Internships discussed as part of Washington State Community College partnership

Photo by Erin O’Neill Hilles Hughes, director of Marietta College’s Career Center, left, leads a discussion featuring panelists from area businesses, as well as student interns.

MARIETTA — Students, local employers and educators gathered Monday morning at Washington State Community College’s Business and Technology Center to talk about a partnership among the three groups to prepare the next generation’s workforce.

An Employer Appreciation Breakfast was held in an effort to promote Ohio Means Internships & Co-ops, with about 50 people in attendance, including representatives from Washington State, Marietta College and the Washington County Career Center, as well as employers like the Memorial Health System, Peoples Bank, Pickering & Associates, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority.

John Magill, assistant deputy chancellor of economic advancement for the Ohio Department of Higher Education, spoke to the room about the role the three area educational institutions are playing within the state.

“On behalf of the governor and the chancellor, I came to acknowledge the great work these schools are doing and also the work being done by Marietta City Schools to help build that pipeline into the institutions and to really grow the working economy,” Magill said. “This is one of the most unique relationships in the state, three institutions reaching across the spectrum.”

Magill, who helps administer the Ohio Means Internships program, said he was excited by the level of activity in southeast Ohio and the turnout of area businesses at the morning’s event. He said he is also encouraged by the training and education given to the area’s young people.

“Southeast Ohio is right up there with everyone else,” he said. “The variety of businesses here today – manufacturing, service, the hospital – it’s indicative of the strong effort and commitment to a public/private partnership equal to anyone in the state.”

Two local employers, Joe Grimm with Grimm Scientific and Bill Wilkinson with Perry & Associates, joined two student interns for a panel discussion, facilitated by Hilles Hughes, Marietta College’s Career Center director. The discussion focused on the internship experience.

“I think a lot of students have no idea half of the companies that are out there,” said MC student Trinity Schlabach, who has been interning at Caron Products. “Being able to have a connection between the (schools) and the employer is very helpful.”

Chandler Lang, a Washington County Career Center student interning for Grimm Scientific, added that, as a student, you have to be willing to learn.

“A lot of kids won’t go intern for a company because they think they don’t know enough about it,” he said.

Employers can play a significant role in shaping students who come to intern for their companies, and preparing them for, not just a job, but a career.

“Students have reported getting a lot of satisfaction when they’re able to shadow, observe and meet people at various levels of the organization,” said Hughes.

Comments from the audience included those from local employer Mark Schwendeman, with the Schwendeman Insurance Agency and Shale Crescent initiative.

“We’ve had some really pleasant experiences with internships over the years and those folks have gone on to successful employment,” he said.

Brenda Kornmiller, dean of Business, Engineering, Industrial Technologies and Workforce at Washington State, said employers would benefit greatly from establishing a relationship with the schools.

“We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of internships and, as you can see, it benefits us, it benefits you, it benefits the students,” she said.

Ohio Means Internships & Co-ops program is an investment of state and private dollars to increase the number of internships and co-ops for employers and students in key industries to close the skills gap, increase student completion and give Ohio a competitive advantage in the global human capital talent marketplace. Anyone who is interested in participating can visit