Local engineering company prides itself on hiring local

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A local engineering company says they are putting more emphasis on hiring people from the Stateline, including their interns.

Fehr Graham opened in Freeport in 1973, since then the company says it is important to hire local talent. The company says they want to hire people from the community who want to give back to the place they love, that includes their interns.

"It's a really great opportunity", says Charity Voskuil, an engineering intern at Fehr Graham. "I wasn't expecting to get an internship this early in college, and so it means a lot that I was able to get one".

Voskuil, a soon to be sophomore at Iowa Sate University says her experience at Fehr Graham has taught her more than she thought it would.

"I've learned quite a bit here that I probably wouldn't have learned at school", says Voskuil. She says this opportunity is giving her a leg up on her classmates when she returns to school in the fall. "I think it helps when I got into classes to know what stuff is, because I've seen it before in the office instead of learning about it in the classroom".

Voskuil isn't alone in getting ahead of the curve, Ellie Macklin, another intern at Fehr Graham says she's more prepared now for her college classes since interning at the engineering company.

"I guess I never realized how complicated a water system is, because I hadn't learned about it in school yet", says Macklin.

Both Voskuil and Macklin are from the Stateline, and having local talent is something company chairman, Mick Gronewold says important to Fehr Graham. Gronewold started as an intern with the company and says there are benefits to coming back to a place we are born and raised in.

"A lot of the interns that come work for us, we do hire them on after graduation", says Gronewold. "A lot of them have elevated up to leadership roles throughout the firm".

For Voskuil and Macklin, the opportunity of a job after school is something they say they can look forward to after graduation.

"It's encouraging because it's not like one and done" You have a promise pretty much that they're going to be here for you next summer or in the future".

"We have a responsibility to encourage kids to pursue STEM related degrees," says Gronewold. "Giving them a job during college helps keep them engaged during that pursuit to get to graduation."

Fehr Graham now has 10 offices between Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin with nearly 200 employees. The company says about 10% of their employees started as interns.

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