Internships and co-ops grant aids students, businesses

At least 96 new internship and co-op experiences in key JobsOhio industries will be created for BGSU students thanks to the combined investment of close to $1.9 million from the Ohio Board of Regents and several businesses with operations or interests in Ohio.

BGSU was awarded $650,000 for the second Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops (OMIC II) grant, which will focus on creating infrastructure to increase internships and co-ops in the JobsOhio key industries over two years.

With the grant, BGSU will subsidize 50 percent of intern wages for employer partners in the first year of the grant. The subsidy will decrease to 25 percent the second year to prepare employers to fully fund the experiences.

"It's a great incentive for employers to take advantage of," said Jeffery Jackson, assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of the Career Center. "We've already had a number of companies commit to participate."

Another incentive, he added, is that the program will enable BGSU to teach companies that may not have had interns before how to structure their internships and design a program that is mutually beneficial.

Data show that about 50 percent of interns transition into full-time employment with their companies, Jackson said. "They and the company have already verified whether it's a good fit, and the intern is familiar with the culture and work processes."

Another area of focus for the OMIC II grant is the creation of a group internship program. The goal of this program is to connect students and employers and have students work in collaborative, multi-disciplinary groups to solve actual company problems.

Additionally, BGSU will use funds from the grant to create an economic development internship model to help select potential internship opportunities in northwest Ohio in the JobsOhio target industries. The University's Center for Regional Development (CRD) previously created an award-winning toolkit aimed at helping businesses identify their most advantageous location. Adapting those tools, the CRD will use its spatial analysis models to help select potential internship opportunities in northwest Ohio, explained director Dr. Michael Carroll. "The models will allow the selection of firms that are in alignment with the Jobs Ohio target industries."

Using a variety of databases, "CRD will identify the growing industries in our region that could provide internship opportunities," Carroll said. "We can also identify opportunities within declining regions. Placing interns in these areas could provide economic resources that are currently missing in these areas."

Using the CRD's findings, BGSU will be able to connect interns with industries that may not normally be associated with their academic degree program, significantly broadening the impact of the grant, said Dr. Jessica Turos, associate director of the Career Center, who has spearheaded both the first and second OMIC grants.

"As long as the companies themselves align with the targeted areas, students from a variety of disciplines can qualify for internships," she said.

CRD will conduct an economic impact analysis of the internships that were placed by BGSU, which will allow BGSU to calculate a return on investment of the program.

Businesses in JobsOhio key industry sectors include advanced manufacturing, aerospace/aviation, agribusiness/food processing, automotive, biohealth, energy, financial services, information services/software, polymers/chemicals, and business functions such as logistics, consulting, and research and development.

Grant money will also support a feasibility study of the Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology: Manufacturing at BGSU Firelands. The goal of this study is to better understand how a college and community-based manufacturing program, with an integral internship component, could best be realized in the region.

"We know that there are quite a few employers in the Firelands region who need graduates with these skills," said Turos. "Now we can determine whether students are interested in enrolling in this degree program."

Finally, the grant will support the creation and implementation of advocacy boards composed of successful alumni and employer partners. These boards will share their expertise and advise colleges on curricula, alumni affairs, student mentorship, internships and co-ops, job placement, and faculty engagement with related industries. The proposal was strongly endorsed by such departments as communication and computer science and by BGSU Firelands.

OMIC II employer partners include: Centric Consulting LLC.; Cowlin Insurance Agency; Creative Financial Partners; Eaton Corporation; Freudenberg-NOK; GKN Driveline Bowling Green, Inc.; Grathwol Automation LLC.; Lake Erie Electric of Toledo Inc.; Macy's Systems and Technology; Northwestern Mutual; Pacer International Inc.; Peak Electric Inc.; RMF Nooter Inc.; Rudolph Libbe; Service Spring Corp; Shoot-A-Way; SSOE; TH Plastics Inc.; TruePoint Laser Scanning LLC.; Whirlpool Clyde Operations, and Whirlpool Marion Operations.