The City of Lynchburg & CloudFit Are Changing the Game in Workforce Development and Economic Recovery
We spoke with Matt Loflin, Vice President at CloudFit who oversees the internship program, to find out more about this innovative solution to talent development and retention.
What exactly is JobFit?
JobFit is a 501c3 charity that is about “providing hope and opportunity to adults using jobs as the enabler”. JobFit is focused on Information Technology, Cloud, and Computer Science jobs in the Central Virginia Region. JobFit serves Central Virginia by focusing programs on middle school students, high school students, college students, and career changers. JobFit’s programs enable participants to learn age-and-skill-appropriate aspects of technology to prepare them for roles in the workforce. JobFit (in partnership with CloudFit Software, LLC) offers paid internships to high school students, college students and career changers each summer which allows individuals to learn, and to be mentored.
This is your 4th iteration of the internship program…can you provide an overview of the program, and how it has gone in previous years?
Our Summer Internship program is on its 4th iteration of focusing on high school students, college students, and career-changers, and the program has had 2, 5, 8, and now 15 paid summer interns per year. It’s a paid, 10-week program where we intentionally group the interns into Project Teams. They deliver real-world projects, attend weekly training & knowledge sharing sessions, are coached one on one and in team breakout groups, and attend events in the city (Hillcats Games, Movies in the Park, City Council, etc.). This year we’re adding on a “SERVE” component where we’ll be partnering with the Jubilee Center each week with CloudFit employees and Interns teaching middle school students various aspects surrounding technology.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of fruit from this approach. It not only helps provide real work experiences that have enabled some interns to further pinpoint where they want to go with their careers; we’ve also seen interns return to the Lynchburg area for full-time employment. We’ve additionally seen some [interns] go on to work across the nation at other companies such as SpaceX, Meta, HP, Google, and various Government Agencies.
This year has almost doubled in size, and the EDA is proud to help fund 5 of those intern positions. How do you select candidates and where do they come from?
We’re so thankful for the EDA partnership and for us being able to impact even more lives this summer. While doubling in size is awesome, I think it’s just the beginning! If it there was only one intern, that would be enough – but going to 15 this year is amazing. Word of mouth has made it to where we get a ton of applicants; this year alone we had 60+ applicants interviewing for the spots we had available. I hope we don’t have to turn away 45+ next year though – I’m sure the continued growth of JobFit and ongoing partnerships will help us on that front.
The selection process is typically a two-round interview process that the candidate goes through. We believe that every step of the process is an opportunity for someone to learn. So, we held at least one round for almost every applicant this year. That gives candidates interview experience and an opportunity to work on their resumes.
For selection criteria, we think about (1) Team, (2) Location, and (3) Experience:
i. To enable Team, we need at least a Program Manager, a few Developers, and a few Site Reliability Engineers on each team; this naturally filters down the selection process by role.
ii. For Location, we are keenly focused on Lynchburg area candidates for the near term. The internship is in person, and everyone is required to be in the Lynchburg area for the summer.
iii. For Experience, we are intentional about enabling some high schoolers with summer jobs and experience, we want to partner well with all the Colleges/Universities for some roles and want to enable Career Changes as well.
You’ve expanded the program to include volunteer opportunities at the Jubilee Center. What will that aspect of the program look like and how does this align with CloudFit values?
CloudFit exists to give back. It’s a huge part of why CloudFit exists and why we’re building it the way that we are – to give back. The opportunity to continue partnering with Jubilee Center…what an awesome program they have for the community!
This summer we’ve worked with Jubilee to create a weekly 2-hour program where our employees & interns will come over and teach middle schoolers various aspects of technology. Whether that’s software programming, the components of a desktop, or online security – we’re looking forward to the summer program and it’ll be great to see those middle schoolers coming through the internship program one day and grow to be the future leaders of tech in this region.
Another big piece of the internship (besides learning the job) is community engagement. What types of experiences are you looking forward to with the interns?
Last year we took part in the 4th of July, we supported the veterans that meet every Friday on Monument Terrace, we had some interns go play disc golf in local parks, as well as play golf in the area. For this year, in addition to Jubilee as already noted, we’re expanding to include Movies in the Park, going to a Hillcats Game, and working with the EDA on other opportunities for community involvement.
The jobs learned in this program can be beneficial to many industries – can you share why JobFit is a good business investment from the perspective of other companies?
While we’re focused on program management, software development, and site reliability engineering – the broader skills of working together as a team, professional presentation & communication, working through business problems, and being involved in your community have proven to be a differentiator for program participants.
It is also true that almost every business today, no matter the industry, depends upon technology—email, internet, mobile phones, banking, etc. And therefore, every company needs the skills that JobFit is currently teaching in the IT, Cloud, and computer science tracks.
As a business, you’re always on the lookout for passionate, driven, intelligent, and caring team members. We’ve seen firsthand that participants coming out of the JobFit programs showcase those characteristics and can hit the ground running in real-world environments. Our hope is that this program continues to prove that the Lynchburg area is filled with a very high caliber of technical talent that is not only retained in the area but is also able to continue to attract an increasing number of business opportunities to the area.
Meet some of the Interns