Internships get funding

September 21, 2009
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One way to secure the young and educated in Michigan is to connect them with internships. In April, the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, in conjunction with the Detroit Regional Chamber, launched Intern In Michigan, a statewide program that connects students with Michigan-based business through one Web site.

The program was recently awarded a $1.2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide funding through 2012. The money will be used to expand the program and strengthen the coordination between WMSA and the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“We’re extremely excited to be a part of the grant,” said Cindy Brown, WMSA project manager. “We have been a partner with the Detroit Chamber for over a year now and we’re really excited to have been a part of the planning and development of the statewide Intern In Michigan program.

“This assists us in continuing our opportunities to reach employers and educate employers on the importance of internship programs for their business as well as for the students in the community.”

The recent grant will assist the program with its second phase, which consists of gradual updates to the Web site to better connect students and companies. Phase two will continue throughout the next year or year and a half. The grant also will allow the program to become truly statewide.

“We need to have partners around the state. We are going to be very close to announcing some really key partnerships in the Kalamazoo, Traverse City and mid-Michigan areas in the next couple of weeks,” said Brown. “Our director of the Intern In Michigan program from the Detroit Regional Chamber went up and visited three schools in the Upper Peninsula to get them familiar with the program to make it a statewide initiative.”

Intern In Michigan was originally funded with $2.4 million through the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development program and the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.

Part of the educational component of the program is an Employers Internship Toolkit. The toolkit includes information on the importance of internships and how to develop a quality program, attract international students and more.

More than 4,400 students and 450 employers have registered on the Web site, www.interninmichigan.com, and 230 internships have been listed or filled through the site.

“This year is the outreach, to get out to the community and businesses and educate them on the importance of internships, hold training sessions, get the word out to the students,” said Brown. “(The grant) allows us to be able to do that.”

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