Civic Leaders internship program celebrated

PARKERSBURG – A paid internship at the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library courtesy of the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program was more than a way for recent Ohio Valley University graduate Morgan Kirl to stay busy and earn some money the last two summers.

“It is what started my career, honestly,” Kirl said. “It was more like a summer career than a summer job.”

While Friday marked the end of Kirl’s second summer tour with the library, Monday is the first day of her new full-time job there as assistant audio-visual cataloguer.

“We just watched her over the year. She just fit into the library,” said Lynn Roberts, audio-visual librarian for the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library.

Kirl was among 29 interns from around the Mid-Ohio Valley who participated in the third year of the program, which is organized by Our Community’s Foundation and funded through grants and donations. The interns, hosts, contributors and other participants were recognized Friday during a luncheon at the Blennerhassett Hotel.

The program was established three years ago as a way to link area college students with business, nonprofit and government entities to give them real-world experience in their fields of interest, said Jim Strader, director of the program.

“The over-arching goal really is to try to (get) our best and our brightest to stay at home and find a job if it is possible,” he said.

Forty-two students applied for the program this year, with 15 first-timers accepted, at least one each from Wood, Washington, Calhoun, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler and Wirt counties. They joined eight second- and six third-year participants, working with businesses and entities throughout the region.

The interns’ salaries come from grants and donations supporting the program.

“It does not take (money) that would be used for other programs” from the foundation, Strader said. “It is a paid internship at no cost to the business, nonprofit or government organization.”

Michael Cordonier, a 2012 Parkersburg High School graduate studying electrical engineering at West Virginia University, spent the seven weeks of his internship working in the City of Parkersburg’s development office. He assisted in gathering information for planning projects related to sidewalks and bicycle routes, among other things, said John Whitmore, city planner.

“He was a wonderful asset not only for the development department, but also the City of Parkersburg,” Whitmore said.

Cordonier said the work did not align 100 percent with his field of study, but he found the experience positive and beneficial.

“I still will be able to use it in the future, and I’m really glad I had this opportunity,” he said.

Roane County resident Taylor Norman is studying political science at Marshall University and intends to become a lawyer. She interned this summer for Spencer attorney Anita Harold Ashley.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Norman said. “I learned so much from this experience – more than you would from a typical summer job. … It really reassured me that I’m on the right track.”

Ashley said she’d never been in a courtroom when she went to college and wished she’d had an experience like Norman’s to help her determine her career path a little sooner.

“She just exceeded all expectations,” Ashley said.