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Beloved friend of the College Georgie (Parsell) Murray was troubled by an issue in her town of Northport. As crowds of vacationers visited the beautiful shores of the Leelanu Peninsula each summer, there wasn’t a large enough workforce to keep up with the increased demand.

What started as a problem blossomed into an incredible opportunity for Olivet College students and the village of Northport alike — a summer internship program. In the program’s inaugural year, three OC business students spent the summer working with Tom’s Food Market, learning about all aspects of business management firsthand.

“This place multiplies in size over the summer but there’s not enough workers,” Georgie said. “My husband and I started looking at how we could introduce Northport to the next generation. I knew that there were people who would love to summer here and generous friends that would host them, and I started to put the pieces together in my head.

“I knew the program needed to be a win for everyone. The win for the village is to staff the stores, and the win for Olivet is send us students who are bright and engaging that would help the whole community get to know OC. The last piece of the triangle was the students. Many internships are unpaid, but we understood that not everyone could afford that. Thanks to volunteer hosts, we also removed the burden of a housing cost.”

Key planning from Georgie and support from Northport business and the Olivet College community, including Business Administration Department Chair and Assistant Professor Mike Oyster ’77, helped the internship program launch in May 2019.

Georgie also notes special thanks to two families for hosting students — Janet Crane ’62 and Andy and Gloria Thomas. Andy is the son of Grafton ’37 and Ruth (Yotter) ’38 Thomas.

Senior Abigale Smith was attracted to business studies thanks to the flexibility of a degree in the field. She’s focusing her studies in management and plans to use her degree to work in social enterprise.

When she learned about the opportunity to intern in Northport, Abigale saw tremendous potential to expand her network and apply skills she had learned in the classroom to the real world.

“We rotated through every single aspect of the grocery business ranging from stocking shelves, running the registers and ordering products, all the way to spending time at corporate offices, working with the executives, learning about payroll, and sitting in on ad and vendor meetings, Abigale said.

Abigale, right, with student Bailey Saraceno who also interned at Tom’s.

“I’ve gotten to learn firsthand how a business is run, and I have been able to see behind the scenes just what it takes to manage a large, successful business, which I will be able to transfer into my chosen career path. I know that I’ve learned several life lessons throughout this experience, which I will be able to reflect on in the future and be thankful that I had this opportunity.”

In addition, Abigale also forged some personal connections with the Northport community. As OC’s drum major, she jumped at the chance to meet Ken Bloomquist, legendary collegiate director of bands. And, following her passion for suicide prevention, Abigale volunteered with the Traverse City Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

Given an extremely successful inaugural year, Georgie hopes the internship program continues to grow.

Abigale encourages other students to take advantage of the program. She said, “The life lessons you’ll learn and the people you’ll meet will be irreplaceable. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that you’ll be living in a beautiful area where you’re really never more than a mile from the lake.”

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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