If you are on the Chamber’s email list, you undoubtedly have received one of our promotional emails.  Filled with images, colors and fancy print, these “eblasts” or “email marketing campaigns” take time to create and send.  How do we do it with our very small staff?


We have hosted six students over the past four years from Concordia University’s Graphics Design and Art Departments.  As part of their curriculum, students can choose to work at a local business to gain skills and insight into their chosen field.  Students work onsite for twelve hours a week for a semester while remaining under the close supervision of their professors.

At the Chamber, we offer the opportunity to learn our graphics-heavy email marketing software, construct newspaper ads, create art for social media and design various flyers or other marketing collateral we may need.  We have found our interns to be diligent, creative, hard-working and eager to learn.  They are productive and a pleasure to be around.

At the same time, we give them real work that adds value to us and to them.  The stereotype of sending an intern on the daily coffee run or having the intern make copies and stuff envelopes all day just doesn’t hold water in today’s environment.  Taking on an intern is a responsibility.  Sure, you get some great work out of them, but you need to provide resume-worthy real world tasks and mentorship in return.  It is a true partnership between the organization and the university.

Flexibility also is key.  Each of the six interns we have had the pleasure to know is a real person, with different strengths, different work habits, different career goals.  As a mentor, you must be willing to adapt and change things up as needed to create the best possible experience for each student.

This past weekend, we celebrated three of our Concordia interns at their Senior Art Show.  The artwork on display showcased their real talents, humbling our little eBlasts to be sure.  Even so, I was proud that our Chamber had a small role in the education of these fine young people of our community.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...