Mar 12, 2018

Michigan Program Helps Small Businesses Hire Interns

The Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) will provide $374,000 in 2018 to help small businesses hire summer interns. Six major public universities and nine affiliate universities in Michigan will receive funds to match up to $3,500 for local businesses to hire their students in STEM disciplines.

When you look at the rapid immigration from Michigan, it’s no wonder this state-funded program is aggressively connecting companies and universities. Recent data from McKinsey & Company ranks Michigan as one of the worst states for net migration.

In 2013, census figures showed Michigan experienced a net migration loss of 3.5% of people age 22 -34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. But after years of effort by state policymakers to retain and attract young college graduates, things could finally be looking up for Michigan. 2017 census data showed more residents moving in than leaving.

“It’s extremely positive,” said Kurt Metzger, Director Emeritus of Data Driven Detroit. “This shows Michigan is holding onto more of its residents and attracting others. We are seeing a turnaround. This is the best we’ve done in the last two decades.”

The MCRN’s Small Company Internship Award program started in 2011, coincidentally the same year Michigan’s population began growing again. And for the the past six years, the state’s population has continued steadily increasing.

“In 2017, more than $412,000 in MCRN and matching money from companies funded 134 internships at 117 companies throughout the state,” said Denise Graves, University Relations Director at MEDC. “And after completing their internships, 83 students retained their jobs, 27 of them on a full-time basis.”

There are some caveats of the program: only small businesses with less than 250 employees can hire these interns, and these opportunities must provide the student with experiences in the STEM fields that are both beneficial to the company and academically relevant to students. “The committee is not interested in companies that want students to do tedious tasks, like get coffee or make copies,” said Lisa Garcia, director of WMU’s Business Connection. “We are looking for companies that can provide a great experience for the students and who are actively looking to hire that student after the internship is completed.”

With the program’s past success, it’s no surprise the MCRN is expanding the initiative to provide more money to more schools. Michigan can continue to retain talent and grow their population as they connect college interns to meaningful internships with small businesses locally. The state’s population is still not back to peak numbers, but Michigan is on track to once again pass the 10 million mark in the near future.  

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About the author

Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a Social Media Manager for SendGrid, a leading digital communication platform. He's created and managed content for startups, growth-stage companies, and publicly-traded businesses. Jesse has spent almost a decade writing about small business and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped startup. When he's not dabbling in digital marketing, you'll find him ultrarunning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Jesse studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.

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