Youth Career Connect (YCC) is a partnership between local high schools, businesses, the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) and East Cascade Works. YCC is focused on bringing meaningful work experiences to students while assisting businesses in training their future workforce. This “Grow Your Own” movement relies on the support of local organizations to host internships and job shadows. 

In addition to connecting employers and talented students, the YCC team stands ready to provide support services like mentorship and training to ensure interns have the guidance they need to excel in their new roles. YCC can also help employers navigate any challenges that arise during the internship period. 

These intern and job shadow experiences are deeply beneficial for both hosts and students. 

Employer Mark Gross, founder of School of Ranch, shared, “I’m working with the fourth intern that I recruited through the Youth Career Connect program. When a start-up entrepreneur sticks with something, it’s because it’s making a significant impact, not just because it’s a good thing. I rely on these interns to do critical work and to save me time, and have found them to be responsible, willing to take direction, creative, and curious. This program is a win-win-win. Interns get real responsibility in a start-up and a chance to work directly with a successful CEO. My company gets a flexible, trainable team willing to do the blocking and tackling that it takes to implement programs. And through their optimism and energy, I feel renewed confidence in our society’s future. Not a bad deal, all in all.”

This value was echoed by a student who recently completed an internship. They said, “I’m learning not just about the trade but also about communication, tech skills, and business details. It’s a lot of learning and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn all of this. This internship is a blessing.” 

To find out how your organization can support local youth and shape the future of our workforce, contact Greg Bender, COIC Youth Employment Counselor at 541-699-8761 or 

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