For Evergreen alumnus Kyle Wiese ‘13, an internship during his junior year opened the doors to his career.
Wiese is a project manager for the Thurston Economic Development Council, based out of the South Puget Sound Community College campus in Lacey. He and his team work to bolster Thurston County’s economy in many different ways.
“One of the most consistent pieces of work that I do is business outreach and strategizing with local businesses for the purpose of their retention [within Thurston County],” Wiese said.
Wiese and his team recently began implementing the Thurston Community Economic Alliance Strategic Plan, which focuses on improving many different facets of industry within the county.
“Going into this next year, I’ll be focusing on industry growth and innovation,” Wiese said. “This means we’ll be trying to help industries grow and expand and also trying to recruit new industries into Thurston County to keep dollars circulating locally.”
Wiese helps conduct rigorous research to determine which organizations are likely candidates for outreach and partnership.
“We determine viable business candidates by identifying gaps and opportunities in the supply chain of Thurston County businesses and how much of their supply chain, in terms of dollar amounts, is spent outside of Thurston County,” he said.
Wiese didn’t always know what sort of work he wanted to do. In fact, it wasn’t for a career that he first applied to Evergreen, it was for soccer.
“I was scouted by Evergreen while I was playing soccer for Prairie High School,” he said. “I played my whole four years at Evergreen and by my junior year I was asked to be captain of the team.”
Michael Cade, the executive director of the Thurston Economic Development Council, was the person who opened the door for the undergraduate Wiese to intern at the organization and, later, hired him after he graduated from Evergreen.
“I attended a presentation by Michael on [the Evergreen] campus and was won over by the direction of his organization,” Wiese said.
Wiese hadn’t considered working for a community organization before Cade’s talk.
“After the talk, I asked Michael what it would take to be a part of his organization,” Wiese said. “He asked me to write an essay about how I would improve Thurston County’s economy if given the chance.”
After writing the essay in his junior year he was offered an internship. During his senior year, he let his work as an intern inform the structure of his education.
“That internship was one of the most important things in furthering my education and career,” he said. “I’d identified that I wanted to do an internship. I aligned my studies senior year around the work that I did.”
For current students who are wary about their first steps into the working world, Wiese thinks gaining experience is the key.
“Go out there and get your feet wet,” he said. “I was shaking the first time I conducted a business retention survey but now it’s just part of my every day. The big thing is to get out there and get experience.”