuring 6 simple ways to start attracting your future leaders today. You can read the previous posts here 

A significant factor for every college student making decisions about their summer plans is housing. This is a huge opportunity for your region because you already have the most affordable housing that an 18-21-year-old could ask for—the bedroom that they grew up in.   

In this series we are making the case that Indiana regions have a strategic opportunity to attract college graduates by focusing on your region’s “homegrown” young adults. One of the most significant steps that a region can take is to be intentional about developing talent pipelines through summer jobs and internships. Students are inclined to come home, particularly after their freshman year. This is because living at home and working at a grocery store, restaurant, or lawn care company is a smart way for them to save some money. This is a golden opportunity for a strategically minded region to market summer jobs to the homegrown students away at college.  

In my decade of providing professional development to college students I have worked with students with many different majors who return home to work summer jobs after their freshman year. These students develop work ethic and durable skills while also reducing their debt. In short, these are exactly the kind of students that recruiters are attempting to discover when they travel to campuses each year. (Camp Tecumseh in Carroll County communicates this so well in this recruiting video!) 

What might the strategy be for a region, county, or city focused on an intentional movement to build relationships with these students during the summer? One objective could be for community leaders to invite these students to consider returning for a major-specific internship the following summer.   

These relationships can be developed while also strategically highlighting your region. Communities who do this well will create experiences for the students that reveal to them the quality of life that could exist for them after college. Organizing meet ups during the local concert on the lawn, a ball game, or a day at a lake house could also allow local leaders to engage with students. Consider this program example from Allen County.   

To reiterate, this series is meant to provide examples of intentional, inexpensive steps that any region can take to attract talent.   

Your region has affordable housing, employment, and invested community leaders. I believe those are ingredients that every student finishing their freshman year would benefit from. Do they know that you would like to see them back in town this summer?   

What if communities recruited students back home for summer jobs and then invited them to return for an internship? When local student internships increase, could those students convert into fulltime employees? I think these are important questions that any intentional community should consider.  

If your community has additional strategies for this challenge, email us and let us know. We’d love to share your story. 

Jeff Eads is the Director for Industry Engagement at Ball State University.