Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Board of Regents grant extends internship program, offers career preparation for Chillicothe Campus students

Internships provide a bridge between the classroom and the workplace.

The Chillicothe Campus is part of a partnership that has been awarded a $240,000 Ohio Means Internships Grant from the Ohio Board of Regents to expand internships and co-op programs that offer students valuable work experience and career preparation. Other members include Southern State Community College as well as Buckeye Hills, Pickaway-Ross, Pike County and Scioto Valley Ohio technical centers. This partnership is part of a statewide workforce development effort to better serve students and businesses.

The new grant will span two years and builds upon the initial, one-year grant that reimburses employers up to 50 percent of each intern’s wages and pays the student’s tuition for academic credit associated with the internship.

“These grant funds are very valuable in allowing area businesses to offer important experiential learning without financial hardship to the employers or the students,” said OU-C Coordinator of Student Support Martha Tanedo, who coordinates the campus’ internship program. “Among benefits are an increased interest in internships on the part of both students and businesses. Employers understand that the end result is better-prepared future employees as well as interns who bring energy and new ideas. Consequently, they are willing to invest in this endeavor.”

The internships play an important role in complementing classroom instruction and preparing students for success in their professional pursuits.

“Students are able to learn how to succeed in a professional setting and the nuances that can only be fully experienced in the actual workplace,” she said. “These experiences serve as a bridge between their academic and professional careers.”

With the first grant, which began in the summer of 2013, OU-C has been able to provide approximately 10 students with internship opportunities at area employers.

Additionally, campus faculty members were able to have a dialogue with area business leaders to help ensure the campus’ academic offerings are aligned with the needs of employers and to consider other programs that may be relevant. Participating businesses have included PPG, VA Medical Center, Ross County Visitors Bureau and Glatfelter.

The grants are designed to align Ohio’s higher education curriculum with skills that are in demand by Ohio’s businesses so that students are better positioned for jobs in the state after graduation.

Faculty members in programs that have involved students in the internship program appreciate its value.

“Securing excellent internship placements for office administration students earning an Associate in Applied Business degree in Office Technology (OTEC) is a must,” said Allison White, associate professor and OTEC program coordinator. “Students are looking for business support positions in manufacturing and service companies for networking and on-the-job experience. Certifications, licenses, commissions, practicums, and especially internships are vital to success for a graduate of a two-year degree program.  These are power boosters in this highly technical and extremely competitive workplace environment.”

“This grant program is helping the campus and the community to join forces,” White said. “Now there can be paid opportunities for students in business degree programs that did not traditionally have such a perk.  The university gives back to the community and vice versa.”

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