Kalamazoo Valley Community College

KVCC Foundation News Foundation Funds NEW Internship Program

December 5, 2008

KVCC Launching NEW Internship Initiative

Businesses and industries are invited to partner in a major internship initiative that Kalamazoo Valley Community College plans to launch in January.

  Funded for a three-year period by the KVCC Foundation, the $100,000 project seeks to place at least 55 students per academic year with enterprises interested in a grow-your-own-workforce alliance.

  The bulk of the grant funds will be used to pay up to  50 percent of the wages for KVCC students accepted for internships through December of 2011, with the companies they work for providing the balance.

  “The number of students who take part could increase,” said Diane Vandenberg, assistant director of the KVCC Student Success Center, “if a company agrees to increase the ratio to 75-25, or to pay the entire amount.”

  While the initiative is targeting enterprises involved in bio-medical services, alternative fuels, and the digital arts, companies involved in other sectors of the regional economy are also invited to take part.

  She said salary terms will be established on a case-by-case basis and agreed upon prior to the commencement of the internship. The pay can range from the minimum wage of $7.40 to $12 per hour.

  Called the “Community Partners Internship Program,” its parameters were forged by Vandenberg, Lois Brinson-Ropes and Karen Phelps.  The latter two oversee the center’s Student Employment Services activities.

  “We see this as the college’s wish to join forces with Southwest Michigan employers to produce and retain a highly talented and trained workforce,” Vandenberg said.

  For many enterprises -- and not just those in emerging businesses -- the No. 1 factor for achieving success is finding the right people to fit the right jobs.  Internships are tried-and-true ways to “grow your own” and identify prospects with high potential. 

  It’s the classic win-win equation:  great experience for those who are selected as interns and a no-strings-attached arrangement on the part of the employer because internships are basically akin to temporary jobs. 

The employer gets essentially a low-cost look at a potential permanent employee who could either be somebody who would not be a good fit or somebody who has “the right stuff” to be a future leader. 

In order to find that out, interns -- while supervised and operating within a structured work environment • can be given enough autonomy and enough leeway to determine their own direction.  That allows the employer to evaluate the person’s judgment, how he or she works with other people, and work habits.  Few one-on-one interviews provide those types of measurements.

  “This will give students a strong foundation of work experience,” Vandenberg said, “while providing an opportunity to cultivate professional networks that could jumpstart their careers with

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