Intern programs get funding

Thanks to recent funding from the Government of Canada, Wilfrid Laurier University students and alumni will have the opportunity to work with growing companies in the community within the next year. On March 8, WLU announced that it will receive a $216,842 investment which will fund the Laurier-Industry Internship Program.

The program’s focus is on students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). To be eligible, students must have graduated within the last five years from a Bachelor, Master’s, or PhD STEM program or currently in one.

The investment is provided through the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Graduate Enterprise Internship.

Abby Goodrum, vice president of research, explained, “FedDev has a lot of different programs and this was the one that we applied for because, well, we knew that there was some money available.”

That was nine months ago, when Research Services first met with co-op and career services and the faculty of science to talk about the possibility of the program.

“Now it’s just in the start-up phase,” Goodrum said. “Now we’ll be moving really quickly to get students to apply.”

The funding will allow up to 20 students to intern at a STEM-related company for a six month period.

While the government’s interest is focused on STEM programs, Goodrum acknowledged that Laurier doesn’t have the ‘E’ aspect of this: engineering.

She also explained that business students may have the opportunity to take advantage of the internship program.

“Primarily if they’re going to come from SBE they’re going to be more focused on things like economics or technology management,” she continued.

The university has until March 31, 2014 to use the money, which is also the date all internships must be finished.

Paul Jessop, dean of the faculty of science, said that he is hopeful they will “spend all the money.”

As for his expectations from the program he said, “I’d like to see twenty good, solid placements. A successful program isn’t just to occupy 20 people for six months, but out of those 20 it would be nice to follow and see how many turn those internships into permanent jobs.”

Links for both student and employer applications are already active online, however, there is no information on the selection process as of yet as the committee that will vet the applications is in the process of being formed.

“It’s a really great opportunity for companies too,” Goodrum said. “Because if you’re a start-up company you’d like to hire interns even to do research, yet you can’t really afford it. So this is a good deal for the companies and the students,.”

The company must provide at least 50 per cent of the intern’s salary, the rest being covered by the funding. Goodrum expressed her hope that the program will help local companies to grow.

She added, “I hope one of the things that this does for us is start making relationships with the industry, with the community, with the companies in this area that will go a long time.”

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