The NRV Experience is a seven-week long summer curriculum designed to support employer internship programs by helping their interns grow professionally while also experiencing the full benefits of living and working in the New River Valley.
Through the program, interns are shown just a few of the amenities available to them if they choose to make the NRV home after they graduate. Onward NRV’s goal for the program is to attract and retain talent in the region by promoting the New River Valley as a desirable place to live, work, and do business.
The program expanded from 17 enrolled interns in the inaugural 2020 cohort to 45 enrolled interns for 2021. Students from nine universities across the country participated in the 2021 NRV Experience. More than three-fourths (77%) of the participants attend Virginia Tech, and seven percent attend Radford University.
Other universities represented in this year’s cohort were Georgia Tech, Liberty University, the University of Houston, New York University, the University of Connecticut, Texas A&M, and Louisiana State University.
The 2021 NRV Experience began with a kick-off event at Sinkland Farms on June 3, 2021, and continued through July. At the kick-off event, Onward NRV Director of Marketing Katie Boswell and former Director of Business Engagement James Cabler presented the details of the program to the interns and discussed what to expect during the summer. Interns then received professional development training and practiced networking with the help of Amy Baldwin, Vice President of Partnerships at Exelaration.
Throughout the months of June and July, the interns explored the region by participating in five excursions. Each excursion was designed to highlight one of the five communities in the New River Valley. Onward NRV partnered with the local tourism directors from Floyd County, Giles County, Montgomery County, Pulaski County, and the City of Radford to organize and run the excursions for the interns. During each excursion, the local tourism director spoke to the group about the exciting and unique amenities available in their community.
In addition to experiencing each community during every excursion, the team at Exelaration provided professional development training for the interns. Training was designed to assist participants with their summer internships as well as give them skills needed in their future careers. Prior to each excursion, the interns viewed a professional development video. They then participated in a discussion of the video during the excursion with Baldwin. The videos covered topics that included emotional intelligence, communication skills, problem solving with a team, leadership skills, and an introduction to Agile.
“The NRV Experience 2021 was a great success,” said Boswell. “The interns participating in our program had a fun-filled summer exploring the New River Valley and experiencing the full benefits of living and working in our region. We hope that this summer’s participants will consider making the NRV home after they graduate.”
The NRV Experience 2021 culminated on Friday, July 30, with a wrap-up event at the Eastern Divide Brewing Company from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. A ceremony celebrated the interns, and every intern who graduated from the program received a certificate of completion.
Interns from 15 local companies graduated from the program: the 1901 Group, Automation Creations Inc., Ameriprise Financial, Celanese, Gay & Neel, InMotion, Inorganic Ventures, Kollmorgen, Manufacturing Service Solutions, MELD Manufacturing, Moog, Ozmo, Radford University, TECHLAB, and Wolverine.
After the ceremony, interns had the opportunity to network with their employers, representatives from local alumni groups and young professional organizations.