In January 2015, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., launched an all-new talent retention program: the GFW Fellows. The goal is to help investors connect to high-quality talent for project-based summer internships that may lead to a full-time job offer.
The GFW Fellows is much more than an internship program; it is about offering college students the opportunity to experience the greater Fort Wayne community in a truly unique way. Participating in social activities and service projects during the summer months, and attending personal development workshops focused on soft skills during the school year. The GFW Fellows program allows the students to connect with each other as well as community and business leaders in meaningful ways.
A key measure of success for the GFW Fellows program is to see how many students remain in Fort Wayne after graduation. As the second cohort wraps up their experience this year, take a look at what two members of the first cohort are doing today.
Nic grew up in Shipshewana, Ind., and as a junior informatics major at Trine University, he applied for the GFW Fellows. His application met the three criteria of being a GFW Fellow: he was an on-campus leader, committed to community service, and had a GPA over 3.0. By securing a summer internship with Franklin Electric, working in its IT Division, Nic became a GFW Fellow. That May, he and the rest of the Fellows moved to Fort Wayne for the summer, living in the provided apartments, and started his 12-week internship.
He performed so well in his internship that Franklin Electric quickly made him an offer of employment when he graduated the following year, in May 2016. Nic said yes to Franklin Electric because it’s a global organization with a lot of opportunity and he loves being in Fort Wayne.
“I love that Fort Wayne is a growing city and is focused on projects to improve the city even more,” Nic said.
From the first time GFW Fellows program staff spoke with Trey, they knew he was a passionate entrepreneur ready to take the world by storm. While he studied finance at Trine, he stayed very active in a variety of ways, including serving as the president of the university’s American Marketing Association chapter, and becoming a finalist in the Innovation One Challenge. He applied for the GFW Fellows program to develop his business skills and become better acquainted with Fort Wayne.
While his summer internship experience didn’t result in a job at graduation, he gained the confidence to go out on his own launching his own business.
“The Fellows connected me with several executives, two of which, a CEO and CFO, offered advice and support on multiple occasions,” Trey said. “The skills I acquired while a GFW Fellow, as well as the connections I established, have made the start-up process run much more smoothly.”
While Nic and Trey are the same age and attended the same school, they didn’t know each other before connecting through the GFW Fellows program. And when Nic received a full-time job offer from Franklin Electric, Trey knew he’d have a friend in Fort Wayne. The two friends now share an apartment and love living and working in Fort Wayne.
The GFW Fellows program connects students to opportunities both in companies and in greater Fort Wayne. The students participate in community service, personal development programs, and make life-long friends and connections. For more information about the program, visit www.gfwfellows.com.