JuiceWorks 3D takes advantage of state initiative


When Juice Works 3D founder Andrei Dacko was preparing to move into his new space in Harrisonburg’s Manufactory Collective, he was understandably excited about a pivotal moment in the history of his business but felt some trepidation about how he, as a sole entrepreneur, could achieve all the things he envisioned for his business.

By chance or serendipity, he ran into his old friend Mary Sullivan, and as they caught up, she shared with him her new role as a regional project coordinator with the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership. As Dacko learned about the V-TOP initiative to connect employers of all sizes with internship opportunities for students and recent graduates, he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.

After some additional conversations and application to participate, Dacko and Juice Works 3D, an innovation academy that teaches people how to innovate using technologies such as 3D printing, became the first business in the Shenandoah Valley region to take advantage of the V-TOP initiative.

But Andrei didn’t stop with just one intern — he now has four, the maximum available through V-TOP. With varied backgrounds and experiences, the interns focus on a wide range of projects such as operations, program development and teaching after-school and summer camps. The most recent intern to join the team, Tyler Humphries, is a former marine who is finishing up his degree online and utilizing the skills he learned while serving in the military to help develop software.

Dacko said, “Having interns through V-TOP has allowed me to build a team to help with things like business operations and application development that I otherwise would not have been able to do. It’s been a great experience so far and if I could have more than four, I would!”

Dacko and JuiceWorks 3D were recently honored at a reception for Top Employers in the Valley for Interns heldJuiceWorks 3D Intern Daniel Manley with Founder Andrei Dacko at James Madison University. Daniel Manley, the first intern JuiceWorks 3D acquired through V-TOP, spoke at the program about his experience and the personal and professional growth he’s been able to achieve in a hands-on setting.

Sullivan, the regional program coordinator for the Valley Internship Experience Workgroup, said, “I am beyond thrilled that Andrei Dacko has been able to provide high quality internships for a diverse group of students from several different Shenandoah Valley colleges and universities including Blue Ridge Community College, Bridgewater College and James Madison University. The students are benefitting and learning while also providing JuiceWorks 3D with new perspectives, knowledge, and techniques to address business challenges and projects. Dacko has also been helping to spread the word about VTOP to other entrepreneurs and businesses who could benefit.”

While small businesses may be eligible for matching funds to off-set wages and other expenses, VTOP has internship resources for all sizes and types of businesses, such as an employer readiness toolkit, resource videos, webinars, professional development opportunities, and a free, online course “developing an internship program.

To learn more about the V-TOP initiative and how your business can take part, visit https://www.jmu.edu/economicdevelopment/view.

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Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2024

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