How the program reimburses companies for paying interns and helps students boost their careers
Any company looking for young workers knows that there are plenty of students out there who want an internship — but how can you find the right person at the right price? And any student who’s been on the hunt for work experience can tell you there are plenty of internships around Ohio, but how many give you real-world experience and reasonable pay? Fortunately for both employers and students, the Ohio Third Frontier’s Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship program is solving that problem by connecting great students with great internships.
The program pairs interns with companies for the best fit, and not only promises a great experience for both parties, but also reimburses two-thirds of interns’ wages up to $10,000, making the hire a lighter lift for organizations that need the help. Companies can be technology focused, or simply a company with a technological need. Intern backgrounds range anywhere from communications and data analysis to business operations and software development. And for those who use the program effectively, it can be a game-changer.
“You’d be a fool to not take advantage of it,” said Fontus Blue founder Chris Miller, whose startup went on to hire their intern for a full-time position. “Even separate from the money, it’s easy to apply, easy to get access to a quality pool of talent, and you get to work with someone with a broad, diverse skill set. Relative to supporting startups, I think it’s awesome for multiple reasons.”
Last year, the program helped Ohio State chemical engineering senior Alex Butler found an internship with central Ohio startup Form5 Prosthetics. His experience helping fit people with 3D-printed prosthetics solidified his desire to work in the health care space, providing an in-depth experience that many internships can’t offer.
“It was definitely trial by fire — I was hands-on from day one,” he said. “Two days in, I met my first recipient and got to have a conversation with them and learn what they needed. I think I learned a lot from that kind of experience. I was hands-on for things like learning the equipment and meeting with customers, and the creative nature of this job really means that you need to be willing to experiment and fail. So I think trial by fire was the perfect environment for this.”
The program has allowed companies and interns to connect even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the changing landscape of tech and startups over the last two years, the interns were able to work remotely or on a hybrid model when possible, opening up ways to learn that translate directly to the real world. As a third-year engineering student at Wright State University, Andrea Acevedo worried that she wouldn’t be able to find an internship to get the crucial experience she needed to launch her career. But the Diversity and Inclusion Technology Internship opened new doors for her at Metallurgical Solutions Inc., a commercial testing lab performing metal testing and industrial forensics, even as the pandemic began in 2020.
“I wasn’t sure if many companies would be taking on interns, and I thought even if they hired an intern, they’d decide, ‘Sorry, we can’t have you anymore,’” she said. “Even if I started somewhere, I wasn’t sure how permanent it would be. But then Sheryl Kent from Student Success Services reached out and told me about the Ohio Third Frontier’s Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship program. I was worried that it wouldn’t be helpful to me in the future, and it’s been the exact opposite.”
Interested in working with the next generation of Ohio innovators? Companies can apply for the program through Feb. 18, while students can apply starting Feb. 7. Any company with a technological need is welcome to apply and can hire up to three interns at a time through the program.
“I’d tell another potential intern to get in early to maximize their opportunities,” Butler said. “If you want to work in Ohio and you want to be at a company that wants to help Ohio, this is a great way to get involved.”