Thomas College's Business Institute to Offer Students Local Business Internships

WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) The Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College will be offering students local internships this fall.

The program aims to become the talent pipeline for Central Maine businesses.

"Our thought is if we can link our students much earlier with the business community, they actually may be more inclined to stay here upon graduation and in fact work for those businesses a couple years while they're still in school here," said Mike Duguay, Executive Director for the Institute.

Back in May, the Harold Alfond Foundation announced a $5.3M grant to create a business institute here at Thomas College, which will offer local internships to its students this fall to entice young Maine graduates to live and work in Central Maine.

"The goal of the internship program is to really help students identify what they like and don't like in their careers so they can make decisions while they're in college," said Josh Devou, Program Coordinator for the Institute.

As summer break winds down for students returning to campus in the fall, a new collaboration space will be offered to them as well as area businesses.

The institute hopes to serve the entire student body by exposing underclassmen to the internship program earlier through innovation courses and training.

"So when they get ready to pursue internships, not only will they have the career development education and focus, but they'll have spent some time shadowing and also really understanding what career they want to chose," said Duguay.

A few early interns have already been placed at local businesses in Waterville. The institute's staff says internships are more critical in today's job market than ever before.

"You need that practical experience as well as the in-class work," said Duguay.

This local job training gives area businesses the talented employee it needs to grow its operation, and possibly groom for full-time work, as well as presenting eager students the opportunity to connect with their community.

"Young people don't think there's opportunities here so we're trying to prove to them that there are opportunities here for them to use their talents and stay in the state, as I think they would like to," said Devou.

50 students are expected to take advantage of the program this school year. The institute hopes to eventually triple that number.