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Lansing 5:01 Help interns, young professionals find work-life balance

Imagine you are a college student ready to start your business career in some type of internship. In this exciting phase of your life, where do you turn for advice and assistanc…

Imagine you are a college student ready to start your business career in some type of internship. In this exciting phase of your life, where do you turn for advice and assistance? According to Founder and Executive Director Chris Sell, that place is Lansing 5:01, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to attract talented young professionals into the Lansing area.

Research and experience have shown Sell many college grads look for a suitable place to live that they can love, prior to searching for employment. Therefore, it’s vital to show these young professionals all the opportunities Lansing can offer potential employees for recreation, living, nightlife, cultural activities and entertainment.

“I found out about Lansing 5:01 through my internship at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union,” said Jared Davis, one of the interns helped by the program. “It has helped me network with many professionals in the Lansing area and has helped me develop professionally, as well as show me what a cool place Lansing is.”

Today’s Workers Want More Than Just a Job

According to Sell, having job satisfaction is only half the equation for millennials joining the workforce. He stressed that people today want to have a sense of place, and they prefer living in communities with a vibrant, urban core. 

“I started a new job at Michigan State University in 2013, where I worked with local employers to recruit talent for internships at local businesses,” said Sell. “Because of my previous experience working in university career services, I knew other regions throughout the state had programs connecting college interns to the live/work/play qualities of those respective communities. So, when I found out nothing like that existed in Lansing, I set out to change that.”

Lansing 5:01 Showcases Area Amenities

In November 2015, Sell assembled a group passionate about their community to help fulfill the vision of creating programming for Lansing. Lansing 5:01 set out on its maiden voyage in June 2016. 

Why 5:01? Lansing has many things to do and see after the workday ends at 5 p.m. Lansing 5:01 aims to introduce potential employees to local amenities such as recreational facilities, night-life opportunities and the types of living accommodations available. They also bring these young professionals together with community leaders through extraordinary events, as well as highlight cultural offerings like the thriving arts scene, various social events, opportunities for entrepreneurs, etc.

“New technology, the ‘gig’ economy, talent preferences — these are all contributing factors to the emerging trends around better work-life balance in the workforce,” said Sell.  “It’s important that Lansing positions itself as a community leader in that space, if it is to be successful in attracting and retaining talent.” 

Lansing 5:01 Partners with Local Businesses

Businesses want to do more than just hire someone; they want their employees to love where they live and play when they are not at work. Having this kind of balance makes happier employees, and a happier employee makes a better worker. Lansing 5:01 currently partners with more than 20 sponsors in the Lansing area. 

“Lansing 5:01 wouldn’t exist without the support of local employer partners,” stressed Sell. “We are very grateful to count many of the region’s larger companies and organizations as sponsors. In turn, we provide value-added programming for employers’ interns and young professionals to ensure they have a great experience in the Lansing region.” 

Variety of Special Events, Support Draws Potential Workers

Since starting in 2016, Lansing 5:01 has welcomed nearly 2,000 interns and young professionals to its events. According to Sell, 66 percent of the college interns who attended 5:01 programming in 2017 weren’t originally from the tri-county area. 

“The events this past summer might have been their very first experience with our community,” said Sell. “It’s really important we collectively ‘roll out the red carpet,’ and make sure they have a great first impression of the city.”

Some of the ways Lansing 5:01 showcases the area are through events such as Bridgefest, which featured a concert, urban kayaking, food-truck rally, vendor expo and local artists. Another event that brought a lot of people in was Runway on the Runway, a fashion show held at the Capital Region International Airport. Each event drew people from 30 different colleges and universities, with some from outside of Michigan. 

“I went to a fashion show at the Lansing airport called Runway on the Runway. I didn’t even know Lansing had an airport until the event,” said Davis. “I also got to participate in my first Silent Disco, took a tour of Old Town and saw how cool of a neighborhood it is. Many of the events have even had speakers who give great professional advice.”

All in all, Lansing 5:01 encourages, supports and introduces potential employees and new residents to all the Lansing area has to offer for its residents and workers. For more information on Lansing 5:01, visit lansing501.com.


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