Marion program encourages young professionals to keep their talents local

The Marion Economic Development Corporation's program, Community Promise, helps connects young people to their aspiring careers through local businesses.

"I was there from when they opened until they closed and it was just the best opportunity for me," said Vi Phan, a senior at Linn-Mar High School.

Vi Phan is talking about her experience at Family Smile Care Center, a local dentist's office where she job-shadowed last summer.

"It just helped me with my confidence. I was able to come into a professional environment and really know how to carry myself and know how to interact with other adults,” said Phan.

She was connected with the office through the Marion Economic Development Corporation's Community Promise, a program designed to help local high school students see what their community has to offer professionally.

"We have so many adult professionals in our community that really have that attitude of ‘I want to help you,’” said Nick Glew, President of MEDCO.

About 50 high school students participated in the program last year and were invited to MEDCO’s luncheon to network with other local businesses.

"I think anytime you put that many high school students in a room full of business professionals, it's inspirational," said Glew.

The program made it possible for these students to shadow at local businesses and to form mentorships with professionals. It's this relationship Marion leaders hope these students remember.

"They are our future and we want to make sure that the youth that we have here are equipped to be successful here. We want them to stay here,” said Glew.

It already looks like some of them are thinking that way.

"I want to come back to Cedar Rapids and open up my own practice,” said Vi Phan. “I'm really, really hoping to get the opportunity to work with the homeless and underprivileged."

Today MEDCO unveiled their next phase for this project, which includes pursuit grants that—along with assistance from their mentors—will help these students financially further their education.

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