Trying to keep young talent in "the best city in the world"

With the end of summer right around the corner, many college students are finishing up their seasonal internships and heading back to their respective campuses. Some who had internships and co-ops around Greater Cincinnati are leaving with a better picture of what Cincinnati can offer them long-term — or so the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber hopes.
The Chamber’s Cincinnati Intern Network Connection (CINC) helps area interns find connections and make lasting relationships in Cincinnati. A variety of events this summer allowed students to meet each other and network with local businesses while enjoying fun attractions, with the purpose of motivating them to live and work in Cincinnati once they graduate.
“We want to make Cincinnati more sticky,” the Chamber’s Talent Programs Manager Jules Shumate says. “In other words, our mission is to keep young talent in Cincinnati. What better way to do this than to show interns around Cincinnati what the city has to offer first-hand?”
According to the Chamber, 900 interns and co-ops, 200 different Greater Cincinnati companies, 150 universities and 40 countries participated in this summer’s CINC program. While most interns were undergraduate juniors and seniors ages 19 to 21, the program represented several generations, with the oldest intern being 59.
With the goal of appealing to a diverse group of interns, the summer program consisted of four main events: a banquet at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, a BB Riverboat cruise, a Cincinnati Reds game with a view from the new Fioptics Rooftop Deck and a final networking session with more than 40 local businesses and community leaders.
I participated in CINC as a Soapbox intern, a public relations and journalism student at Kent State University and a Cincinnati native.
It didn’t take me more than a few minutes into the first event to realize that I was the only public relations/journalism intern in CINC. In fact, it seemed as though I was the only non-business, accounting or engineering intern at each event — it was difficult for me to blend in and observe because I stuck out fairly easily.
I was also one of few local natives among the interns. A large percentage of participants were students at Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati, but only a small number had grown up in this area.
As a born-and-bred Cincinnatian, I was fascinated to re-experience my city through the eyes of those new to it. It was both nostalgic and novel for me to participate in each event.
Going to a Reds game — a victory, no less — was something I hadn’t done since childhood. Getting the chance to explore Xavier’s ever-growing and improving campus was something I’d never thought to do before. And navigating downtown streets to find the Chamber’s headquarters proved to be harder than it should have been for a native.
My favorite activity by far was the BB Riverboat cruise, something I’d never gotten the chance but always wanted to do. Travelling down the Ohio River and seeing the city and surrounding hills is a breathtaking sight, one I often overlook when I see it all of the time driving into downtown. That was my biggest takeaway from the CINC program: Sometimes a person can forget what her city has to offer until she sees it through the eyes of a newcomer.
I was impressed by the multitude of business and community leaders who came to network with us interns during the final event. While each leader represented his or her respective business or organization, the conversations always offered a personal perspective around why they’d chosen to live in Cincinnati, why Cincinnati was the perfect city for their business or organization and how Cincinnati served as the perfect backdrop for their personal and professional lives.
Those personal touches reminded me of why I love Cincinnati in the first place, and I’m sure they helped to convince other interns to fall in love with the city as well.
Community leaders also had the opportunity to speak with interns directly, including Mortar Co-Founder and Managing Director Derrick Braziel, P&G Product Design Engineer Sonam Patel and Easter Seals TriState Marketing Specialist Kate Elliott. Each highlighted the potential benefits Cincinnati has to offer future college graduates on both professional and personal levels.
Braziel, who moved to Cincinnati in 2013 from Indianapolis, had especially positive things to say about his new home.
“I’m just going to say it: I think Cincinnati is the best city in the world,” he said at the Cintas Center banquet. “And I think that once people see what this city has to offer them, they’ll agree with me.”
Elliott shared her professional transition from music major to preschool teacher to communications and marketing specialist and how Cincinnati was the perfect place for her to grow into her chosen profession. She also explained that Cincinnati offers a lot for those looking to start a family.
“Cincinnati is a great place to settle down, get married and raise kids,” Elliott said. “Which means a lot when you’re looking for an area in which to live.”
Many of the participating interns had positive things to say about the CINC program and their summer in Cincinnati.
“It’s definitely been a great networking experience,” said Jacob Allen, a Miami University student interning for Ernst & Young. “But more than that, I’ve made long-term friendships with people who I think I could still keep in touch with years down the road.”
Puerto Rico native and University of Puerto Rico student Nicole Castiel, an intern with Procter & Gamble, said that CINC helped her to connect with other interns from the island.
“It can be hard coming to a new city and not knowing anybody,” she said. “It’s been nice to be able to experience Cincinnati with people that are in the same situation as I am.”
Shumate confirmed that the CINC program will return next summer, with details to come. Follow the program here.

Abigail Winternitz, an Anderson Township native, is studying public relations and journalism at Kent State University.
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