GFW Fellows Program Attracts Young Talent

Area college students connect with local businesses.
Feb 1, 2016

In its inaugural year, the GFW Fellows program resulted in four job offers, five invitations for return summer internships in 2016, and three offers for part-time employment through the 2015-2016 school year for area college students. As the program continues in 2016, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. is again finding opportunities to connect young talent to committed area businesses.

GFW Fellows is a year-long experience that connects high potential students with Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. investors committed to talent development and retention. The program utilizes dedicated 12-week summer internship experiences as admission into the fellowship. In addition to their internships, the Fellows are provided free summer housing, participate in personal development, civic engagement and networking opportunities designed to develop the Fellows’ attachment to the Fort Wayne community.

This year’s Fellows group includes one senior, 12 juniors and seven sophomores, coming from nine area schools: Ball State University, Butler University, Huntington University, Indiana Tech, IPFW, Manchester University, Olivet Nazarene University, Taylor University and Trine University. The group’s gender and racial diversity is reflected in the nearly equal numbers of male and female Fellows (nine and 11 respectively), as well as the variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds included in the group.

“We’re excited to see the diversity in the class,” says Justin Clupper, director of signature programs. “We believe a diverse class provides unique experiences as each person brings their own viewpoints to the program.”

The Fellows host employers include 15 organizations with some hosting not just one but two interns. The Fellows are working in internship positions that cover a multitude of roles and industries including engineering, human resources, marketing and social media, software and information systems, insurance underwriting, accounting and more.

Host employers provide exceptional internship experiences built around specific learning outcomes developed in partnership with education professionals. For the students, these paid internship opportunities provide high-quality work experience, while the host employers receive support to accomplish projects. 

As part of the paid internship, the students have additional professional development opportunities through a mentor relationship within the company. The mentor is there to help the Fellow understand their career path and options at the host company.

“Last year, when we first asked students why they chose to be a part of the Fellows program, the response was overwhelmingly the fact that it came with a paid internship,” Clupper says. “At the end of the year, when I watched an employer ask about what sets them apart as a Fellow, the Fellows responded with the personal development workshops. Our universities are working hard to give them the skills and tools to be job-ready and our workshops take them to the next level, giving them the soft skills that prepare them for the work environment.”

The Fellows personal development workshops take place monthly and feature an assortment of community and business leaders presenting on a variety of topics including business etiquette, critical thinking and problem solving, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, project management and financial literacy.

GFW Inc. is accepting host employers for the next GFW Fellows group. For more information, contact Justin Clupper at (260) 420-6945 or jclupper@greaterfortwaynenic.com. Or visit the GFW Fellows website at gfwfellows.com.


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