InternNE funding is still available for companies wanting to hire interns and participate in the program, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).
“The first-year response has been encouraging, and we look forward to helping additional businesses find the interns needed to meet their skill demands,” said Catherine D. Lang, DED Director. “This program offers a good balance of assisting employers to find future employees, while offering students the skills needed to enter the workforce.”
During the first year 242 companies statewide filed applications to participate. Of those, 188 approved companies have worked or are currently working with active interns. Broken down by geographic location, 113 companies can be found in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties; the remaining 75 are located in more rural parts of the state.
A total 548 internships were approved statewide (184 in rural Nebraska), of which 266 have been filled (82 in rural Nebraska). Interns are earning an average $11.94 an hour in larger metropolitan areas and $10.91 an hour in rural Nebraska.
The variety of internships is extensive, from accounting and finance to software development and engineering. A closer look reveals that 20 percent of all filled positions are as software developers, programmers or information technology; 20 percent in marketing, sales and design; 16 percent in accounting and finance; and 14 percent in engineering or related fields. Others are identified in fields including quality assurance, research, human resources, law, and construction, specifically welding.
“The intern program has provided an affordable means for our company to start a talent pipeline into our sales division,” said Vice President, Human Resources Jan Zoucha, Assurity Life Insurance Company. “We wanted to grow our own regional sales managers through a trainee program, and InternNE is a great way for us to feed individuals into our program.”
“At CSS, interns are treated no differently than full time employees. They are expected to earn their keep and help the company remain profitable,” said Perry Howell, Owner, Partner and Director of Engineering at Communication Systems Solutions, LLC in Lincoln, Neb. “They are blessed with this expectation in that they learn what it takes to succeed in a high tech industry, while displaying a Nebraska work ethic.”
Daniel Smolczyk, intern at Communication Systems Solutions, LLC, said, “This internship has been an opportunity to put the skills that I’ve learned in school to work. It has been awesome to see the work that I’m able to do translate itself into profit with the guidance of my supervisors and mentors.”
The program, believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, provides a 40 percent match, up to $3,500 per internship to eligible businesses hiring eligible student interns. Businesses located in distressed areas may receive a 60 percent match up to $5,000. Businesses can apply for funding covering up to ten interns a year, with a maximum five interns per company location per year.
While the program has authorized up to $2.4 million to cover all approved internships, many businesses are still recruiting interns to fill their positions. Consequently the program has committed roughly $1.2 million so far.
InternNE is one “tool” passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2011 as part of the Talent & Innovation Initiative, developed to enhance momentum in Nebraska’s fastest-growing industries and others positioned to integrate new technologies.