Lakeshore Advantage introduces Gentex interns to their new home in West Michigan

With games like West Michigan Bingo and the Price is Right, nearly 90 Gentex interns learned more about all that West Michigan has to offer during a summer kickoff event last week.

As the group of college students shouted out how many disc golf courses or breweries they thought West Michigan has to offer or how much a day at the beach would cost, they learned about their home for the summer.

“It was all new to me,” Gentex intern Jackie Silverstone says. 

She is excited to explore both the breweries and the trails, she says.

Silverstone was drawn to West Michigan. 

“I thought it would be cool to move out here and have a new experience,” she says.

Gentex, itself, was also a draw for her, she says.

More than an internship

Gentex summer interns will participate in a series of teambuilding events to get to know each other better and to explore the area. Because of the global pandemic, the event — now in its sixth year — was outdoors at the “bowl” at Lawrence Street Park in Zeeland, where there was plenty of room for social distancing.

This summer, Gentex will have 86 interns from 23 different colleges and universities. Of those, 10 are from out of state.
“Gentex is a place where interns can learn from excellent mentors, experience the excitement of hands-on work in their field of study, and have the opportunity to investigate all the wonders of life along the lakeshore,” says Seth Bushouse, Gentex’s Senior Director of Human Resources.

Each intern received a goody bag of fun stuff to continue exploring the region, including a “choose your own adventure” guide and Ottawa County Parks-donated park passes.

Lakeshore Advantage

“By piggy-backing on Gentex’s internship experience today, we were able to add technicolor to their West Michigan summer living experience,” says Emily Staley, 
Director of Marketing and Communications at economic development nonprofit Lakeshore Advantage, which organized the event.

Haley Abbas, who, herself, was an intern for Lakeshore Advantage in 2017, and is now a full-time employee, led the gameshow-style presentation that highlighted West Michigan employers, amenities, and products made here. Current Lakeshore Advantage intern Zoie Gossett assisted.
The program, now in its sixth year, encourages interns to envision what life would be like accepting a job and living here after graduation.

With a population growth of nearly 12% between 2010 and 2020, Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in the state. About half the growth was due to births, but half was due to people moving into the area. (Allegan County is the fourth fastest growing county in the state.)

Wallet Hub lists West Michigan as one of the 50 best metro areas for STEM professionals.

Gentex, the largest employer in Allegan and Ottawa counties.

“These interns are gaining valuable work experience this summer, and they will have a choice of where they want to start their careers upon graduation,” Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens says. “This program informs and stirs curiosity in partnership with their employer and Ottawa County Parks, to begin to develop the full picture of the great work, live and play experience they can expect should they choose to start their careers in West Michigan.”
Lauren Galloway is a West Michigan native who is looking forward to showing her new friends the West Michigan beaches in between her internship days at Gentex.

“This is the first summer I’ve had weekends off, so I have a bucket list,” she says.

Other internship opportunities in the region are available through Hello West Michigan. They will host a half day virtual intern professional development conference on June 23.

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.