ChooseATL After 5 Program opens doors for interns
Atlanta area interns take advantage of unique opportunity to network

Photo by Akshay Gopalakrishnan, Metro Atlanta Chamber

With the goal to attract young tech talent to the Atlanta area, The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s ChooseATL initiative has relaunched a program to show Atlanta area interns all the city has to offer after hours called ChooseATL After 5.

ChooseATL After 5  began last summer as a way to immerse interns into Atlanta lifestyle and culture through a variety of events during the summer. Kate Atwood, executive director of ChooseATL, feels it’s important to give interns the opportunity to meet new people and explore the city during their internships.

“We started ChooseATL After 5 as a way to introduce interns to all that Atlanta has to offer, alongside the job opportunities. This way, when they do graduate, with an affinity leaning towards Atlanta, they’re more likely to choose our metro as their permanent home,” Atwood said.

Interns network at the first ChooseATL After 5 event. Photo Credit: Akshay Gopalakrishnan, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Atwood said that this year, there are approximately 900 interns and more than 12 partner companies participating in the program, which will host eight events this summer. For Atwood, the goal of the program is to get interns acclimated to the Atlanta lifestyle, with the hope that they will settle in the area after graduation.

“Once exposed to all the opportunities that this city holds – from job opportunities to low cost of living and top ranked music and food scenes – our hope is that interns will choose to start or maintain their lives here in metro Atlanta,” Atwood said.

Atwood believes partner companies have helped a lot in the growth of the program. “The number of programs we’re offering has nearly tripled and we’re expecting about 80 percent more interns to participate. Each year, we want to grow the program in a way that continues to benefit a new class of interns and exposes them to all the opportunities that Atlanta has to offer,” Atwood said.

Interns network at the first ChooseATL After 5 event. Photo Credit: Akshay Gopalakrishnan, Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Zach Cottmeyer, a rising senior at the University of Georgia and an intern at VMware AirWatch, decided to join the program after one of his friends invited him to one of the networking events and realized it would be a great opportunity to make connections and improve his professional skills.

“I think that it is an interesting way to meet people my age who are pushing themselves in their careers. I met a lot of interesting people from all over the world at the first event,” Cottmeyer said. “It definitely helps to give me confidence in myself and my ability to hold my space in a professional environment. It can be nerve-racking sometimes when you are getting into the real world, so having an opportunity to practice basic interpersonal skills with people my own age is huge.”

Cottmeyer will be returning to UGA in the fall to finish his bachelor’s in management information systems and hopes to work in the Atlanta after graduation. He encourages interns to take advantage of the opportunities the ‘ChooseATL After 5’ program offers.

“Step out of your comfort zone. As I said earlier, it can be terrifying to try and step out of what you’ve grown accustomed to in college. The world is a big place, and it takes practice to know how to best maneuver it. I’ve found some of my best experiences have come at times when I am the most uncomfortable,” Cottmeyer said.

Atwood encourages recent college graduates to take advantages of their young years and enjoy them before it’s too late.

“As a person who started a non-profit business at a young age, I would also say the early days are the days to take risks. As you get older, it gets a little harder to take those big risks.  So be bold in your early years. One of the things I love about Atlanta is that because of the low cost of living (in comparison to other major metros), you can still maintain a good quality of life if you are a young entrepreneur,” Atwood said.

For more information about upcoming ChooseATL After 5 events, click here.



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