Venango’s career opportunities pitched to interns

Summer interns were guests at a luncheon hosted by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce.
By JEREMY JOHNSON Staff writer

Lunch was on the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Wanango Golf Club in Reno.

About 60 interns, young professionals and Chamber members attended an intern appreciation luncheon presented by the Chamber and FLEX, the region’s young professionals organization.

“We’d like to express our gratitude to you, the interns, that have come out today, and to the companies that offered these opportunities and experiences in the area,” said Trenton Moulin, the FLEX president and the director of development for the Allegheny Region chapter of the Red Cross. “We’re grateful for all of your support.”

While there was no monetary cost for interns to attend, there was an underlying message — one consisting primarily of logistics — that the Chamber, FLEX and their guest speakers were intent on passing along.

“As you go back to your respective schools and other jobs, just be sure to think about Venango County as you begin to prepare for your professional career,” Moulin said. “Here in (the county) you can make a difference — if that’s important to you — but you can also make a good business and a good living.”

Moulin and other guest speakers (mostly young professionals from the area) discussed some advantages of staying in Venango County after graduating, while dispelling other, nagging stereotypes that they say often drive younger generations elsewhere.

“I grew up here and at the time didn’t even contemplate staying here after I graduated high school — it wasn’t even an option for me,” Moulin said. “Then the stars started aligning for me and I thought about returning. At first I dismissed it, but then I thought ‘You know what? Venango County has a lot to offer.’”

Moulin referred to the county’s expansive outdoor opportunities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, camping, kayaking, cross-country skiing and hunting.

“Whatever you’re into, you have that ability,” Moulin said. “I’ve come to appreciate the green spaces we have here, but I’ve come to appreciate the people, too.”

Other guests spoke in a similar vein, referring to the county’s natural assets, as well as fiscal and business benefits.

For instance, Lucas Salusky of Identity Studio Design in Emlenton said that he and partner Aaron Weeter were able to take advantage of low cost of living costs and lots of space to capitalize on their business vision.

“We always try to do stuff outside of the box , and being in this area has allowed us to do that,” Salusky said.

The old adage that businesses usually have to wait five years to see a profit wasn’t the case for his enterprise, Salusky said.

“In the first year, through the Chamber and business networking, we were able to make a profit,” Salusky said. “The biggest advantage to staying in this area is cost of living.”

Much emphasis was also put on changing perceptions of the area in ways that promote youth involvement and growth.

“Sometimes being true to who you are and the environment you are in is less productive than being true to who you want to be and the environment you want to be in,” said Ryan Jackson of Gonstead Family Chiropractic in Franklin. “The forethought there, I think, stimulates mediocrity, while the latter stimulates growth.”

Guest speakers also provided insight on a variety of area organizations that involve young professionals and promote growth, including area nonprofits, the FLEX group and the Chamber.

“I will say the Chamber is a great opportunity for networking,” said Emily Gill, a FLEX member and creative director of Moxie Media in Reno. “If you feel you want to tap into the community … I’d certainly encourage you to contact the Chamber.”

At least a few of the interns on hand took the message to heart.

“I used to want to go to New York City … but I realized that I didn’t want to leave my family and what I’ve established with my friends,” said Miranda Harrelson, a 19-yearold graduate of Oil City High School and a criminal justice student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “I think I would like living in the city, but deep down this is where I want to stay.”

Eli Good — a 23-year-old intern with a degree in physics and mechanical engineering — was ready to pack up and head to Colorado in a few weeks. A recent job offer as an associate engineer with Joy Manufacturing changed his mind.

“Overall, the area around here, you just can’t beat it,” said Good, who interned with Joy for two years prior to landing his new position.

Susan Williams, the Chamber’s executive director, lauded the success of the luncheon.

“I love the energy of my young professionals and I know all of you here are just a few steps away from being there,” Williams said. “And I hope you will be part of that group in the future.”